Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Another turd in the offing (update)

Newly-minted Labour Whip Kerry McCarthy is positively salivating over Gordo's doomed 5 Year Tractor Production Plan plan for Building Britain's Future.
We're finally going to move towards an elected House of Lords, or a Senate as it might be called. The current life peers will be replaced in tranches, or so I understand it, by elected members.

Oh, goody-goody gum-drops—another House stuffed with corrupt, self-serving party apparatchiks and venal, mindless lobby-fodder.

I can hardly contain my joy.

It seems that, far from realising that they have utterly fucked up the country and buggering off both quickly and quietly, NuLabour are intending to entrench themselves in at least one House for as long as possible—because you can bet that it'll be bloody socialists stuffing the red benches.

Fucking hellski.

UPDATE: I left a comment similar to the above over at Kerry's place. Her response was as follows:
DK—your alternative to democratic elections is what, precisely?

To which I have replied thusly...

As The Bloke's Cookbook said
[in that he maintained that I objected to "the travesty of democracy that sits in the House of Commons", rather than democracy per se].

But I do not value democracy, in that I don't think that it is a good system (and certainly not the "representative" democracy that we have)—to cite the old canard, it's just the least worst.

Democracy delivers the tyranny of the majority, and not even a very big majority at that. What this means is that democracy delivers a system whereby a majority can vote, for instance, to steal as much of my money—or the money of the minority—as they like, and I cannot object. Nor can I opt out.

That is morally wrong. But at least, some will say, democracy allows the majority to vote out a bad government.

Except that it doesn't—or not in our "democracy".

This government, Kerry, was elected by 21.6% of the electorate: that is tyranny of the minority.

For me, the virtue of the Lords was that they were not elected, and they did not have to curry favour with either the political parties or the electorate.

As such, they have tended to uphold the basic rights and freedoms—as defined by our constitution—of the minority: they have been the only defenders of those who are effectively disenfranchised by our "democracy".


I have written a number of times about my dislike of democracy—especially the version that we practise—and I don't intend to rehearse my arguments right now (although I have another post on democracy and the lack of choice in the political parties in the offing).

I am always surprised at the fact that so many on the Left are fans of democracy: they seem constantly to back laws against the oppression of, say, homosexuals or ethnic communities, whilst being more than happy to oppress libertarians, etc. in order to achieve their aims. But then I am well aware that the Left has no moral consistency—it's just thoroughly annoying when they paint themselves as the moral arbiters of society.

Anyway, if you'd like a similar, but better-argued, perspective on democracy, may I recommend Doctor Vee's rather good post on the subject.


North Northwester said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
North Northwester said...

Oh yes: when you've screwed the pooch you should shoot the pooch and get another dog.

It wasn't hereditary peers, or life peers or even most appointees of Mr Blair's who bet the economy on a horse that fell at the fifth - it was the Commons consensus of 'spend now' and to hell with the future.

More vote-grabbing dick-heads taking us down the path to oblivion? No thanks. How about choosing some of us by lot,like jury service, and we can debate and vote online?

G.O.T. said...

Didn't Gordon Brown once say that he would do anything to save this Country?
Or was he lying?

Anonymous said...

More smoke and mirrors - changing our constitutional arrangements as if it mattered any more. From 1st January they will be completely changed, theoretically forever, when the British constitution is binned and we enter the bright new dawn of the EU Reich, with its brand spanking new constitution (only rejected 3 times by the people of the only 3 countries allowed to vote on it), which guarantees that you will be the livestock of a state which cares not one jot for freedom, democracy and the rule of law.

But you will have rights, first amongst them being the right to do as you are told.

Can't wait...

Henry Crun said...

It's not the hereditary peers that need replacing, it's the troughing appointed by Blair'n'Brown commissars that need dragging out of Westminster Hall and shooting like dogs in the street.

john in cheshire said...

How about repeal all the legislation that has been enacted over the past 12 years. Including reinstating the House of Lords to how it was? This would see all the bogus lords having to give up their titles. It couldn't be any worse than what has replaced it.
As an aside, how does one address one of the 'New Labour' lords, if one doesn't think they deserve the title? After all, no one voted for them.

The Nameless Libertarian said...

Constitutional/parliamentary reform is the last refuge of the politically damned. No wonder Brown is proposing it. And no wonder McCarthy loves it.

Anonymous said...

If Brown tries to do anything serious constitutionally in the next year then I predict with almost certaintly there will be a bloody revolution and Browns head will end up on a stick outside parliament.

And I hereby give notice that I will do whatever I can to ensure that happens.


James Higham said...

