What You Can Get Away With » lords reform

We all remember some of the shameful things that happened in Parliament during the last Labour government. Chief among them, of course, were the repeated times when the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats used their majority of votes their to repeatedly block any attempts to discuss House of Lords reform. Then, when it managed to get through, they repeatedly voted down Labour’s proposals for a 100% elected second chamber and referendum on the issue. They certainly weren’t a government who got extremely half-hearted about Lords reform after removing most of the hereditary peers, and allowed whatever meagre Parliamentary time they allocated to discussing it to end in inconclusive votes that achieved nothing beyond kicking it into the long grass for years.

I don’t recall any of that happening, but it must have done for this to make any sense. Otherwise, it’d just be someone blocking the chance to have any further reform of the Lords in order to play political games.

Oh, and the whole ‘we should be concentrating on the economy and not doing anything else in Parliament’ argument? Take a look at this list of bills announced in the 2009 Queen’s Speech when the economy wasn’t doing too well either. Oddly, that seems to have a number of bills included in it (including ones on constitutional reform and Lords reform) that are nothing to do with the economy. Perhaps the Labour Party of 2009 – unlike their modern-day counterparts – were able to understand that it’s possible for a Government and a Parliament to do more than one thing at once.

What might have happened if someone had told William Beveridge there was no time for him to waste writing reports on social insurance while there was a war on?

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Remember when the Tories appeared to be in favour of reforming the House of Lords, and even electing it? Well, looks like that’s been sacrificed on the altar of their all-consuming hatred of Peter Mandelson.

Yes, the very idea that Mandelson might be allowed to – like almost anyone else in a free society – resign from one position to seek another is just so anathema to the Tories that they’ll attempt to stop it from happening. The fact that this just prolongs the absurdity of the existence of the House of Lords (where, let’s remember, Jeffrey Archer is still entitled to vote on the laws of the country) is neither here nor there – no principle is too high to be jettisoned in the desire to stop the people being able to vote on whether Peter Mandelson should be in Parliament.

I’m no fan of Mandelson, and I’m sure a Labour Party led by him would go down to defeat just as heavily as one led by Gordon Brown, but next time you hear Tories complaining about the ‘unelected’ Mandelson, do remind them that it’s in their power to remedy that situation.

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