Tuesday, 10 March 2015

A perversion of democracy

The leader of the Scottish Labour party, Ed Miliband, has made clear that he intends to abolish the House of Lords should he be appointed Prime Minister following the General Election in May. I, and I am sure everyone else on the Left joins me in this, thoroughly welcome this promise: the existence of the Lords is an outrage; the lack of accountability for its members and the lack of any public input into its membership and composition shows that the Lords exists as a chamber to protect the Parliament from the people. It is plainly not acceptable that a country with pretensions of being a modern western democracy should be one of the only two Parliaments in the world which allows clerics to sit in it ex-officio (the other is that paragon of modernity, equality and integrity, the Majlis of Iran) and allows people to sit in it as a result of parentage and patronage rather than anything such as an election. 
 
Given that the Labour Party is now committed to abolition of the Lords, and thus the principle that the people deserve to decide who governs us and makes our laws, it would thus be a perversion of democracy of unimaginable proportions if the party was to use the Lords to save the political careers of Labour politicians thrown out of Parliament by Scotland's electorate in May.
 
When the electorate speaks, our rulers ought to tremble with fear in the face of their voice. To react to the choice of the Scottish people to defenestrate Scottish Labour MPs simply by putting them back into Parliament by some anti-democratic jiggery-pokery, would be unacceptable in the eyes of the Scottish people. 
 
The party, therefore, must rule out at the earliest possible opportunity - and certainly before the election - the idea of any Scottish Labour MP who loses their seat at the General Election being elevated to the Lords in the next Parliament. There must be no Baroness Curran of Mount Vernon; no Lord Murphy of Barrhead; and certainly no Baron Davidson of Govan. 
 
Scottish Labour should learn from the principled example of the Scottish National party which seeks to abolish the Lords and as such refuses to nominate peers to that, ahem, august body. But in the interim, they certainly have to make their position clear on whether they intend to subjugate democracy by sending Parliamentarians thrown out of Parliament by the public back to Parliament by the back door. 

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