Problematising Boundary Review Is Just A Way Of Entrenching The Labour Party’s Structural Privilege


There are many obvious reasons for delaying or scrapping the upcoming constituency boundary review changes – but no good ones

See what I did with the headline there? Right-wingers can adopt the wheedling, victimhood-soaked language of the Cult of Social Justice and Identity Politics too, if we think it is going to advance our cause or smite our enemies.

Left Foot Forward editor Niamh Ní Mhaoileoin is in high dudgeon because the coming boundary review and shrinkage of the House of Commons from 650 seats to a slightly more manageable 600 MPs apparently means that too many of those who are left will be on the government payroll.

Ní Mhaoileoin writes:

The government’s plan to cut the size of parliament will increase the proportion of MPs on the government payroll, the Electoral Reform Society (ERS) has flagged.

According to new research, in a 600-seat Commons some 23 per cent of MPs would be on the government payroll, the highest proportion ever. The ERS warns that this could have ‘deeply worrying’ effects on parliamentary scrutiny and is calling for a cap on the number of payroll MPs.

‘This research shows we risk a crisis of scrutiny if the cut in MPs goes ahead without a corresponding cap on the number of payroll MPs,’ ERS chief executive Katie Ghose commented.

Having nearly a quarter of all MPs in the pocket of the PM is not a healthy situation for our democracy.

I think we can all agree that a body tasked with holding the executive to account which itself includes government ministers, parliamentary private secretaries and other hangers-on is always going to struggle to do an effective job – which is why many of us who think and care about constitutional issues all the time (as opposed to only when the system throws up a result we don’t like or disfavours our own preferred party) favour the total separation of the executive and the legislature.

Conservatives and progressives could potentially work together on reducing the size and cost of government while improving oversight by reducing the number of unnecessary junior ministers and official bag carriers, were it not for the leftist desire to have a government minister for everything under the sun, from Culture, Media and Sport to “Children, Young People and Families”. When your political philosophy expects and demands that the state be involved in every aspect of our lives, it inevitably necessitates a large cohort of ministers to do the meddling.

A cap on government payroll MPs would nonetheless be a reasonable (if typically British) compromise, but of course this is not what Ní Mhaoileoin really wants. And what Ní Mhaoileoin really wants is to maintain the current structural privilege currently enjoyed by the Labour Party. As Labour tends to perform best in urban seats, which themselves tend to be smaller and less populated than the suburban and rural constituencies where the Conservatives do well, the net effect for many years has been that it takes far fewer votes to elect a Labour MP than a Conservative MP.

Think of the gross anomaly whereby the SNP won 56 seats in Parliament at the 2015 general election with just 1.5 million votes, while UKIP won just a single seat despite winning 3.9 million votes. In the case of Labour and the Conservatives, the disparity is less pronounced – but it still exists. Boundary reform seeks to equalise constituency sizes, thus addressing the problem (though sadly not helping UKIP, who do not boast the SNP’s narrow geographic concentration of support). And this equalisation will enforce a basic fairness, the value of which makes it worth suffering through any negative side effects, particularly where these can reasonably be mitigated.

The concerns about the upcoming boundary review are well-rehearsed and rapidly becoming tedious. One might take them more seriously if those who raise the concerns showed any interest in solving or overcoming the issues that they raise rather than cynically using them as an excuse to halt something which – despite its inherent merit – is likely to be detrimental to the Labour Party’s electoral fortunes.

In short, this overwrought leftist concern about a toothless Parliament in the pocket of Theresa May is merely an attempt to problematise the issue of boundary reform, throwing a spanner in the works to prevent electoral disadvantage to Labour. Ní Mhaoileoin is doubtless in favour of reducing the size of the Commons as an abstrat theory, and if she were pressed through a hypothetical example would likely object to the current distribution of voters among seats which favours one party over another. But because the currently-favoured party in our system is Labour, and because Labour stands to lose out in relation to the Tories through this particular boundary review, Niamh feels compelled to oppose it.

But how to oppose something that is so self-evidently worthwhile and logical? The only way is to go grasping for every last flaw or possible technical hurdle in the review, inflating them out of all proportion and presenting each one as a show-stopper (or at least as justifiable grounds for interminable delay). As with the British Left’s general approach to Brexit, Ní Mhaoileoin is desperately problematising the boundary review, hoping to scupper it without ever having to reveal her true, grubby, anti-democratic reasons for doing so.

