10 August 2012

Lib Dems should rethink Lords reform...

Now that any prospect of democratising the House of Lords has disappeared for the foreseeable future - thanks to a combination of out of touch Tory backswoodsmen and Lib Dem peers like the increasingly confused David Steel and the smugly authoritarian Alex Carlile, the Liberal Democrats should have a complete rethink on their approach to the Lords.

It is clear that there will always be - despite manifesto commitments to the contrary - a blocking minority in the Commons to any reform that gives the Lords the legitimacy of a public mandate.  And there is always going to be opposition from the less than noble Lords who see it as a comfortable rest home for the terminally self interested former politicians who make up the vast majority of its membership.

Given these constraints there seems to be only one way of getting rid of the democratic excrescence that means that laws are made by people - however worthy - who are unelected.  That is to call for the abolition of the Lords.

The Lib Dems should now propose a unicameral Parliament instead of trying to reform an unreformable Lords.  It kills stone dead the two arguments that caused this attempt at reform to be dropped - the primacy of the Commons and opposition to the proposed electoral system. 

No Lords means no elections and the Commons remains prime.  It also ends the sinecures for people like Steel and Carlile - allowing them to dissappear into the obscurity they deserve.

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