A Sad Day for Democracy

Those who make the laws should be elected by those that have to abide by the laws.

Today is a sad day for democracy.

I wanted Lords Reform because I believe that the people who make the laws should be elected by those who abide by the laws. Becoming a lawmaker because of accident of birth or preferment by a party leader is no replacement for having an election.

When reform was discussed last month, the vote was 462-124 in favour of the principle, a majority of 338. Only 91 Tories, 26 Labour and 8 DUP MP’s voted against reform, including Manchester Labour MPs Gerald Kaufman and Graham Stringer.

I expect right wing Tories and parliamentary dinosaurs to oppose reform.

But Labour’s line is without principle or credibility. How can you argue that you are in favour of reform of the House of Lords and then vote against a timetable for debate that is put in place to ensure that the legislation cannot be scuppered by delaying tactics of opponents of reform?

And refuse to say how much time for debate is enough time.

At the same time, how can you argue that there are more important issues to deal with in Parliament and then vote against a timetable that would allow those other debates to take place? This was Labour’s position.

Of course, part of the job of an opposition is to oppose. But those tactics only take you so far. Ask Neil Kinnock. Part of the job is to offer an alternative, and that’s what Tony Blair did before 1997 which Ed Milliband is not doing now.

The 67% of the electorate who supported these reforms have been thwarted on a technicality.

This is a bad day for democracy.

7 responses to “A Sad Day for Democracy

  1. Sorry John you can’t be blaming Labour for this can you? I thought Clegg & Cable had negotiated the Coalition agreement 2 years ago with Cameron agreeing to vote with the Tories on a range of slightly dodgy issues on the understanding that Cameron would push through reform of the Lords. The grand prize! I submit that Cameron never had intention of so doing. Lib Dems wrongfooted again by their Coalition partners.

  2. Frustrating and annoyed to read this. One of the things that holds us back as country in reform is time wasting and opposition without good cause.
    Lead, follow or get out of the way!

    Thank you for campaigning Mr Leech MP.
    PS. Bureaucracy being another

  3. A disappointing day indeed. Lords reform is a very sticky topic especially in a country like England which is especially bogged down in tradition and convention. For me, Lords reform has always been an interesting topic and I genuinely thought that it would go through this time, with Lib Dems on the leading side and Labour on the opposition. It destroys an opposition party’s credibility when they childishly oppose something just because they want to cause trouble for the other side. I thought Lords reform would demonstrate Commons’ ability to overcome party politics and agree on something that is clearly a good idea.

    Back to the drawing board then…

  4. I agree – Labour and Tories have combined to oppose much-needed reform. People say that they’re more concerned about the economy etc. but our economic woes come, in part, from the tit-for-tat two-party politics which the Lords and FPTP elections to the Commons reinforce.

    Until we get major reform of politics in this country, including proportional representation and an elected upper house, these problems are going to continue to recur and all successive Governments can do is veer from crisis to crisis.

    Labour should not be opposing for the sake of it something which was in their own manifesto, as half of them did on AV, and as they’ve done on the Lords – if they wanted a referendum, they should have voted for the timetable motion and introduced an amendment calling for one.

  5. Meaningful Lords reform will always be opposed by the establishment who run this country for their own benefit. Labour used to be the party that opposed privilege, but are now firmly a part of the establishment their forebears fought so hard to reform. The establishment did to its chief opponents what it used to do to its opponents in the colony’s, buy them off. Many of us will recall John Prescott railing against the House of Lords as a bastion of privilege. How do the Labour supporters who applauded him reconcile his subsequent acceptance of a peerage and his determined efforts to block electoral and lords reform?

    The fight to reform the Lords has been going on for a very long time. In a speech in October 1858, the great Liberal reformer John Bright said of the Lords; ” We must decide this question. Choose you this day whom you will serve. If the Peers are to be your masters, as they boast that their ancestors were the conquerors of yours, serve them. But if you will serve only the laws, the laws of your country, the laws in making which you have been consulted, you may go on straight to discuss this great question of Parliamentary Reform.”

    Reform will come, but we must never under-estimate the powerful forces who oppose it and their ability to frustrate, buy-off or bribe those who most threaten them. History is on our side. Our greatest and most revered leaders have all been reformers. Those who opposed the march of progress have been lost to oblivion, their opinions ridiculed by later generations. Those who stand up for reform today will be vindicated in time.

  6. We always knew Tories were against Lords reform. If Labour hadn’t colluded with Tory rightwingers then Lords would have become 80% elected.

    The Liberals and then the Liberal Democrats have consistently been in favour of reforming the Lords for a century. Compare that to Labour, who failed to complete any meaningful democratic Lords reform during their 13 years of government, and now have a faustian# pact with Tory rightwingers to scupper reform.

    #Just to be clear the definition of a faustian pact is ‘where an ambitious person surrenders moral integrity to achieve power or success’.

  7. Mr Haslam. Lords reform was in all three manifestos. Only ONE of the three parties was whipped to scupper the bill, Labour.

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