Friday, 14 January 2011

Defending Rotten Boroughs are a Rotten Group of Life Peers

Michael Martin, the first Speaker of the House of Commons to be forced out of office for three centuries, was elevated to the House of Lords by Gordon Brown. (How the fingertips cringe at typing those two names in the same sentence).  Few were surprised at such rewards  for the allegiances Martin had displayed.  A seat in the Lords has been a Scottish weakness for  many centuries; lots of Scots let down their countrymen for just that (although they didn't have the opportunity to let down the whole United Kingdom).

Noblesse oblige in downfalls; no need to rub it in.  Or is there?

Martin is creating mischief in that refuge from political defeat or political shame - a life 'peerage'  in the House of Lords.  As Blue Eyes so succinctly puts it "The Labour party is desperately trying to retain its gerrymandered stranglehold on Parliament. It is disgusting."  And a central figures in this cluster of 'Lords' maintaining a fillibuster  is Martin.

Lord Strathclyde (who is the real thing) is threatening a guillotine and has now been accused of Mugabe behaviour by a Labour life 'peer'.  Frankly the Lords has been rendered ridiculous by these temporary adjuncts helicoptered in to save governments of the day or remove bed-blockers from the Commons.  They even wear a version of the uniforms of the various 'pensioners'
It's time to leave them in their picturesque outfits and idiosyncratic behaviour and elect a second chamber.  Then we could keep Lord Strathclyde and kick Martin -  even though he's down, he's asked for it.


Blue Eyes said...

Thanks for the link - high praise indeed from such a respected blog.

The HoL works as long as its inhabitants have some sort of national best interest/constitutional rigor at heart. In this instance they clearly don't.

I see no obvious answer (would an elected House behave any better?) but there must be improvements we can make. One of my A-level maths teachers used to say that there is ALWAYS a better solution.

hatfield girl said...

'would an elected House behave any better?'

Yes, because the members would be answerable, in the end, to the electorate as in the Commons. But I'd settle for a single House - the Commons - and a proper constitutional court to which access was universal. The Lords are really a historical leftover that has been instrumentalised by the Executive to strengthen its hand against the Legislature.

I'd solve the problem of an isolated monarchy were the Lords to be abolished by abolishing the monarchy too. In the past I've thought an upper House could be kind of training or testing ground for those we might consider for election to head of state but I've changed my mind; we can consider whose worthy of such an office by their general comportment in whatever area of activity they act.

hatfield girl said...

'Who's' even :)

Nomad said...

"There is always a better solution".

Indeed, but poisoned chalices are so 1st century...

hatfield girl said...

Sometimes UK politics is positively BC, Nomad.