Thursday, March 16, 2006

Stuff your Virtual Peerages

Various people seem to be exhorting us to buy a Virtual Peerage.

However, your humble Devil is not going to; your humble Devil is, for once, going to stick to his priniciples. Why? Because this Virtual Peerage rubbish is run by the Elect The Lords campaign.

I don't want the Lords elected, frankly. Has anyone noticed the shower of cunts that we have in one House, we don't need any more of those bastards. The Lords have been doing an excellent job, quietly, quietly for a very long time and I simply do not see the need for reform.

The only reason that anyone thinks that the Lords should be reformed is usually put forward under the terms that they are "undemocratic" and "an anachronism". It's a sort of ideological totalitarianism; people can quite happily overlook the fact that the disasters in this country have almost all been caused or severely exacerbated by the idiots that we elect. As for being an anachronism, well, so are many of our most basic and enduring laws. You know, those ones that everyone is up in arms about NuLabour riding roughshod over.

The whole Lords reform is a sort of mantra for people who just can't leave well alone. Just remember who has already tried to reform the Lords: you want reform, you are on the side of Toni. Who is more foolish—the fool or the fool who follows him? That's why I urge you to have nothing to do with these Virtual Peerages; personally, I would rather buy a used car from a paedophile network.

In the meantime, if anyone can give me any logical argument as to why we should reform the House of Lords (especially given their sterling work recently) that doesn't basically boil down to "they are not elected and elected is good" or "they are an anachronism and anachronisms are bad" then I shall reconsider my position. I don't think that I'm going to have to do that, frankly...

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Quite.

Our Lordships are the one real bulwark against Princess Tone and his bigoted, fascistic crones. They currently do their job very well. Why on earth would anyone want to pension them off?

Abolish the Commons! ;)

MatGB said...

No no no.

If we leave it as is, Tony gets to appoint the lot; he's already appointed more than any Prime Minister in history.

Note, I prefer an elected Lords to the status quo, but prefer a different way of keeping the principles of the revisionist chamber, but not appointed by the PM.

The Hereditaries are mostly gone, Tony wants to replace them with his appointees only. If it's a choice between "Tony chooses" and "we elect them", which do you go for?

Currently, they're the only two proposed options.

I'm working on a third...

Neil Harding said...

I'll tell you why we should get rid of the unelected Tory buffoons in the Lords.

I can understand why you right-wingers would want to preserve a Tory dominated institution like the Lords that only comes alive during Labour governments.

There are only 4 occasions since 1949 where they have refused to pass legislation and the Parliament Act has been invoked.

The Poll Tax I hear you cry.

No chance, not even ammended!

What about when Thatcher abolished local government. Surely the Lords would defend our local democracy.

You're having a laugh. Passed without a murmur.

Ok what was so important that they got all uppity about?

The War Crimes Act 1991 (The only time the Tories have had to use the act). This law allowed prosecution of Nazi criminals. The Lords felt that bygones were bygones and the elderly Nazis should be left in peace. Charming!

The European Parliamentary Elections Act 1999. The Lords voiced there opposition to PR, not surprising for a house that also opposes democracy!

The Sexual Offences Amendment Act 2000. This lowered the age of consent for gay men. The Lords didn't half get upset about young boys being 'buggered'. I wish the oldduffers would bugger off.

And of course the Hunting Act is the final law they held up.

It's nice to see what the Lords priorities are! It is a myth that the Lords are enlightened, they are mostly reactionary bigots, although it has got slightly more intelligent since all but 92 of the hereditory duffers were thrown out.

These 4 Acts are of course only the tip of the iceberg. Numerous useful bills have been held up or needlessly ammended. It has always been those bills that reduced poverty or gave the plebs social advance that were opposed, think of any social advance this century basically. The Lords have opposed or delayed more Labour bills since 1997, than Tory bills since WWII. This is not fair or democratic.

Anonymous said...

Neil, your fantasy versions of recent history have been repeatedly dealt with elsewhere, yet you continue to peddle them. You have a blog of your own where you can dribble out this nonsense ad nauseam, but when you post a comment on someone else's blog what you say really should have at least a passing resemblance to the actual facts. Please go away and read some real history first.

Anonymous said...

Oh God, I can't hardly bring myself to agree with Neil (especially his particularly moronic party-line version of the world), but I'm going with:

"They are not elected and elected is better than appointed".

Actually, I'm agreeing with MatGB there rather than Neil. Phew.

Devil's Kitchen said...

Katherine,

Why is elected better than appointed?

This is my point: why is it that this view should be prevalent? The Lords are good because they can take a long-term view: they can do this because they do not have to look to be reelected every few years.

Why have a second elected House, when we already have one (full of shits)?

DK

Anonymous said...

Okay, well imagine elected as being not necessarily elected every 4/5 years, but, say 10 years (just off the top of my head) and things start to look a bit less short term.

Also, as long as elections for the House of Lords were specifically not at the same time as elections for the Commons, you'd get more of a flavour of the general ebb and flow of public opinion.

And appointed will usually mean, and does, appointed by the government of the day. It is therefore entirely possible for that a government can stuff the Lords full of its own appointees (which is of course what Lloyd George threatened to do in 1911). It would be an outrageous thing to do, but perfectly possible and perfectly consitutional as things now stand.

Anonymous said...

