The Futility Monster

He'll pointlessly derive more enjoyment out of your resources than you

Posts Tagged ‘House of Lords reform’

11 For 2011

Posted by The Futility Monster on January 2, 2011 @ 11:11

OK, so it’s hardly the return of the Futility Monster, here, but two posts in two days does mark something of a minor miracle. Even so, it’s unlikely to be repeated. Maybe I will try and write something at least semi-frequently. Maybe once a month or something.

But for now, more to get it down in writing than anything else, here comes my top 11 predictions for 2011.

  1. The AV referendum will pass. Call me a hopeless optimist, but I believe Ed Miliband will drag the Labour Party, kicking and screaming, behind the campaign as a show of his authority and capacity for “change”. This will encourage the Lib Dems to give it their full support. It will scrape home. Just.
  2. The “Other” 2011 referendum – in Wales – will also succeed, but with a larger majority in favour.
  3. Following that, Welsh Labour will win. But perhaps not as big as they will hope. I predict an extremely close finish, with them just falling below the magic 31 seats for outright majority control.
  4. The Scottish Nationalists will lose power in Scotland’s May general election, but they will only be replaced by an enfeebled Labour minority, who may struggle to find partners to get its legislation and budgets through.
  5. Meanwhile, in London, the Coalition will last the whole year, without too many hiccups, despite sluggish economic data.
  6. Somewhere during the year, the Liberal Democrats will hit another low in their post-2010 election opinion poll woes.
  7. In the post-May reshuffle, Nick Clegg will receive a real portfolio in a bid by David Cameron to shore up support for the coalition amongst demoralised Liberal Democrat MPs. Home Office, anyone?
  8. Also to boost the Lib Dems, House of Lords reform (defined here as anything 80% or more elected), will pass the Commons, but die a sad death in the Lords itself.
  9. Looking abroad, Silvio Berlusconi will finally reach the end of his woeful Prime Ministerial career. Having said that, his replacement will hardly be any better.
  10. Barack Obama will have a traumatic year: under fire from the hostile House of Representatives, a ceaseless war in Afghanistan, and unable to achieve anything of great significance. This will seriously damage him running into the pivotal 2012. And if that happens, expect Sarah Palin to run for the Presidency. Whether she gets the nomination, however, will have to wait till next year’s prediction…
  11. Finally, North Korea will come back to the negotiating table at long last. But will a deal be reached? Extraordinarily unlikely. Unless Kim Jong Il croaks it, and his son is, to everyone’s shock, slightly less of a lunatic than his father…

As for who wins this year’s Premier League, alas, it’ll be no one other than Manchester United.


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Eroding The Lords

Posted by The Futility Monster on August 5, 2010 @ 18:23

Just what kind of image would have been relevant to this post anyway?

Another thing interesting about coalition government is what is going on in the House of Lords. It’s been a long time since the governing party had a working majority there, ever since the hereditary peers were ditched.

But now, with Tory and Lib Dems combined, and with the new peers they have added, Baroness D’Souza on Lords of the Blog has sounded the alarm

It is reliably rumoured that the Government is planning to bring in yet more coalition peers come the Autumn. It already has a working majority of approximately 38 (the numbers change from day to day due to influx of new peers) and could have a majority nearer to 80 or more. This would place it in the same position as New Labour in the House of Commons in the last Parliament.

Baroness D’Souza has at least some authority here, as the Convenor of the Crossbench peers.

The idea of a government majority in both chambers is perhaps a bit worrying. Though their noble Lord and Ladyships have always been a little rebellious, and rather difficult to actually get in Parliament from day-to-day, there is still a hardcore of peers who attend regularly, and, if present trends continue, could be relied upon by the government to ensure it always gets its way.

In some respects, it would be sweet justice were this to happen. People like me, who have long argued against the uncodified constitution we have precisely because it could lead to its “conventions” being ignored by a government that doesn’t like them, might actually start getting listened to if the so-called “revising” chamber no longer does any revising.

Of course, we could blame it all on Labour. After all, they had 13 years to do something properly about it. Now they could be squished into submission in both Houses if the coalition sticks together. Thanks, as always, go to the useless Jack Straw, long-term opponent of House of Lords reform.

Whatever happens, though, I’m willing to bet that the muscle the Lords used to flex in keeping the Labour government under control will not be as used in this Parliament.

Unless they’re trying to stop elections to the House of Lords, of course.

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This Must Be Stopped

Posted by The Futility Monster on May 29, 2010 @ 10:22

All shall bow before the Ermine!

Yesterday’s unveiling of the dissolution peerage lists has to be the last time we see this kind of thing happening.

The list is a veritable Who’s Who? of the failed, the disgraced, the defeated and the meddling ones who had decided they wanted to continue to be in politics but not have to face the trifling inconvenience of facing the electorate by defending their seat.

The Labour list is particularly galling.

  • Quentin Davies: turncoat, couldn’t bring himself to face the certain defeat that was the consequence of his defection
  • John Hutton: couldn’t hack it any more in the Commons, apparently, so send him to the Lords instead…
  • Jim Knight: defeated
  • Tommy McAvoy: Gordon Brown lackey rewarded
  • John Prescott: expenses, so-called class warrior being unable to refuse the temptation of the ermine
  • John Reid: retired, wants to continue meddling
  • Angela Evans Smith: defeated
  • Michael Wills: Gordon Brown lackey rewarded

The Lib Dem and Tory appointments are not much better, but at least there are fewer of them.

The House of Lords is treated as a play-thing by party leaders as yet another weapon of patronage at their disposal. The sad thing is that, at the same time, the country appears to be woefully ignorant of the fact that these very generous gestures are not the equivalent of giving someone a nice title so we can call them Sir.

Oh no. It is conferring on them the potential of a lifelong seat at the expenses trough, and with the potential for continuing to influence government and legislation way after their democratic mandates have run their course.

That should be an embarrassment to our democracy.

The House of Lords has zero legitimacy. Our ancestors recognised that a century ago and tried to do something about it.

A century later and we’re still waiting.

The time for commissions and inquiries is over. If the Lords is not reformed in this first or second session then it never will be. Only a 100% elected House of Lords will suffice, and if that is not the outcome of these first two years, then the Coalition government will have failed its first test to clean up and strengthen British politics.

Or maybe they’ve failed their first test already

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