The House of Lords is a CANCER of PRIVILEGE at the heart of our Establishment. It needs to go.
How can we complain about UNACCOUNTABLE bankers manipulating interest rates for their own advantage or UNACCOUNTABLE media barons (haha very ironic) hacking the phones of innocent victims for a story to sell when we allow the very laws that govern us (and bankers! and newspapers!) to be made by an UNACCOUNTABLE bunch of self-interested, unrepresentative, largely-geriatric, probably-deluded, has-beens hand-picked by the Prime Monster and the Leader of the Opportunists?
Not the PEOPLE of Great Britain, that's for sure.
There are the seventy-some Conservatories who SHOULD be RESIGNING their seats and facing by-election for LYING to their constituents in their 2010 manifesto. But there's no punishment for twisting words to mean anything you want them to mean (and if Mr Bunter Soames isn't a candidate for Humpty Dumpty then I'll eat a Conservatory manifesto). But there's no punishment for these people – quite the reverse, they are rewarded with publicity to make their safe seats safer (and the dinners to make their fat seats fatter) and, in the fullness of time, a safe seat for life in, yes, the Lords on their retirement (at least, so long as they can talk out the bill and ensure there's a plush taxpayer-funded retirement home still there for them).
There is the Labour Party, who OUGHT to be in danger of proving themselves UTTERLY UNFIT TO GOVERN, because they'd rather ARSE ABOUT in the House of Commons than act PROGRESSIVELY, in accordance with what they CLAIM to believe and in the interest of the COUNTRY. But there's no punishment for treating politics as a BIG OLD GAME and just adding to the CONTEMPT in which real people hold the whole process of government.
And that SERVES the Establishment too, encouraging people to DISENFRANCHISE THEMSELVES when they don't care about politics. People care about OUTCOMES – the Health Service, welfare, pensions, schools, whether the trains run on time. Or at all. But when politicians play stupid games – and our media have utterly failed us here by encouraging them to do this – it disconnects those outcomes from the process that is supposed to DELIVER. The mega-rich media owners prosper because they get good value entertainment but people suffer but they get entertainment instead of government.
(More - and BETTER - on "processes v outcomes" from Mr Andrew. Do read!)
Then there're the Lords themselves. Let's take Betty Boothroyd, since she's been mouthing off this week. She SHAMES herself and her record. She was Speaker of the House of Commons from 1992 to 2000 and therefore was Speaker during the debates over the Maastricht Treaty creating the European Union and the Scotland Act creating the devolved Scottish Parliament, either or both of which could be said to be a more substantial a constitutional change as the Lords Reform Bill. Did she denounce those changes as an "outrage"? Did she rebel against the use of programme motions then? No, she calmly wafted them through. She passed the Social Chapter of the Maastricht Treaty on her own casting vote (unnecessarily as it turned out, but no qualms about needing a referendum there). No, it's only now – by an EXTRAORDINARY COINCIDENCE just when her OWN cushy seat is up for a touch of accountability – that she's up in arms.
This is what the House of Lords Club DOES – it turns decent people into HYPOCRITES and veneers our WORST politicians with ermine-edged nobility. As though that makes them RESPECTABLE. It makes them part of the ESTABLISHMENT, defenders of the STATUS QUO, and rewards them with a warm place to snooze and a decent London restaurant at country prices.
These people are given power and money – YOUR power and YOUR money – without asking your permission. Their hands are DIRTY. Yes, even the best of them. (Shirley, Ros, Paddy the many others who, I know, all work very hard and do good, but it's all built on SAND, and worse, it's built on LIES.)
So when they talk about "wisdom" and "tradition" ("tradition" here meaning "we've got away with it for so long, how dare you question us now") ask them "What gives you the RIGHT to pass laws over me?" And remember that their position is UTTERLY UNJUSTIFIABLE.
Because they have NO RIGHT to take your money or your power without your say so.
And for as long as we build our government on a system of doing favours for rewards, that hands out position without accountability, that lets people take POWER OVER YOU without legitimacy, then we will continue to live in a society that has darkness and corruption at its heart and we can expect to reap more Barclays and more Murdochs because they're just doing what the Establishment do.
Only smaller and cruder and THEY got found out.
Those TOP TEN anti-reform arguments in full:
1. "There's not been enough time for debate!"
Translation: there's just been nine months of open consultation that they couldn't be bothered to participate in and a cross-party committee on top of over a hundred years of discussion, but one more really good kick and they'll see it into the really long grass...
2. "They might challenge the legitimacy of the House of Commons"
Translation: if you make them more democratic it shows up the deficiencies in OUR legitimacy.
(aka: I can't bear to be challenged!)
What exactly is WRONG with the House of Lords CHALLENGING the House of Commons? Aren't they kind of SUPPOSED to do that? The legislation specifically states that the Commons will always get its way in the end.
3. "They won't be able to perform their role as a revising chamber"
Translation: I'm not singing from the same hymn sheet as "2".
4."I'm in favour of a proper democracy where the Lords is 100% elected!"
(also known as the "no one wanted THIS" argument.)
The Liberal Democrats want a 100% elected second chamber too but we also know that DEMOCRACY means COMPROMISE and the proposals in the bill aim to take into account the best ideas (and the red lines) of all parties to the consultation. This is supposed to be SYNTHESIS though there's an element of LOWEST COMMON DENOMINATOR too. If you're so SPECIAL and PRECIOUS that you won't accept ANYTHING except your own personally hand-crafted form of government then... you're probably going to have to buy your own island.
5. "We don't want to pay for more politicians!"
Good, because under these proposals you'd pay for FEWER politicians. About FOUR HUNDRED fewer. AND you'd get to elect them. A bit.
6. "It'll be a Parliament of Placemen!"
Well I'M pretty FURIOUS about losing STV for the Lords, but seriously, how are lists of names chosen by the Parties DIFFERENT from the present system of, er, a list of names chosen by the Parties? Plus appointed cross-benchers and totally unelected Bishops. Just like now!
At least the voters will get to choose the parties!
7. "You'll lose the wisdom of expert contributions"
Name five members of the House of Lords who have contributed EXPERT TESTIMONY to more than a couple of bills. Name TWO! Robert Winston may be great but, seriously, just how many Human Embryology bills do you NEED?
And what makes him an "expert" when it comes to the European Fisheries Act? Or the High Speed Rail Bill? Or the Business Regulations? Or tax loopholes? Or armed forces procurement? Or... continues ad infinitum.
8. "The quality of debate is so much better in the Lords than in the Commons"
So fluffy what? The House of Commons being broken is NO REASON not to fix the House of Lords. Oh, I was going to get the cooker fixed but the telly's on the blink so I guess I'll just keep eating cold cat-monster food from tins(!)
You don't get the jeers and juvenile behaviour in the Lords, it is true. But that's not because they're UNELECTED. It's because they're all ASLEEP! They manage to behave perfectly reasonably in the Scottish Parliament. Or the European Parliament. Or the American Senate. Mostly. And they're all ELECTED bodies.
The atmosphere in the House of Commons is like that because we ALLOW them to be like that. (It doesn't help that the ROOM is physically designed to be UNCOMFORTABLE and TOO SMALL and so PROVOKE conflict.)
10. "That's enough objections, Ed."
(No, not THAT Ed, obviously; Mr Milipede hasn't got enough objections but HE's going to vote against ANYWAY. Git.)