Smart politics? Maybe. The principled, moral, liberal thing to do? Absolutely not. Niamh Ní Mhaoileoin’s position is actually profoundly conservative – and not in a good way.

But apparently any behaviour, no matter how tawdry and self-serving, becomes noble and virtuous when it is performed in the service of the Labour Party.


Top Image: Wikimedia Commons

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Justin Trudeau And Elbowgate: Safe Space Hysteria In Canadian Politics

It’s not just the students. Now fully grown adults – even elected MPs – are using the victimhood-soaked language of social justice and identity politics to score political points

As legislative brawls go, it hardly ranked with the fine example set by the likes of Turkey and Ukraine. But this most Canadian of restrained altercations is noteworthy for another reason – the fact that those parliamentarians on the side of the “victim” almost immediately resorted to the language of social justice and victimhood when establishing their narrative to the press.

The Guardian gives the background:

Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, apologised in parliament on Wednesday after he was accused of “manhandling” one member of parliament and elbowing another, in conduct that sparked an uproar in Canada’s normally staid parliament.

Footage from inside the House of Commons showed Trudeau striding purposefully across the floor of the chamber and into a group of MPs, pulling Conservative Gord Brown by the arm to lead him to his seat so that parliament could begin a procedural vote.

Trudeau swore as he made his way to Brown, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, reportedly telling MPs to “get the fuck out of the way”.

As Trudeau led Brown from the group, he elbowed New Democrat MP Ruth Ellen Brosseau in the chest. Parliament descended into mayhem as MPs heckled and pounded their desks while New Democratic party leader Tom Mulcair shouted at Trudeau. “What kind of man elbows a woman? It’s pathetic! You’re pathetic!” Mulcair can be heard shouting.

A close watching of the video shows that Trudeau is clearly impatient and exasperated, and quite possibly very rude in the way that he tried to grab opposition whip Gord Brown. But the elbowing of Ruth Ellen Brosseau was clearly unintentional, if still a likely consequence of the way that Trudeau went charging in to the tightly packed group of MPs.

So was an apology from Trudeau for an accidental physical contact enough to satisfy his critics? Of course not. CBC reports:

An emotional Brosseau said later in the House that she had been “elbowed in the chest by the prime minister,” bringing Trudeau to his feet once again to “apologize unreservedly.”

Brosseau said she was so upset from the incident that she had to leave the chamber, subsequently missing the vote.

Her NDP MP colleague Niki Ashton said she was deeply troubled by Trudeau’s actions.

“I am ashamed to be a witness to the person who holds the highest position in our country do such an act. I want to say that for all of us who witnessed this, this was deeply traumatic. What I will say, if we apply a gendered lens, it is very important that young women in this space feel safe to come here and work here,” she said.

“He made us feel unsafe and we’re deeply troubled by the conduct of the prime minister of this country.”

Far more disturbing than the incident itself is the fact that Brosseau, who clearly was not seriously hurt in the incident, nonetheless felt so emotionally overwhelmed by an accidental physical contact that she was unable to perform her duties in the House and had to leave the chamber. More depressing still is the way in which her colleague, Niki Ashton, whines about the incident using the same fragile, aggrieved tones that we have come to expect from student activists fully inducted into Cult of Social Justice and Identity Politics.

Ashton claims that the event was “deeply traumatic”, not just for Brosseau who was hit, but for every single other person who witnessed the event. It is worth replaying the video at this point, to marvel at the notion that “trauma” could be inflicted on anybody from so minor an incident. And then comes the inevitable cry that the Canadian House of Commons is no longer a “safe space” for women MPs – all because of an unintentional physical contact between a man and a woman.

Seriously. The Canadian House of Commons, an unsafe space. Aside from the terrorist shooting in 2014, there are probably few spaces in the world as safe as the Canadian parliament. To claim that a highly secure building protected by armed guards and filled with generally mild-mannered politicians is “unsafe” is not only incredibly self-obsessed, it also does a disservice to people who may work dangerous jobs, live in rough neighbourhoods or grow up in broken families, all of whom have legitimate cause to fear for their safety. But no, let’s all worry that the Canadian parliament is somehow a seething hotbed of misogyny, just because the prime minister lost his temper and brushed past somebody a bit roughly.

