House of Lords Club to be renamed: Nelson Mandela House!
In The Avengers, "The House that Jack Built"is a house designed by a DIABOLICAL MASTERMIND to trap Mrs Peel and drive her INSANE!
The Labour have come up with a VERY SIMILAR idea!
The 10th of August this year will, of course, see the NINETY-SIXTH anniversary of the first PARLIAMENT ACT and, give or take an interruption for two WORLD WARS a COLD WAR and the STAR WARS trilogy, people have been spending a awful lot of time since not bothering to finish what the Liberals started.
When Lord Blairimort and the Labour came to power, reform of the House of Lords Club was one of their seventy-two topmost top priorities. Since in reality he genuinely did not give two hoots, Lord B settled for booting out all but 92 of their hereditary lordships who had been dozing there since 1705, flogged off a whole lot more peerages on the sly and left it to muddle through with a severe warning that it better not mess with his desire to make a new thing illegal every single day.
(Obviously, they DID mess with him, and thank goodness, or we would be even more stuffed than we are. And I speak as a stuffed toy!)
So, every couple of years since then, someone has had another go at restarting the process. A Royal Commission under Lord Wakeham in 1999, a joint committee set up in 2001, the range of votes in 2003: seven choices, none selected, a cross-party group led by Sainted Robin Cook and rather-more-sinning Fatty Clarke in 2005.
Now, one of Lord Blairimort's less favoured cronies, Mr Jack Man O'Straw, has tried his hand.
Mr Man O'Straw ought to be good at houses, since he was once Home Secretary.
Incidentally, has anyone noticed that Lord Blairimort's first three Home Secretaries were The Scarecrow (brain of straw); the Tin Man (no heart) and the Cowardly Lion (speaks for itself)? I suppose that makes poor Mr Dr Reid the Wizard of Odd – big bald head, hides behind the curtain, not actually as magical as his propaganda puts about. Watch out for the scene where Lord Blairimort puts him in a hot air balloon to drift away forever!
Anyway, I WAS going to try and explain all Mr Man O'Straw's ideas to you, but the Elect the Lords people have prepared this very helpful Pie Diagram that does it all much better instead:
Being a man of very little modesty, Mr Man O'Straw has hailed his own suggestions as the "best opportunity to reform the Lords for many decades". Which rather proves that Lord Blairimort has not really been TRYING very hard!
Needless to say, Mr Man O'Straw's ideas are NOT VERY GOOD.
The things wrong can be simply listed as:
- Too many Lords still appointed (patronage)
- Elected Lords come from a party list (more patronage)
- Anglican bishops get to keep free seats (nasty frocks… and even more patronage).
Not everyone was as full of praise for Mr Man O'Straw's efforts as he was himself, though.
We saw the Baroness Kennedy (Mr Charles in drag) debating with Lord Lippe, (the Labour peer and SPECTRE henchman), (and NOT Lord Livsey, (the Liberal Democrat!) as one correspondent of the Newsnight Show seemed to think).
Lord Lippe thought that the House of Lords Club should have lots of appointed members – like him – so that they would have appropriate expertise for a wide range of debates.
He then thought he had scored a coup when he accused Baroness Kennedy of only being in the House of Lords Club for 41% of votes. Lord Lippe himself has a very commendable 71% attendance record, where he almost always does exactly as Lord Blarimort tells him. (Unless it's a hunting bill.)
But Baroness Kennedy struck back, saying that it was more important to attend the votes that MATTERED, the ones where (to use his own argument back at him) her expertise was appropriate.
Baroness K said that ACCOUNTABILITY was key, and that only comes from getting ELECTED. I agree: to be legitimate legislators you have to give the people the option to get rid of you and choose someone else.
Lord Lippe said it was a JOLLY GOOD THING that the government's proposals meant that no one could get rid of HIM and that he would continue to give everyone the benefit of his expertise by always being there to vote for the government NO MATTER WHAT!
Thus concisely proving the urgent need for an all elected chamber.
Seriously, there is nothing but SNOBBERY involved in saying that we need a SPECIAL PANEL of IMPORTANT PEOPLE to pick other IMPORTANT PEOPLE who would be able to run the country better than anyone that we ORDINARY folks might choose. That is patronising NANNY-KNOWS-BEST talk! That is what the word 'patronage' means! So you can guess what Lord Blairimort's preferred option is, can't you!
Parliament is going to have the choice of how many of the new Lords should be elected. Their choices will be: all of them, 80%, 60%, half-and-half (Mr Man O'Straw's choice – see Pie above), 40%, 20% or none at all.
Mr Man O'Straw wants to avoid a repeat of the 2003 debacle when, in spite of the 80% elected option obviously being the House's preferred option (coming within 3 votes of actually passing), all options ended up being rejected, leaving us stuck with an all-appointed Lords even though this was much more defeated in the votes. He has therefore proposed that MP's should have a ballot where they list their preferences in order. There have been protests that this is FAR TOO COMPLICATED.
That is NONSENSE. It is just AV. A baby elephant of 5 could do it! That will not leave MANY MPs struggling.
And since the general public are generally a bit brighter than their MP's, I don't see why a voting by preference scheme should be okay for MP's but not for everyone else. Forget these daft lists – they are only a terrible method for the parties to keep tight control on the sort of people that we the people get to choose as our representatives. Let the Lords stand on their own merits and in their own names. Perhaps people would like the chance to vote for SOME Liberal Democrats and not others. I am CERTAIN that they would like to choose some of the Labour and not others! Maybe they would rather vote for someone of no party at all. Like Mr Balloon.
There is also the question of the new name for the House of Lords Club.
Mr Man O'Straw's suggestion was "The Reformed House" which makes it sound like a rehab centre run by the teetotal society.
So the BBC have asked people to write in with better suggestions. The WITANGEMOT sounds fun!
Personally, I think that the new name should be the ELEPHANT HOUSE! (And the House of Commons to be renamed the Monkey House, obviously.)