MP’s vote to abolish Lords

! This post hasn't been updated in over a year. A lot can change in a year including my opinion and the amount of naughty words I use. There's a good chance that there's something in what's written below that someone will find objectionable. That's fine, if I tried to please everybody all of the time then I'd be a Lib Dem (remember them?) and I'm certainly not one of those. The point is, I'm not the kind of person to try and alter history in case I said something in the past that someone can use against me in the future but just remember that the person I was then isn't the person I am now nor the person I'll be in a year's time.

MP’s have voted to abolish the Lords and replace the upper house with an elected chamber.

This is bad for democracy, don’t be blinded by the “voting means it’s democratic” argument.

Before Labour “reformed” the House of Lords it was completely hereditary.  The political balance of the upper house was random.  Ok, it had a general leaning towards the Tories because rich aristocrats tend to be Conservatives.  However, none of that was set in stone – the political make-up of the House of Lords was decided entirely by an accident of birth.

Changing the upper house to a fully elected house is going to ensure that the House of Lords is dominated by the same party as the House of Commons.  Having proportional representation isn’t going to make enough of a difference – it won’t convince people to vote for a different party and PR isn’t going to make that much difference to the number of seats gained by each party.

There’s another issue too.  The House of Lords doesn’t revise devolved legislation so how is PR going to work?  Will the vote only be proportional to population or will it also be proportional to the amount of involvement in the democratic process that the House of Lords has?  England comprises 85% of the population of the UK and 80% of the work that the British government does only affects England so why should the vote of a Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish person be equal to the vote of an English person?  The House of Lords doesn’t have any involvement with the majority of decision-making outside England.  If you give equal weighting to relevance and population, about 90% of the vote should go to England alone based on population, English-only matters and a pro-rated share of British matters.  In fact, my estimate of 90% is erring on the safe side – I’d need more statistics to come up with a more accurate estimate.

The solution is a simple one – roll back Labour’s “reforms” which allowed them to appoint themselves a majority and politicise the upper house and restore the previous hereditary system.

This, of course, leaves you with another problem – unelected Lords over-ruling elected MP’s.  There is a solution in place in the Parliament Act which allows the British government to over-rule the Lords when they reject a bill 3 times in one session.  The Parliament Act has been used many times – more by Labour in the last 10 years than in a whole century of previous administrations – but it is flawed in itself.  If the Lords are so convinced that a piece of legislation should be blocked that they are prepared to block it 3 times in one session of parliament then there is obviously a major issue surrounding it and to allow the Commons to over-rule the Lords and ignore their concerns is equally wrong.

There is a way to make the House of Lords entirely hereditary and democratic.  All that is needed is to amend the Parliament Act so that in the event of an irreconcilable difference between both houses, the matter is put to a binding public referendum.  If the two groups of people charged with running the country for us can’t agree on an issue then the decision should be made by us.


  1. Calum (183 comments) says:

    Like i said to you earlier, i disagree. An unelected Lords is obviously undemocratic, there is no way any rational being can say heredatry & nominated Peers resemble any form of Democracy at all. To preserve an undemocratic instutition in one of the worlds oldest democracys is fundamentaly illogical. The Lords MUST be democratic. It is peverse for us to galavant around the globe, proclaming that we are spreading Democracy while only half of our Parliamentary legislative body (along with members of the executive) are unelected, thus undemocratic. I disagree that a hereditary Lords would be representative of the electorates view, it is incorect, as politicians are partisan, full stop.

    Any way. Interesting argument, but one which i beleive is fatialy flawed for one who proclams to beleive in democracy.

  2. Scaffold (146 comments) says:

    To Callum: You’re going to change your mind when Lords start to automatically rubberstamp any stupid decision made in the Commons.

  3. Dave W (6 comments) says:

    As someone with a long memory I believe that in the eyes of the Labour party and trade union movement the biggest crime the Lord’s ever committed was to be a more effective opposition to Maggie Thatcher in the 1980’s than they ever were. The Lords were certainly more effective in delaying and moderating the excesses of Thatcherism than the posturing middle class left wingers I had to endure at Uni.

    The ones who now dominate the Labour party, both Blairite and other.

    Of course the reason why the Tories haven’t fought tooth and nail to defend the Lords is exactly the same.

    The Lords weren’t perfect and it was undemocratic but at times it proved to be more in tune with the man on the street than members of our political intelligencia pontificating in a supposedly democratic assembley.

    As they say in the American military, “if it’s stupid but it works it ain’t stupid”.

