House of Lords reform should not be an issue we should be debating. Reforming one entire third of the executive to be composed of democratically elected representatives is not a progressive idea.
To widen the perspective, let’s examine the military intervention Britain has become involved in in the last decade. Much of the justification for Britain and NATO involvement in a no-fly zone in Libya was to protect people’s rights and ensure the power of democracy. The invasion of Iraq was founded on the basis of bringing democracy to the people. And don’t forget Afghanistan, the establishment of a democratic state in the Middle East.
Here we have a coalition government proposing that we reform an entire third of the executive to introduce a larger democratic government. While other countries are bravely contemplating civil war in order to gain democratic representation, the press in this country considers that reform of the House of Lords is not of public interest. Or indeed in the public interest.
Will we also be forced to set ourselves on fire to demand democracy?
The arguments presented against reforming this chamber of government are spurious at best. Rather like the arguments presented against AV, they are at best arbitrarily dogmatic and at worst, rhetoric from the two major parties.
This shouldn’t even be a consideration. Money should not be a barrier to democracy. But if you need an argument against spending money on reforming a major political institution for the better, let’s not forget the financial burden of corruption that the House of Lords currently represents.
During the expenses scandal of 2009, five peers were charged with fraud for misuse and appropriation of expenses. The cost, not only appointing them, but also of investigating, charging and subsequent incarceration can be counted as a hefty sum. On top of this, one peer charged claimed legal aid and, as there is no current solution in law to recall a member of the Houses of Parliament or House of Lords from office, during investigation and prosecution all peers are in fact still on salaried wage.
Then of course, you have to take into account the vast amount of money that people appointed to the House of Lords first paid political parties. The Conservatives may have detracted from their Number 10 Dining
Street scandal with some blather about baked goods, it should be noted
that many of whom dine with the Prime Minister have made
significant donations and have been granted peerages.
Maintaining the Status Quo
That age-old argument ” if it’s not broken, why fix it”.
But the very point is that it is broken. The current system is the House of Lords represents an archaic institution that once advised the king and was comprised of wealthy landowners. If we’ve moved on from such an antiquated system as feudalist society, why should the last remnants of a powerful nobility still exist, let alone without accountability?
Rather than representing a body of experts, its history seeks to define it, the House of Lords epitomise of all what is wrong with a capitalist society; people who pay to be there. If you have any doubts, examine Lord Alan Sugar.
Again, it is not a progressive idea to reform the House of Lords. It is not progressive to suggest that democratic representation is essential to society. It should be commonplace that such a system exists in an advanced Western country.
This should not even be in argument between major political parties. It shouldn’t matter whether you’re red, blue or yellow as to whether or not you support this idea. Ultimately, to not support this idea on a political bandwagon demonstrates further everything that is wrong with the democracy in the UK. It is in the interest of the people to have a fully elected democratic representatives governing their country. Every political party should support this.
And indeed, every political party did call for reform of the House of Lords in their manifestoes in 2010. Tony Blair made significant inroads on reforming the House of Lords. However, his work is unfinished. It is necessary for the left to push forward in changing things now, when the opportunity arises. Not waiting until a member of the public is forced to emoiliate themselves in Trafalgar Square.
This post was originally published on Huffington Post