Saturday, 2 June 2012

Unlock Democracy miss the point on Lords reform.

Unlock Democracy, whose superb stewardship of the "Yes to AV" campaign raised suspicion amongst those of us who are connoisseurs of conspiracy theorists that most of their funding came from obscure right-wing bodies, are now getting their teeth into the next essential campaign.  Heaven help us.

This week, they have bombarded social media with material drawing attention to the male, public-school world that the Lords consists of.  This is undoubtedly true, but the lack of social mobility, the glass ceilings that continue to exist and be created by the latest manifestation of aristocratic patronage in government, is hardly an argument for the reform of the revising chamber.  It is much more a dog-whistle to the kind of entitled lefties who inhabit the comment sections of newspaper websites who exist only to excoriate the Coalition and all its doings.

The reasons for reforming the Lords are constitutional, not social.  A second, legitimate chamber can provide challenge to the lower House in a way that the nominated farrago left behind by Blair (a typical example of New Labour requiring others to clear up the mess and finish the job) cannot - the belly-aching of drooling right-wing Tory backbenchers that they have been challenged in their stupidity by an "unelected" body would be eliminated.

Arguing that it will, in itself, improve social mobility, is facile at best.  The second chamber should be an empowered, revising entity that reflects the nations and regions of the UK, and which permits the kind of radical devolution required by English regions, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to remain within a national framework.  Imagination could solve the West Lothian question.

Yet we are told that the members of the House of Lords are the problem in themselves.  This is idiotic.  If this is the level of the reform debate then we can expect a further reinforcement of the status quo as a consequence of the alleged proponents of change, and their inability to construct an argument not based around ad hominem attacks but on the absurdity and undesirability of its continuation.

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