  4. KeithS (80 comments) says:

    To talk of the Lords as being undemocratic is rather pointless. Most of the legislation affecting this country is drafted by the totally unelected EU Commission, a bunch of unelected European Civil Servants and ‘appointed’ Commissioners.
    They have considerably more power than, and are far less representative than, the House of Lords. I’d also suggest that they are far more corrupt

  5. Calum (183 comments) says:

    To Scaffold: You spelt my name wrong, not like it was just above where you typed it! Dummas. An partially elected Lords wont act as a mere rubber stamp on the Commons. Those elected Peers will probable remain slavishly loyal to the Party & the whip, but the appointed Peers are almost as bad. To be honest, elected party peers is a good thing, it places true democracy upon the Lords, thus legitmising its powers, thus making it harder for the Commons to dismiss all its critisism, citing (often falsley) that the Lords are out of toutch etc… An elected Lords will be a better one. By preserving some appointed Peers we will retain some of the benefits of appointees, sometines they are more impartial, appointed peers are less in the hands of the Whips etc… However, by electing say, 50-80% the Lords will be legitmised and therefore Birtish democracy will be enhansed. Furthermore, i beleive that anything that may get Hiliary Benn into Parliament again must be a good thing, i know you will disagree being a neo-fascist biggoted nationalist, but i beleive an elected Lords is the only option for a progressive democracy such as ours. Furthermore, it is the best means to preserving the Union (the UK) by preventing people becoming disenchanted with the UK, seeing it as an undemocratic elected distatorship-Commons- and an unelected, appointed dictatorship – the Lords. I say no english Devolution, as most of Westminster buisness is devoted to it and so on.

    AN ELECTED LORDS WILL BE A MORE RESPONSIVE ON, ONW WHICH CAN STAND UP MORE PROFICIENTLEY TO THE COMMONS. IT WILL ACT AS A CONSTUTITIONAL, & AN EXTRA-CONSTUTITIONAL CHECK ON THE COMMONS. – and God knows, when we (labour) are inevitably voted out of office, if the Lords is elected, we may be saved from the disaster which is the Tories, an elected Lords would never allow foolish legislation, such as Thatchers anti-union laws etc… and mass privitisation to go through.

  6. wonkotsane (1133 comments) says:

    When you consider that Scaffold’s first language is Russian, it’s quite a sad reflection on you that his spelling is better than yours!

    Appointed peers are nearly as bad as elected party peers would be for the very same reasons. Nobody is disagreeing that appointed peers are shite because they are. Before Liebour “reformed” the Lords so they could appoint their own peers the Tories had a majority – it took less than a year for Liebour to appoint themselves a majority. Hereditary peers are the best solution because they don’t owe anything to any party, they aren’t in the position they are because a party has put them there and it’s entirely possible that they won’t support any party at all.

    And don’t start spouting drivel about the union because the union is dead. Liebour killed it when they gave Scotland and Wales their own government and left England as the only part of the British Isles that doesn’t have its own government and the only nation in Federal Europe that doesn’t have any direct political representation. Disenfranchisment with the union is nothing at all to do with the Lords, it is almost entirely surrounding the West Lothian Question and the eurofederalist Liebour Party. Don’t you see the result of all the independent polls Calum? The majority of people in the UK don’t consider themselves British any more and the majority of the UK wants an English Parliament – even in Scotland.

    An elected Lords will be totally politicised with party whips and the pathetic, petty infighting that has reduced the Commons to a corrupt, criminal, seething mass of self-centred, crooked career politicians. When Liebour is voted out of office at the next election (or before with a bit of luck) then control of the Lords will go over to whoever wins the general election as well. The party that controls the Commons will control the Lords. People will not vote Conservative for the Commons and Liebour for the Lords. It’s not going to happen. The Lords have tried to stop “foolish legislation” that Liebour has imposed – anti-hunting, invading Iraq, ID Cards, Religious & Racial Hatred Bill, the Legal & Legislative Reform Bill (aka Abolition of Parliament) and many other illiberal, authoritarian laws that the Liebour facists have inflicted on an unwilling and increasingly pissed off English public. It was their opposition that has driven Liebour to attack them constantly, “reform” the Lords so they can appoint themselves a majority of Liebour yes-men (and women) and now to politicise the whole upper house so that there is no part of the democratic process that is immune from petty party politics.

    When you leave school, get a job and see what the real world is like under that shower of illiberal, crooked tossers that you’ve just joined you’ll soon change your tune.

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