Oh, goody-goody gum-drops—another House stuffed with corrupt, self-serving party apparatchiks and venal, mindless lobby-fodder.


Michael said...

"Oh, goody-goody gum-drops—another House stuffed with corrupt, self-serving party apparatchiks and venal, mindless lobby-fodder."

They don't have to be, do they? What if they were elected for fixed terms and could not serve as ministers? What if we had two per county, one of them to be a woman?

All very unlikely of course.

Old Holborn said...


Umbongo said...


"how does one address one of the 'New Labour' lords,"

Well, DK's favourite epithet - cunt - will do for starters.

Morus said...

DK - there's a new 'study' out claiming 20% of all Scots die because of alcohol consumption.

Previous studies gave lower numbers, because they only counted diseases that were 'wholly attributable' to drinking - now it's 'more accurate' by including diseases like stomach cancer etc which 'may' be caused by alcohol.

More grist, apparently, to the minimum price mill.

Guess where, and how, this was reported. Auntie BBC of course!

Bill Sticker said...

That's compulsory ID cards scrapped OH. You can still have one if you really want. :)

As for an elected upper house, how about a ban on party affiliations as a condition of (Elected) membership? Might help. Otherwise, as you so lucidly point out, you'll be stuck with the same old bunch of party hacks.

Umbongo said...


IMHO if Labour (somehow) gets back in the compulsory ID scheme will be resurrected in all its disgusting glory. Anyway, there is no mention of an intention to break up the underlying database so I wouldn't be too optimistic that we've seen the last of this.

Call me Infidel said...

When the likes of Kerry McCarthy are elevated to the lofty heights of government whip you know that they are finished. Truly a government of all the talents. All the talents of a cess pit that is.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you, DK. We have something of a parallel here in the U.S., the heinous 17th Amendment which changed the U.S. Senate from being elected by the state legislatures to being popularly elected. It has been down hill ever since.

"George Will argues we should repeal the Seventeenth Amendment. I doubt it will happen–too many people are convinced of the Populist notion that the more direct the democracy, the better. But I’ve been arguing for years that this measure would restore a great measure of federalism to the US, and that we would generally benefit from such a change."


bella gerens said...

Anon. 2.22:

Are you joking? The state legislatures are, if possible, even more corrupt and unaccountable than the national. I speak as one who knows. Having had most of their power stolen by the central government, they get their kicks from, in petty-Hitler style, creating minor infractions for which they then prosecute offenders to the teeth. They also circumvent their own state constitutions and bring frivolous suit against members of opposing parties.

Give the selection of senators back to the state legislatures? Not unless you want exactly the same situation as in this country, where the gift of a seat in the Lords often goes to donors and campaigners of whichever party is in power - and people like Michael Martin. Imagine: instead of pardoning him, Gerald Ford could have assisted Nixon in becoming a senator!

Anonymous said...

Damn right, I'm serious. First, how the hell does a Brit know how responsive U.S. State Legislators are? They are in fact more responsive than the ones in Washington.

Second, it is simply about power, and the States have none in Washington right now. it is what has led to the radical expansion of Federal government.

I'm not naive, wherever there is money and power there will be corruption. However, under the old system the corruption was localized instead of nationalize as it is now.

Hell the seats in the Senate now go to those who get the most money for their campaigns. Take Conn. Senator Chris Dodd, hell he's gotten $223,700 from the Royal Bank of Scotland for God's sake. He's one of the big players in the financial meltdown and 4 of his 5 top donors are financial companies, Citicorp, SAC Capital, RBS, and Bear Stearns. That's not fucking corrupt?

So yeah, you goddamn right I'm for going back to the old system at least Senators had look out for the interests of the Sates, rather than their own.

Anonymous said...

Link for Chris Dodd donors

Devil's Kitchen said...


"First, how the hell does a Brit know how responsive U.S. State Legislators are?"

Just so you know, Bella Gerens is an American.


Verity said...

Return the hereditaries who were, by and large, not compulsive attendees and only turned up when there was a debate that really interested them, or on which they could offer special expertise. They were largely remote from politics and their ambitions lay elsewhere, which meant we had probably the most uncorrupt second chamber in the world.

Strip all these new "peers" of their titles, except Norman Tebbitt. But especially Peter Mandelongtitle.

tipple said...

Lucky me gets to vote against her come the day as she's my MP for the time being. Saying that, what a bunch of shits live round these parts & they will probably lap at her squiffy bits.

WV-shummiza - Kerry's new position in the boudoir.

Ian B said...

