The House of Canards (Comment is Free)

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Busy, busy, busy… but I did find the time to write a piece on Lords reform over on Comment is Free last night.

I had originally written a totally different article, but in researching it I got increasingly annoyed by the same old canards against elections coming up again and again. Get with the program people: the House of Lords is not full of sober, independent individuals who eschew their party whips – they are more slavishly loyal than MPs. This is a fact. Get over it. Sheesh!

What bugs me about the whole debate on Lords reform is that it never seems to move on and the same nonsense arises again and again. It has probably been this way for 100 years. Maybe the only answer is to put some basic facts up on the side of a fleet of buses. Anyone got a spare £100,000?

3 thoughts on “The House of Canards (Comment is Free)

  1. Elections wouldn’t remove the whips, though, would they?

    I think the problem with Lords reform is that everybody has their own idea about how to do it, and ASSUMES that everybody else knows what they mean.

    When you say “elected house of lords” you could mean any number of things. You are using a shorthand that means different things to different people. This is why you keep getting hit with “the same old canards” – because when you say “elected house of lords” that brings up a set of assumptions about what you mean, and those assumptions will be different in every assumer.

  2. Elections wouldn’t remove the whips, though, would they?

    No they wouldn’t – and a good thing too. 90% of a whips job is entirely benign (actually, probably more than 90%, but I’ll stick with that figure for the sake of argument). Their job is to make sure people turn up, make sure people know which way to vote (normally MPs and Peers are perfectly happy to defer to their colleagues who have been specialising in a particular issue), negotiate with other parties when someone is likely to miss a vote and generally keep Parliament ticking over. There are of course incidents of whips bullying people and being heavy-handed, but generally politicians are happy to vote on a party line because it means they can concentrate on their own areas of special interest and ensures the voter gets what they think they are voting for.

    In terms of your point about assumptions, you have a point. But for the past decade the debate in Parliament has focussed around a relatively few set of proposals. I don’t expect the average person in the street to have followed the debate; I do expect paid columnists to have done so. Yet by and large they prefer to ignore that debate.

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