Even the safest of spaces – like the Canadian parliament – cannot prevent unfortunate accidents, or occasional random acts of stupidity. Trudeau’s was just such an act, for which he apologised fulsomely. But we should all be concerned by the reaction to the incident, for it reveals something festering and growing in our culture.

So far, this blog has covered 37 distinct “Tales from the Safe Space“, covering incidents of student authoritarianism, attacks on free speech and excessive mental fragility from young adults who appear unable to function in the real world. A frequent response to the concerns raised by this blog and others is that we are exaggerating the problem – that it only affects universities, and that only a small subset of students at those universities subscribe to the brittle, authoritarian mindset which demands trigger warnings, safe spaces, no-platforming and campus speech codes. Well, now we see that there is no exaggeration.

The idea of grown adults as chronically weak victims or soon-to-be-victims has leaked out from the university campus like a toxic oil spill, and now infects even the parliament of a major western country. Now, Canadian MPs, elected to represent their constituents, speak of being traumatised and made to feel unsafe by witnessing a minor moment of awkward physical contact between two other people.

So can we please start taking this seriously now? At long last, can we stop deluding ourselves that this is a silly non-issue only affecting a small number of hardcore student activists, and that those involved will soon grow out of their authoritarian, victimhood-soaked ways? Because we now have definitive proof that they do not grow out of these habits. They grow into (physically) mature adults who then get themselves elected as MPs. And when their numbers reach critical mass, they will begin to enact exactly the same draconian laws and regulations for the whole country as they were accustomed to seeing on their own college campuses. All of Canada will effectively become a “safe space”, with all the attendant consequences for freedom of thought, behaviour and speech.

And that prospect is far more terrifying and traumatic than watching slow-motion footage of one person brushing past another in the Canadian parliament.


Safe Space Notice - 2

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David Cameron’s Abominable Plan To Neuter The House of Lords

House of Lords reform - chamber

Britain’s unwritten constitution is not David Cameron’s plaything, or a convenient omission to be taken advantage of by opportunistic politicians who want to sidestep proper scrutiny

What do do when the British system of democracy fails to ensure a smooth and easy ride for each and every government bill or personal initiative of the prime minister?

Why, simply change the rules of the game, and meddle with the constitution so the only answer that anyone can give is an enthusiastic “yes!”.

This is essentially what David Cameron is now proposing to do, with some of the most nakedly autocratic changes to our legislature in recent memory.

The FT reports:

David Cameron has been secretly drawing up a plan to bypass an increasingly hostile anti-Tory majority in the House of Lords, which is threatening to wreak havoc with his legislative plans.

The UK prime minister will use the recent bust-up with the Lords on tax-credit reform as a chance to neuter the powers of the upper house.

Lord Strathclyde, the Tory grandee charged by Mr Cameron with reviewing the role of peers, is set to propose this month that the Lords should lose its veto over delegated or “secondary” legislation, such as the measure implementing tax-credit cuts.

Once that veto is removed, Mr Cameron is expected to step up his government’s increasing use of delegated legislation — also known as statutory instruments — to ram contentious measures through the upper house.

A typically arrogant move, as befits our current prime minister. But the worst comes in the form of this sneering, boastful threat from an unnamed senior Tory:

“If the House of Commons insisted, that would be it,” said one senior Tory.

“The House of Lords has to tread carefully,” he added. “If they don’t accept this proposal, we could stop them having any say at all on secondary legislation. That’s a big bazooka.”

In other words, the upper chamber of our national legislature should exist only to serve as an ermine-clad rubber stamp to the will of the prime minister. Sure, Cameron is happy to let the Lords poke around and pontificate on minor legislation of no real importance, just to give the appearance of a well-functioning and accountable system. But when it comes to the big ticket items involving finance, foreign or military affairs, the House of Lords should remain about as weak and toothless as its average, septuagenarian member.

In their outrage at being thwarted on tax credits and defied with regard to the voting age in the EU referendum, the government appears to have forgotten that scrutinising hasty legislation, thinking independently of the House of Commons and checking the “elected dictatorship” of the executive is exactly what an upper legislative chamber is supposed to do. If the composition of the upper house exactly mirrored that of the lower house, and voted in exactly the same way, there would be no point to its existence. This friction and tension between the two institutions forms one of the key checks and balances in our democracy – it is not something to be casually tossed aside whenever the government of the day finds its preferred pathway blocked.