The problem isn't with democracy itself- the idea that when a collective decision has to be made, a vote is the fairest way to do it- is very natural to people. The error is in applying the democratic system to all things, or to any thing, anyway. That is, democracy, voting, whatever, should only be applied when a collective decision is unavoidable, and that situation only occurs when individual choices cannot be accomodated, which is actually quite a rare case. An obvious extreme case is going to war. It's inherently collective, and a collective decision has to be made. But what people should have for lunch, individual choice can be accomodated there and so no democratic decision is needed.

It's not the system. It's misapplication of it.

The problem with so called free liberal democracies is that they still have collective sovereignty over all things (USA: nearly all things, slightly restrained by the remnant of the Constitution). The parliament of Britain is sovereign[1] and is thus empowered to take any decision it likes. It could order every black person killed, or that children should obligatorily work in coal mines, or that everyone must wear green underpants on a tuesday on pain of death.

All arguments about political systems thus fall into the same trap of arguing how this absolute sovereignty should be justified and who gets to wield it. The actual problem is the sovereignty itself. If the parliament were not sovereign, but were instead an office with a few limited roles to carry out, more of a "people's subcontractor", then the method of choosing sovereigns would not be an issue. You could advertise for somebody to run a particular department in the newspaper, and so on. Who cares? He's just a functionary.

It's the dreadful power of governments that cause all the argument about franchises and systems. Bastiat said this two centuries ago- peasants want the franchise purely because the government has such immense absolute power to harm or even destroy them. Take that power away, and the whole argument doesn't matter any more.

We shouldn't have a government. Let's replace it with an administration. And for heaven's sake, deprive it of the legislative power. It's like handing a box of fireworks, matches and a can of petrol to a room full of five year olds.

[1] I know, the EU, forget it for now.

North Northwester said...

Ian B

"We shouldn't have a government. Let's replace it with an administration. And for heaven's sake, deprive it of the legislative power. It's like handing a box of fireworks, matches and a can of petrol to a room full of five year olds."

Or as P J O'Rourke roughly said: 'Giving power and money to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenagers.'

I don't entirely agree with him or you as I'm a conservative, but you surely put the argument well.

I think the economics of politics needs to be explored more if your argument is to be strong - voting coalitions, the conspiracy of the disciplined few against the apathetic many, and so on.

I'll rephrase that - you need to address it more to be properly prescriptive about constitutional arrangements.

Pogo said...

I know that I'm a tad late to the fun, however...

IMHO, the best solution for the second chamber would be to select it by lot. I'm sure that "ERNIE" could be persuaded to knock out random shots at the electoral register.

Such selectees, subject to achieving certain minimum standards of literacy and numeracy (so that's the last Speaker disqualified for a start) should serve for, say 8 - 10 years as a maximum and be paid a decent salary etc for their services. Formal "party-based" alliances to be forbidden. I'm in two minds about whether to retain the Judges, on balance probably yes.

Mr. A said...

I've had this argument many times, with people saying, "How can you as a Libertarian support an undemocratic body like the House of Lords?"

Simple. The system we have isn't great but bearing in mind what we have to work with it's the best we've got. All the problems we have currently seen in the Commons are a result of "career" politicians - no life experience beyond student politics; a need to make as much money as they can before losing their seats; no desire to go against the Party and its whips in case they ruin their chances of promotion; a slavish desire to follow "populist" and often stupid policies in an attempt to safeguard their jobs....

The Lords has little of this. The very fact that they are unelected means that they don't need to worry about being populist - they can concentrate on the issues at hand; they are often experts in their field - it is sad that some of the best comments on tobacco legislation (and against ASH and the Government's other fake charity quangos) has been from retired Doctors in the Lords; and as they are not "career politicians" they are less likely to be whipped by their Party than the expense troughing toadies in the Commons who are only looking for a Cabinet post.

Finally, how would such a system work? Given the see-saw nature of UK politics where one Party wins by a landslide only to be voted out in disgust by the other party (with a landslide), we would have the undoubted situation where in 1979, for example, we would have had a Tory Commons and a Tory Lords. Or God forbid, in 1997 we would have had a Labour Lords and a Labour Commons. Whatever your political hue having two Houses of essentially the same Party would lead to nothing less than a Dictatorship. Besides, unelected the Lords may be but who cares? They can institute no new legislation - they can just put the brakes on whatever ill-thought piece of toilet paper gets put in front of them. This is presumably why Labour are so keen to get rid of them.

Also, is it really any surprise to anyone that the first piece of "Lords' corruption" in many years was not only perpetrated by Labour peers, but more importantly by newly-appointed non-hereditary peers?

Undemocratic the Lords may be but without them we wouldn't just be in a "soft Police state" (as the Australian Government recently called us).... we'd be in an English-speaking version of North Korea.