How about choosing them by lot, for life? At the first general election, everyone who goes to vote gets a single lottery ticket for the next lotto draw, and everyone who matches five or more numbers (ie 5, 5 + bonus, 6 numbers) gets to be a life peer. It would make the numbers of peers a bit variable, but that's no bad thing - if every elector turned up to vote it would give an Upper House of 800 peers, based on the actual turnout in 2005 it would give about 488 on average.

At subsequent elections matching five + bonus or 6 numbers would suffice to fill the gaps caused by death, resignation, etc.

Actually, we could use this for the Commons too...

Blognor Regis said...

I oppose election because I believe democracy to be actively injurious towards liberty. As the heridary system is rather like a lottery why not have an actual lottery to pick the members. Any adult over a certain age is eligble for call up. It would be like jury service but you would be able to decline the post if selected. (You can't force people - certainly not if you wish to protect liberty.) Maybe there would be regular clear outs. Maybe members would be there for life and therefore the next member would only be selected when the old one dies or steps down.

Just a thought.

Nosemonkey said...

Blair may appoint some peers, but is restricted in the number he can appoint in one go, which is why it has taken him so long to get parity with the Tories. An inbuilt check on the system.

Blair also, via the Labour party machine, gets to approve many Labour candidates in elections.

Elect the Lords, Blair/Labour would be able to pack the upper House with cronies via the electorate in one fell swoop. Same if the Tories ever get back in.

The current system - while not as good as the old hereditary one for maintaining impartiality and a sense of duty to country rather than party - helps ensure that any changes to the upper House are slow, not radical. This in turn helps prevent radical changes to the country as a whole, like those dear Mr Blair is proposing.

It's not by any means perfect, and the current half-arsed system certainly needs refinement. But I'm with DK on this one - all the "elect the Lords" stuff sounds like democracy for democracy's sake.

You have to look at the entire system before going down that route - an elected Lords may well be a sensible option one day, but until we've got full separation of powers, with the executive as well as the judiciary split off from the legislature, electing the buggers is the quickest route to elective dictatorship we could possibly take.

MatGB said...

Oh dear. Oh dear oh dear oh dear.

Neil? As others have observed, get your facts straight.

When the Lords blocked the EPE Act in '99, it wasn't because they opposed PR, far from it, they wanted a better system than the abomination that is Closed Lists. Closed lists are a worse system for elections than FPTP, they give even more power to party heirarchies. They weren't being anti-democratic, they were being more democratic than Tony.

Ye gods man, stop destroying arguments by being on almost the right side.

I like the way that virtually everyone is talking about selection by lot as a good plan; been in favour of it for ages. DK links to my post mentioning it above, which in turn links to Jamie at Blood and treasure back from last years Elect the Lords day. My entry for that day shows how much my writing has improved in the last six months of blogging. Rather good that.

DK; Elected is better than the current system of appointment. I'd be reasonably happy if the Lords were appointed on a meritocratic basis from a wide variety of professions, etc, by a non-partizan body.

I'd prefer a different option, but still. I'm not happy with the Lords being appointed by Tony to whoever gives a decent donation to Labour.

That's an insane system.

Anonymous said...

Nosemonkey - I note what you say about the current restriction on the number of Lords that the government can appoint. But who makes the rules on how many Lords the government can appoint, eh? That's right - the government of the day.

Nosemonkey said...

Yep. As with many things it relies on the government having a sense of honour and not trying to take the piss too much. Which by now we all know we can't trust Blair to adhere to.

Nonetheless, before we get full separation of powers, there's no way anyone's going to be able to convince me we should go for an elected upper House. The US system (while nowhere near perfect) is the obvious model for all those proposing the change - but the President and cabinet doesn't sit in Congress, whereas the UK equivalents still would. That's got "massive potential for abuse" written all over it.

Anonymous said...

"DK; Elected is better than the current system of appointment. I'd be reasonably happy if the Lords were appointed on a meritocratic basis from a wide variety of professions, etc, by a non-partizan body."

Ah, but quis seliget ipsos selectores?*

*Grammar school education showing through?

Neil Harding said...

Pete, Matgb etc, I'll sort of give you the closed lists thing (but that wasn't the reason most of the Lords opposed it), but what about the rest? Defending Nazis? Anti-homosexuals? Pro-hunting? Are any of you going to tell me how I'm being unfair or inaccurate on these?

I remember the quality of the debates, and I can tell you, there are some pretty nasty bigots who have bought their way into the Lords. What do we expect when most of them have got their by being corrupt.

Anyone who defends that bunch of privileged tossers is defending fascism.

By the way, I like the lottery idea, have mentioned it myself in the past.

Neil Harding said...

As for the accusation that I'm wrong about the Lords bias against Labour, let's look at the facts.

"The average number of defeats in the Lords is 23 per session since 1970-71. All sessions
since 1997/8, bar the pre-election session of 2000-1, have had a higher rate of Government defeats than any session since 1978-79. Previously, relatively high numbers
of Government defeats occurred during the 1974-79 Labour Government, particularly in
the first two sessions when over 85% of divisions that took place in the Lords were defeats for the Government.12 From 1970-71 to 1997-98, the average number of Government defeats per session under Labour Governments is 63 compared with 8 for Conservative Governments."

Devil's Kitchen said...

Neil,

Perhaps that's because Labour governments attempt to make more bad laws...? ;-)

DK

Neil Harding said...

Isn't it more likely that it's because there is an inbuilt Tory majority?

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