Tuesday, 17 October 2017

The 15 year peerage proposal is an absolute farce

Instead of putting forward proposals to democratise the bloated unelected House of Lords, a Westminster political committee is proposing a "fix" that would make the anti-democratic nature of the House of Lords even worse than it is already.

The way it works now is that (aside from 26 unelected bishops and 92 mainly Tory hereditary peers) all of the members of the House of Lords have been undemocratically appointed by the Prime Minister of the day.

What the House of Lords Committee is suggesting is that instead of the Prime Minister of the day having the power to appoint peers for life, they should appoint them to time-limited peerages of no longer than 15 years.

Several Prime Ministers over the years have abused their positions by stuffing the House of Lords with their own cronies and yes men. But between 2010 and 2016 David Cameron took Lords-stuffing to a new extreme, adding more new unelected peers per year than any other Prime Minister in history, including life-long peerages for over a dozen mega-rich Tory donors who had pumped £millions into Tory party coffers before their ennoblements.

Thanks to David Cameron's stuffing of the Lords it's now swelled to over 800 members, making it the second largest legislative assembly in the world (behind the Chinese parliament).

Instead of putting forward proposals to reduce the size of the House of Lords, and democratise it in an innovative way that preserves the undoubted expertise of many of the members, the Westminster establishment club are pushing a "fix" that would make the anti-democratic nature of the House of Lords even worse.

Just imagine if peerages had been limited to 15 years for the last few decades. Imagine what the composition of the House of Lords would have ended up looking like after the 18 year Tory rule between 1979-1997. Every single sitting peer would have been hand-picked by either Margaret Thatcher or John Major! It would have ended up as nothing more than a glorified, and ridiculously over-paid rubber-stamping club.

Imagine the composition of the House of Lords after the 13 year New Labour rule from 1997-2010. After an initial period of the Tory dominated Lords cynically blocking absolutely everything the Labour government tried to achieve, after 10 years and beyond the majority of the Tory peerages from the previous regime would have expired, leaving a House of Lords almost exclusively handpicked by either Tony Blair or Gordon Brown. Another glorified rubber-stamping club.

Now consider the current political situation had the 15 year rule been in force. After seven and a half years of Tory rule the balance of the House of Lords would be rapidly swinging back to the Tories, just at a time when the country most needs the upper chamber to hold the shambolic, divided and increasingly authoritarian minority Tory government to account.

The introduction of a 15 year limitation on peerages that continue to be unelected is exactly the kind of ill-conceived and profoundly anti-democratic "fix" you'd expect from a Westminster establishment club who are absolutely desperate to avoid and kind of genuine democratisation or modernisation of the political system they've reaped the personal benefits of for decades.

The Westminster elitists still want the House of Lords to be stuffed full of hand-picked political yes men like themselves, but they now want them appointed with an automatic expiry date so that they can be weeded out before they get too old to soften their party political allegiances, to be replaced regularly with new crops of up-to-date yes men who are fully on message about the current government's agenda.

The new 15 year rule will obviously only be applied to newly appointed members of the House of Lords, because if it's applied retroactively, 10 of the 13 unelected peers to have cobbled together this proposal would have to resign immediately having already served way beyond 15 years, and two others who were appointed in 2004 would have to retire within two years, leaving just one of them in the job!

Yes, these establishment insiders, most of whom have sat in the unelected House of Lords for over two decades (Lord Strathclyde has been there since 1985!) are proposing a new set of rules to prevent younger generations from milking the system in the way they have themselves, but they have no intention of resigning their own positions to comply with the rules they're planning to force onto others.

The hypocrisy of these unelected establishment insiders is astounding, but unsurprising. They want to keep their own unelected privileges, but restrict the unelected privileges of future generations in order to keep them as subservient to the Westminster elitist club as possible, whilst vehemently opposing the concepts of democratisation and modernisation of the anti-democratic system that has rewarded them with decades of unelected power and influence.

The anti-democratic House of Lords is bad enough as it is, but the idea of automatically weeding future unelected peers out in order to turn the upper house into a glorified rubber-stamping club is somehow even worse than just leaving it in the mess it's in!

The bloated and anti-democratic state of the unelected House of Lords is actually an ideal opportunity to develop a completely new innovative kind of elected upper legislative chamber that is fit for the 21st Century. However, leaving the job of reform to the unelected Lords themselves is absolutely futile because, as is always the case, the Westminster establishment club would obviously prefer to just use the current mess to rig the system even more to their own advantage, rather than proposing any kind of genuinely progressive or democratic reform to their beloved system.

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