There’s a dangerous chicken and egg dynamic at play when it comes to the House of Lords. The fact that the Lords are not democratically elected effectively gives cover to authoritarian governments who want to impose their will on the country unchecked. “None of these people were elected, while we just won the last general election”, governments can say. “Therefore we should be allowed to overrule or bypass the Lords in order to do the will of the people”.

But this also creates a powerful incentive to delay attempts to make the Lords more democratic, because to do so would add legitimacy to the body and make it much harder to steamroller ill-considered legislation past reasonable scrutiny and on to the statute books. The last attempt at positive House of Lords reform stalled early on during the coalition government of 2010-2015, after the Liberal Democrat initiative was blocked by a group of recalcitrant Tory MPs, and there will certainly be no further attempt now that the Conservatives govern alone.

It is certainly hard to argue that today’s House of Lords – made up of unelected grandees, failed MPs, influential party donors and the intolerable Lords Spiritual – should have the right to delay or veto government legislation. The current system is by definition undemocratic. But shamefully, David Cameron’s answer is not to make the House of Lords a powerful and democratically legitimate upper chamber, as he should, but rather to use the current state of the Lords as a convenient argument to help his government avoid much-needed scrutiny.

As this blog has been arguing for three years now, Britain urgently needs a full constitutional convention so that the weighty questions of how we govern ourselves and where power resides can be tackled, resolved and formalised in a document.

Equality for the four home nations in terms of devolved power. A fresh look at pushing power down to the lowest possible level, preferably the individual. Empowering cities, counties and regions (building on George Osborne’s Northern Powerhouse, but going much further). More elected mayors. Term limits for politicians and ministers. A pre-determined order of prime ministerial succession, so that the leader of our country is not chosen behind closed doors in the event that the unthinkable happens. House of Lords reform. House of Commons reform. Electronic voting in parliament to save vast amounts of valuable time. Perhaps splitting the executive from the legislature, so that MPs can concentrate on their jobs without being distracted by attempts to climb the greasy pole. All of these ideas and more should be on the table, with a view to fixing ancient democratic deficits while preserving all of the best of that which makes Britain great.

But what we have at the moment is piecemeal constitutional reform on demand – not with a view to promoting democracy or ensuring a well governed country, but simply in order to solve whatever problem happens to be confronting the government of the day. This is no way for politicians to govern, and it is no way to run a modern nation state.

Unfortunately, issues of governance and constitutional reform rarely bring people out onto the streets in protest, despite being of far more long term consequence to us all than relatively trifling matters like NHS junior doctors pay, HS2 or tax credits. But all concerned citizens should fight David Cameron’s latest lazy attempt at constitutional reform on the fly with every weapon at their disposal.

First we must stop the damage already being done. But that is not enough. It is not enough to stop David Cameron’s government from inflicting further vandalism on Britain’s constitution. The time has come to take a more holistic view of these matters, instead of the myopic, short-termist approach which thinks only in terms of immediate political advantage.

Serving MPs and ministers are obviously the last people who can be expected to give fair and impartial input to these decisions, though there is obviously a wealth of experience and knowledge held by current parliamentarians which must absolutely be harnessed. So we need to go directly to the people, however much the elites may recoil at the thought.

No more piecemeal reform. Britain doesn’t need any more opportunistic constitutional tricks. There may be little appetite for it – particularly when other current issues seem to loom larger, and when any discussion about who we are as a country provokes more awkward silences than expressions of patriotism – but we need real reform, through a full constitutional convention of the United Kingdom.

The longer we wait to drag Britain’s patchwork constitutional settlement half way to meeting the people, the less democratic – and more ungovernable – our country will become.

House of Lords reform 2

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On Class Warfare And Social Engineering

Veteran Labour MP Denis MacShane had a good think, and decided that the way to fix all that ails Britain is to introduce a draconian new method of social engineering. The BBC reports:

Only people on the minimum wage should be allowed to stand for Parliament in 10% of seats to make politics more representative, a Labour MP has said.

Denis MacShane said the backgrounds of MPs from all the main parties at Westminster had become far too narrow.

The backgrounds of MPs had become far too narrow? Seriously? I agree that there is a long way to go until the membership of the House of Commons comes remotely close to mirroring the population at large (if indeed this is even a desirable goal, which is questionable), but to suggest that we are moving backwards is surely pure lunacy? Has there ever been a time (the Blair Boom of 1997 aside) when the Commons has been more representative? And yet MacShane tries to convince us that a decades-long trend is underway, filling the Commons with wealthy landowners at the expense of everyone else.

