Wednesday, March 07, 2012

 

Things To Remember About Labour #5

The Labour Government promised Lords reform. They delivered a House of Cronies stuffed with Labour appointments, and ignored House of Commons votes to set up a fully elected Upper Chamber.

Labour got rid of most of the peers who held seats by hereditary inheritance (by an amazing coincidence, overwhelmingly Tory) but only replaced them with swathes of new Life Peers holding seats by time-serving political inheritance (by an amazing coincidence, overwhelmingly Labour).

So they replaced no democracy with no democracy, and rewards for favours to kings centuries ago with rewards for favours to Tony Blair and Gordon Brown in office.

Then, five years ago today, the House of Commons voted for a wholly elected Upper Chamber (as well as backing, by a smaller majority, an 80% elected / 20% appointed Upper Chamber). The Labour Government opposed both of these votes before they took place, but I was foolish enough at the time to think that, the votes having taken place, the Labour Government would act on them. Of course, they didn’t. They flat-out refused the democratic will of the Commons to extend the democratic will of the people.

Who can explain why this anti-democratic decision was made? Except that the Labour Party made so much money by selling peerages that it would have left them many millions short had people been forced to stand for election rather than just pony up, no questions asked.

M’learned friend tells me that the Labour Party was not officially selling peerages, as the police investigation presided over by now-Lord Blair (no relation), who was then by an amazing coincidence given a peerage by the Labour Government (quite a strong relation), didn’t prove that they did. It’s merely that, as I noted yesterday, by another amazing coincidence, every single person giving Labour a million pounds got a peerage or knighthood in return.

Labour spokespeople, with no breath of shame for their lies and hypocrisy, attacked the Coalition Government for ‘creating the largest number of peers at once that the Lords have ever seen’ in the first new set of appointments after the General Election. Before taking that seriously, you should remember two facts. That the previous Labour Government, over their time in office, loaded up the Lords with by far the largest number of peers in history in order to stuff a Labour lead into the Upper Chamber… And that the majority of that ‘largest number of peers at once’ created shortly after the last election were outgoing Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s resignation honours, using his last power of patronage to fill up the unelected House with even more Labour cronies after the Labour Party had been thrown out of the elected House by the voters.

Democracy Is For Government, Not Just For Election-Time

A hundred and one years ago, the Liberal Government passed the Parliament Act, beginning the process of subjecting the Lords to democracy. Now that we’re back in government after a small interregnum, the Liberal Democrats are getting back on with it. Even though Labour are – surprise – still looking for ways to sabotage the process, along with some former Liberal leaders who’ve gone native now they have cushy jobs for life (Lord Steel, be ashamed), though by no means all.

The media coverage of Lords reform keeps stating that only the Liberal Democrats are interested in an elected Upper Chamber – as if no-one else could object to retired politicians, bribing businesspeople and never-elected bishops being able to boss all the rest of us about with no chance of us poor plebs ever getting rid of them. Of course this just assumes, probably rightly, that the Liberal Democrats mean what they say when they put something in their manifesto, and that the other two just pretend to be interested in democracy at election times but are really lying through their teeth.

So here’s something for both the Labour and Conservative Parties (and too-cosy Lib Dem peers) to remember. This is what the three main parties promised to get elected:
“Replace the House of Lords with a fully-elected second chamber with considerably fewer members than the current House.”
Liberal Democrat General Election Manifesto 2010
“We will work to build a consensus for a mainly-elected second chamber to replace the current House of Lords, recognising that an efficient and effective second chamber should play an important role in our democracy and requires both legitimacy and public confidence.”
Conservative General Election Manifesto 2010
“We will ensure that the hereditary principle is removed from the House of Lords. Further democratic reform to create a fully elected Second Chamber will then be achieved in stages. At the end of the next Parliament one third of the House of Lords will be elected; a further one third of members will be elected at the general election after that. Until the final stage, the representation of all groups should be maintained in equal proportions to now.”
Labour General Election Manifesto 2010 – which, you may have noticed, was the only one that still wanted to rig the Upper House so that, whatever the voters decided, it would still have an entrenched Labour plurality for fifteen years!
“We will establish a committee to bring forward proposals for a wholly or mainly elected upper chamber on the basis of proportional representation… In the interim, Lords appointments will be made with the objective of creating a second chamber that is reflective of the share of the vote secured by the political parties in the last general election.”
Coalition Agreement between the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats, May 2010

So to say that this is only a Liberal Democrat thing not only ignores how the whole House of Commons voted five years ago, but assumes that only Lib Dems tell the truth and that the other parties are liars.

Any Labour and Conservative politicians reading, why not prove that wrong?

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