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House of Lords vote. Oh the Irony. Oh where to start.

October 26, 2015

Osborne

Let’s ignore for a moment the vulgar issue of life and death.  Let’s put aside the practical fact that the House of Lords vote last night has, at least temporarily, saved lives.  And so a bunch of poor and desperate people, people George Osborne was desperate to kill, will now get to live a little longer.  Every year, poverty kills.  Thousands find that they can’t pay their bills, feed themselves and heat their homes over the winter.  Poverty drives people to suicide.  The tax credit cuts demanded by Osborne would have accelerated these fatalities.

Osborne of course feels he has a licence to kill.  As Chancellor of the Exchequer in a government that commands a small majority in the House of Commons, he feels he has a sacred and inalienable mandate to drive poor people over the edge – an unassailable right to punish the weakest and most desperate members of society.  Punish them with death.

So what right does the silly old House of Lords have to stick a spanner in the works?

The House of Lords is now Europe’s largest legislative assembly.  Successive twenty-first century governments have packed it with their pals.  It has grown and grown because it is a creature of patronage and patronage oils the wheels of deal making.  Patronage gets things done.

Is it right that such an unelected chamber can over-rule an elected chamber?  No.

Is the right solution to stuff that chamber with a bunch of extra members so as to more accurately reflect the government of the day?  No.

Should it be up to unelected appointees to challenge the decisions of elected politicians?  No.

Does a government elected on a very unrepresentative poll – with only 36% of the vote and 24% of the eligible electorate backing it have any right to claim a sovereign democratic mandate?  No.

When the political establishment (Blair and Brown as well as Cameron) creates this saggy beast of political patronage, feeds it, and nurtures it – do they have any right to complain when it turns on them?  No.

Should Britain allow an unelected chamber to regularly thwart the will of an elected chamber?  No.

If Britain wants serious constitutional reform, is it acceptable for a government elected via First Past the Post with a bare Commons majority, to enact any legislation it likes without any check or hindrance?  No.

The Tories can do one of three things.  They can swallow this defeat and live with the reality that they aren’t all powerful.  Or they can try to reform the House of Lords and open the Pandora’s box of wider constitutional reform – reform that can only threaten them in the longer term.  Or they can stuff the Lords with a bunch of “sympathetic” peers and inflate the stupidity for another day.

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One Comment
  1. Well put. I have mulled over this `democratic and constitutional` conundrum. It is very depressing isn’t it? I will just stick my head in the sand I suppose.

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