Now, the BBC’s poor journalism makes it hard to divine exactly what Denis MacShane means. The BBC headline refers to “working class shortlists”, but the article only quotes MacShane advocating the idea that 10% of Parliamentary seats be reserved for those on the minimum wage. Both ideas are dumb, but it would be helpful if the BBC quoted MacShane properly, or at least came clean about what he is actually in favour of.

If a person earns 1p/hour above the minimum wage, would this render them ineligible to run for Parliament in those constituencies with “poverty shortlists”?

How would the Electoral Authority decide which parliamentary constituencies should have the shortlist? Would you select the wealthiest areas of the country, to stick it to all the rich suburbanites in Surrey and Kent, or let the “working man” represent his “own kind” by having the shortlists in traditionally lower-income constituencies such as my hometown of Harlow, Essex?

And if Denis MacShane literally means that 10% of Commons seats should be reserved for people who fall under the nebulous definition of “working class”, how are we going to define that? People on the minimum wage? People who did not go to university? People whose parents did not attend university? People who live in council housing? Does it depend on your accent, perhaps? Would I, as someone who grew up in a single parent household reliant on government benefits, be eligible to run as a “working class” candidate, even though I now earn a good salary?

What a useless contribution to the public debate.

How often do we hear politicians bemoaning the fact that their profession is “unrepresentative”, and expressing the hope that at some point (always indeterminately in the future) less people “like them” will hold the reins of power? Well, MacShane gives it to us again today:

Mr MacShane, an Oxford university graduate who worked as a journalist before becoming MP for Rotherham in 1994, said there needed to be fewer candidates with his kind of background in the future.

Feel free to do your part by resigning now to make way for the pilot scheme.

A House Of Lords For The Modern Age

Not so fast. First we need to preserve democracy by translating the referendum question into Cornish.


I have wanted to weigh in on the topic of House of Lords reform for some time now, but have struggled to find a suitable jumping-off point from which to do so. I finally found one a few days ago, in the form of Ajay Kakkar’s op-ed piece in the Daily Telegraph entitled “Why Nick Clegg’s Senate is seriously flawed”, and now that the initial fuss about the US Supreme Court’s decision to uphold ObamaCare in the US is starting to die down a little, I finally have the chance to commit my thoughts to the blog.

In short, I am in favour of major reform of Parliament including its structure, composition and working practices, certainly incorporating democratic reform of the House of Lords. Kakkar’s piece, taken from a lecture that he delivered at Oxford some time ago, seems to me to represent a good summary of the many varied arguments against reform, so I am going to put forward my own views as a kind of point-counterpoint with his article.

Lord Kakkar (himself a crossbench Peer, from which knowledge we can perhaps already deduce his stance on this issue) begins thus:

Yesterday, a piece of legislation was laid before Parliament that has far-reaching ramifications for our country and its people – at a time when the political challenges we face are already considerable.

This is the first argument you are likely to hear against reforming the House of Lords, and it is a typical delaying tactic used whenever anyone wants to oppose or slow down any kind of change. It is the “oh, but surely we must focus exclusively on the pressing issues of X and Y, and we can worry about Lords reform in the future” argument, and we see it used against proponents of gay marriage and a multitude of other issues.

The “political challenges” that Lord Kakkar refers to here are, we can safely infer, the need to weather the current economic crisis. Personally, I do not believe that a single-minded focus on any one topic, be it from the executive or from Parliament, is very healthy. We are country of 65 million people and our government should be capable of tackling more than one initiative at a time.

Next comes an argument which is often deployed, but rarely explained – the supposed importance of ensuring the primacy of the House of Commons:

An elected second chamber is a principle that seems appealing. But we must consider two things. First, the House of Commons represents the will of the people, as expressed through democratic elections. As such, it must continue to hold primacy over the second chamber – or any other part of the machinery of government.

Really, it must? A fully or mostly elected House of Lords would also have democratic legitimacy, of a different and quite possibly beneficial kind. Elected peers would, under the government’s proposals, serve single terms of 15 years and thus would be more inclined to take the long view, and be less influenced by day-to-day political manoeuverings or machinations. Why, then, should the Commons hold primacy?

You often hear from opponents of Lords reform that the House of Lords is “complementary” to the Commons, acting in a reviewing and advisory role only, and that it need not therefore be democratic. But some other political systems – including that of the United States – actively try to build in conflict into their institutions, so that none are able to exercise unchecked power. This to me seems very sensible and worthy, and a democratically legitimate and empowered House of Lords, with a constitutional requirement that both must approve legislation before it becomes law, seems right and logical.

And then:

Second, there is the admirable clarity of our current constitutional settlement. The people elect their representatives to sit in the House of Commons, whose confidence any government must command. Those representatives can, in turn, be held to account and dismissed via the ballot box.

Within our constitution, the principle of democratic legitimacy is paramount – but there is no failing in the House of Lords, in itself, that would be resolved by a largely elected second chamber, as currently proposed. It is argued that democratically elected senators would be more accountable than appointed ones. But how would the election of 80 per cent of the chamber for a single, non-renewable term of 15 years, never facing re-election, make senators accountable to the voters who elected them?

Only a sitting parliamentarian, die-hard traditionalist or deluded person could look at Britain’s constitutional settlement and praise its “admirable clarity”. The thing isn’t even written down. There is nothing transparent, simple or clear about the division and exercise of power in Britain today, and I really wish I had been at that lecture at Oxford University to see if Lord Kakkar was able to deliver that line with a straight face.

Moreover, is Kakkar seriously trying to make the case that today’s breed of greasy pole-climbing career politicians is preferable to those who cannot run for re-election because they serve a single term? I would argue quite the opposite, that being able to take the long view, being less beholden to opinion polls or the 24-hour news cycle, could be a very good thing – at least for one of the two chambers of Parliament.

Another question that desperately needs to be answered is how this new second chamber will function in the context of its relationship to a democratically elected and constitutionally dominant Commons. The preamble to the 1911 Parliament Act states, with absolute clarity, that Parliament will have to take measures to limit and define the powers of any Upper House enjoying a popular mandate. It seems very unwise – at best – to create an elected Lords (or Senate) without setting out the precise powers of the two chambers and how disputes between them are to be resolved. If the Supreme Court is to play a role in that process, will Parliament still be secure as sovereign? Will our country need a written constitution to ensure the primacy of the Commons and protect the role of the monarchy?

This is from the Norman Tebbit “but if we allow gay marriage what courtesy title should we bestow upon the gay spouse of a Lord?” school of argument. The fact that reforming the Lords to add democratic legitimacy would entail extra work and the answering of some additional questions is hardly a reason not to proceed. Of course we need to properly define the relationship between the two chambers of Parliament as part of the reform process, that goes without saying.

Will the new UK Supreme Court be involved? I don’t know, but sure, let’s discuss that. Will we need a written consitution? Absolutely! Lord Kakkar says this as though it would be a bad thing and another legitimate reason to avoid reforming the Lords, but I have been clamouring for a consitutional convention and a written British Constitution for years, I think it would spur much-needed discussions about the role and size of government, and its relationship with the people. And again, this worry about the primacy of the Commons. Why is this essential to maintain? I do wish an opponent of Lords reform would take the next step and explain why the Commons should remain dominant in our system, rather than just stating it as though it is commonly-held and irrefutable fact.

But perhaps the proponents of an elected second chamber believe their reforms will make a qualitative difference to the kind of people who sit there. If they did, they would surely be worth considering. But what sort of senatorial candidates are likely to come forward? Will we see many social workers, historians, scientists, charity administrators, campaigners or academics? Or is it more likely that the Senate will be seen as an attractive option for those party politicians unable to secure election elsewhere?

I would rather have a democratically elected House of Lords full of conniving fools and morons than an undemocratically composed House of Lords full of people who did favours for former Prime Ministers, and a bunch of bishops from the Church of England. Just my two cents.

The role of the Lords, whatever its membership, should be to share the increasing burden of scrutinising and improving the torrent of British and European legislation that comes forward; to bring to bear experience, expertise and independence of spirit in advising and counselling the Commons; and ultimately and always to bow to its primacy.


So in short, that’s it. I’m still casting around the internet looking for an opponent of House of Lords reform who can actually take the next step and answer some of these questions. Why must the Commons retain primacy? Why would a written Consitution, even a limited one that just defines the relationship between the chambers of Parliament, the devolved assemblies and the Supreme Court be such a bad idea? Why are single terms of a long timespan worse than neverending terms of five year intervals?

As yet I have seen no compelling answers to these questions from those who want to preserve the status quo, and so on this issue I am squarely behind Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats.