Sod tactics, Labour. Vote with your principles

June 26, 2012 2:52 pm

I’ve always been an idealist. Or a “naive idealist” as tradition dictates my kind must be referred. I’ve always believed that there are ideals to be aimed for and nice thick lines which must never be crossed.

And yet in the cruel and all too human world of twenty first century politics we all too often succumb to political point scoring over principle. Everyone in politics is guilty of it. Getting one over on the opposition. The day to day struggle to hobble and embarrass your enemy.

Tactics.

Labour has been presented with an almighty opportunity to hobble the coalition this week. Today the cabinet met and agreed to push ahead with plans for Lords reform. Seemingly there were no speeches against. No dissent. There is surely cabinet disagreement over Lords reform, but not of them were brave enough, or principle enough, to stick their head above the parapet and argue in favour of unregulated and undemocratic scrutiny of our laws by an ermine-clad elite.

And yet a revolt still seems likely from the Tory backbenches. Tory MP Penny Morduant – in possession of a backbone, albeit one she uses to trash democracy with – has said today:

“These reforms are gong to lead to a constitutional crisis.”

No doubt the infamous 22 committee will make their views known in due course.

So Labour can vote with the rebels to embarrass the government. That would be a mistake. We must resist the temptation, stick with our democratic principles, and make the change that is right for Britain.

An unelected house made up of the appointed, the hereditary and the bishops is grotesque in a modern democracy. That Labour failed to complete the job of obliterating the last vestiges of priviledge and patronage from parliament when we had whopping huge majorities is an aspect of our time in government of which we should be completely ashamed.

An elected House of Lords is an ideal that is attainable, and helping in any way to stop it coming into being is a big thick line that should never, ever be crossed.

This time, tactics can’t trump principle.

Furthermore, defeating the government – especially to stop something the Labour Party agrees with – is not only perverse, but isn’t necessary to hobble the Prime Minister. If anything, winning a vote with Lib Dem and Labour support could hurt the Prime Minister even more than losing. Blair’s Iraq War “victory” – secured with Tory votes – was nonetheless a damaging (career shortening) revolt. The Tory right are so viscerally opposed to democratic reform that they will curse the name of their leader for the rest of the parliament if he sides with their opponents to drive through a change they despise.

What Ed Miliband proposes is that Labour will both vote yes and no. Labour MPs will vote for the Second Reading of the Bill but oppose the proposed timetabled – providing an opportunity for Tory rebels to back Labour and sink the bill. A whips trick. Too clever by half. Like on welfare reform Labour will try and have their cake and deny the cake’s existence.

We should relish this debate, because we’re in the right. Make the Tories argue in favour of priviledge, and against democracy. We will argue for democracy. For our principles. And for a reformist ideal that has been a part of what Labour has been about about since the earliest days of our party.

Ed Miliband says “democratic election is the best system for our country”. If so, then support it. No ifs. No buts. No tricks. No tactics.

Just principle.

  • http://twitter.com/LouMcCudden Louise McCudden

    Great post!

  • http://twitter.com/CJWallace91 Chris Wallace

    Agreed 100%. It’s always tempting to get one over on the other side, but this is a matter of principle that you can’t just go back on.

    • treborc

       I suspect a large number of MP’s and Ministers will be looking at the house of lords to get a bit extra on retirement after all one will find it hard on only £45,000 pension. It will be difficult to get the changes people would like

      • JC

        I suspect that this will be the case. Rather than appoint a set of cronies, the party leaders will have them on the party lists. This is the death of crossbenchers and independent members of the HoL.

        • Vicky Seddon

           I am not convinced about that.

          The 15 year terms will give senators a lot of room for manoevre.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/QDMFX65KM5STSAFHAC4FOLFTO4 fran

    I can’t believe that now on this constitutional matter Mark seems to think that Labour should take the principled moral high ground. Do you not see the irony that when Labour had the chance to press for real democratic ideals like voting reform last year they sandbagged it ? Apart from a brave and principled few like Ed M and Alan Johnson – most in the Labour party establishment either obfuscated or took up arms with the anti-democratic Conservatives – even in the case of  John Reid and Tom Harris – to the extent of sharing platforms with their so-called ideological opponents. Now, exactly the same gerrymandering of democracy is being pursued by the Labour party in relation to the independence referendum in Scotland where once again Labour are sharing a platform with those “viscious right wing ” idealogues to frustrate the democratic aspirations of the majority of Scots who want the option of devo-max on the ballot paper. Again this one is all about tactics – to damage the SNP – who are the closest party to Labour on the Scottish political spectrum therefore the most serious rivals. So Labour’s track record in the pursuit of democratic ideals is laughable unless it accidentally coincides with party self-interest in which case the cloak of democracy can be hastily donned to disguise political fixing and chicanery.   

    • http://www.labourlist.org/mark_ferguson Mark Ferguson

      Fran – that’s because plenty of people in the Labour Party either didn’t believe AV was more democratic (like me), or are small c constitutional conservatives. Lords reform is – or should be – an article of faith for the Labour Party. AV…not so much.

    • Chilbaldi

       Oh come off it. The devo-max option is a tad more nuanced than that. You know full well how skewed and unfairly split the referendum would be if it contained those three options rather than the simple two.

      • robertcp

        I agree.  We need to get the independence rubbish out of the way and then we can have a sensible discussion about devolution in the UK.  Of course, this can include devo-max.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/QDMFX65KM5STSAFHAC4FOLFTO4 fran

         I know it’s what the majority of Scottish voters want but its an aspiration that dare not speak it’s name in the Better Together campaign. We have a party that talks about giving people a voice, of engaging with communities  but it can’t help itself with the ‘fixing’ problem.

  • Ian Gilbert

    I thought from the headline this might be about our somewhat timid
    opposition to welfare reform, which I would have had more sympathy with.

    The first job of the opposition is to oppose and I see nothing at all
    wrong with Ed Miliband demanding more time to debate what would be the
    biggest constitutional change for many years.

    As Ed pointed out, abolishing hereditary peers took nine whole days of
    commons scrutiny and this is a much more complex piece of legislation.
    Personally I’m in favour of the House of Lords being more democratic but
    I can’t stand the regional list system. Does this make me an enemy of
    democracy?

    • Vicky Seddon

       The reality is that if we want change in the face of the massive opposition that the Tories and Lords will mount, we will have to be very hard nosed. We won’t get everything we want. 80% elected  is better than 100% appointed or inherited.

      Yes, there will be other infelicities. But Labour didn’t complete the reform Blair started and will have to compromise if we are to make  any progress.

      Sometimes we have to get that clothes peg out. Otherwise, Labour risks being seen as supporting the status quo 

  • jonathanmorse

    An elected Lords would be disasterous for the UK, no wonder Labour is supporting it. Either it would have no power, in which case who would join it (All those people Blair appointed to the Lords were either nobodies, didn’t care or not really Labour, those that wanted something held out for a safe seat in the Commons), or it would have power in which case it would use it to increase it’s power and obstruct the Commons. Each time something doesn’t go their way they’ll remember their afront and bring it up when it can cause most damage. Afterall, that’s how the Parliament got its power over the King originally. Look at the chaos that is the US System of government.

    There are things called Private Bills, not Private Members Bills nor Public Bills. I say let the Lords process the Private Bills, with a veto in the Commons, let them meet up at the State Opening and otherwise make them irrelevant – all Public Bills to go through the one House only. Or Scrap the whole thing. Scotland’s Parliament works fine with one House and they’re talking about scrapping the Senate in Ireland.

    • Lembit Opik’s Lovechild

       We desperately need a revising chamber. The Bribary act is a perfect example of what goes wrong when legislation isn’t reviewed properly. a 4 page bill, with 400 pages of explaination, put through on the nod as part of the washing up at the end of the last parliament. Complete Joke. Written by a 26 yr old law graduate who knew stuff all.

      The Lords needs to be a revisory chamber and there is no reason why that cannot be made op of the great and the good, who do not need to be elected. Elections to the Lords will bring no benefits and will introduce huge problems.Voted in on party lines, whipped to an inch of their lives the new inhabitants will be party hacks  who owe their position to their party. It’s a recipe for partisanship and even greater infighting. It will be a total cock up. The Lords doesn’t need democratic legitimacy. One house with that is more than enough for anyone surely?

    • Vicky Seddon

       So it is OK to have law-makers who are not elected?

      As Mark says, some things are  principles.

      • Philosophical

        They shouldn’t be law-makers!

        And, anyone who thinks a 15 year term of office is ‘democratic’ needs their head examining.

        • Vicky Seddon

           No need to be offensive!

          An elected chamber with 15 year term is better that a chamber that is appointed for life.

  • Thomas Williams

    Slightly ironic that you’re arguing that, to support democratic election of legislators, we should several curtail the amount of time the existing democratically elected legislators get to do their jobs of scrutinising legislation. I’m fully in favour of Lords reform, but it’s an incredibly complicated thing to do right, and the outcome is likely to be in place for decades. Let them have enough time to debate it properly.

    • Vicky Seddon

       Unfortunately, this plays into the hands of those who want to scupper the bill.

      The reality is that in order to get it past, we have to be pretty hard-nosed, otherwise it could be another 100 years…..

  • Winston_from_the_Ministry

    I really don’t see there’s that much of a difference to be honest, either way, the Lords will end up getting picked by the same people.

  • Steve Ranger

    Couldn’t agree more.  It’s about time we started making the case for some core Labour values rather than appearing to go along with Tory policies by arguing about details rather than substance.

  • http://twitter.com/RF_McCarthy Roger McCarthy

    The House of Lords is just a minor symptom of the UK’s constitutional malaise.

    Like the AV referendum the coalition’s proposals will just create the illusion that something is being done while ignoring the much more fundamental problems of our relationships to Europe and between the constituent nations of the UK.

    Above all what is needed are truly radical proposals for a restructuring of the EU and for English and Federal UK Parliaments.

    So killing this bill is not just good tactics it is sound strategy (or would be if Labour’s front bench were thinking strategically….) – the HoL reformed or not can have no significant role to play in the new constitutional settlement that this country desperately needs.

    Plus it’s collapse weakens yet another tie binding the elements of the coalition together.
      

    • Vicky Seddon

       So it is OK to ignore the manifesto on which Labour laid out what it would be calling for?? 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stephen-Collins/100000033820132 Stephen Collins

    How about House of Commons reform instead?

    • Vicky Seddon

       How about House of Commons reform as well? 

  • George Pender

    If you are so keen on democratic principles why didn’t your party give the british people a referendum the first time you decided to “reform” the Lords?

    • AlanGiles

      It is for Mark to speak for himself George, but in his defence he does take a very principled stand to issues and he was writing this article in a personal capacity – he can hardly be held responsible for what the party itself decided some years ago.

    • robertcp

      A referendum was not needed then and it is not needed now.  Parties do not need referendums to implement manifesto commitments.

      • jaime taurosangastre candelas

        What about a manifesto commitment that is a promise for a referendum?  Such as that in 2005 for a vote on Europe?  What happens if you don’t keep that commitment?

        If you combine that failure to keep your word with “selecting” unopposed a lunatic as Leader (who the rest of the country could see was dangerous), the Party does not get back into power.  In addition to never being trusted on the economy, the Party is never trusted again on Europe.

        One wonders how many more things Labour is willing to not be ever trusted upon and still to pretend to be a serious party. All of these things build up and gain a folklore.

        • robertcp

          Of course, parties should implement promises to have a referendum.  I was very annoyed that Labour did not hold the referendum on PR that it promised in 1997. 

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Homfray/510980099 Mike Homfray

          Thankfully, not everyone feels like you – and to think that you used to express mild support for Labour!

      • postageincluded

        Parties don’t “need” referendums to implement any policy, in the manifesto or not (and these proposals weren’t in anyone’s manifesto, they’re a backroom fix). But fair enough, there’s no obligation to hold a referendum.

        The real question is, as our constitution evolves, when and why should referenda be used? Changes to the constitution would seem to me to be one of the areas where Parliament might reasonably be expected to defer to the “Sovereignty of the People” so Labour is right to propose a referendum, and should always follow the same principle with regard to constitutional changes – even their own.

        • Vicky Seddon

           Another approach to the issue of whether or not to all for a referendum could be to see if there is a demand from the electorate for one – say if 5% of voters ask for one.  As in the option to call for a referendum on elected mayors courtesy of last government.

          Advantage is that this then becomes a bottom up approach, unlike the recent referendums – Av and city mayors.

          We know that opponents of Lords Reform will call for a referendum, but  can they persuade 5% of voters to call for one?

          We should adopt same approach to all referendums

          • postageincluded

            I can’t help but think that idea has a whole load of unintended and unfortunate
            consequences – rule by well-heeled demagogues  being the most likely.

            For me, it’s a question of “who guards the guardian”. If you don’t like
            the government’s record on everyday issues you can vote against them at
            the next election. But a change to the constitution could deprive you of
            that privilege. That’s why most codified constitutions demand referenda
            (or impose other restrictions on the government) in such cases.

            The doctrine of “the Sovereignty of Parliament” is usually rolled out against imposing such restrictions here. In constitutional matters I think that doctrine should be contested – and is being contested every time a referendum is held.

        • Robertcp

          We agree that there is no obligation to have a referendum. My main argument against having a referendum on an elected House of Lords is that it would be an absolute bore and a waste of time. 

          If people want an elected House of Lords, they should just get on with it.  To be honest, I can live with a House of Lords that is appointed in proportion to votes at the last General Election, which I think is what happens now. 

          • postageincluded

            It would be a waste of time if Government and Opposition backed the plan wholeheartedly. I don’t think that’s going to happen. “Boring” is as “boring” does.

            Proportional appointment would get my vote in a referendum (though I’d prefer a separate party list for the Lords at the GE), but that isn’t really what happens now – or at least I can’t ever remember seeing “The Aristocrat Party” or “Episcopate” on any ballot paper.

  • JoeDM

    Also, for such a big constitutional change there should be a referendum.
     

    • robertcp

      The three big parties had an elected House of Lords in their manifestos, so there is no need for a referendum.

      • http://twitter.com/thomaswilliams Thomas Williams

        Eh, I actually think that weakens the case for not needing a referendum, rather than strengthening it. If just one party has a policy in their manifesto, and they win, you can argue they have a mandate for that policy. True, it may not have been the reason many voters voted for them, but it’s a good rule of thumb to make our system workable. But if all the major parties share a particular policy, it’s hard to say that the public have voted for that policy. They haven’t been given any real option to vote for or against it.  

        • Robertcp

          It is a bit of a strange argument to say that we should have a referendum on a subject because all parties have the same opinion.  MPs that felt so strongly against having an elected House of Lords should have made this clear to their constituents.

          However, the legislation will probably not get through Parliament, so an elected House of Lords will still be an issue in 2015 if anybody cares!

    • Vicky Seddon

       As I have posted elsewhere: another approach to the issue of whether or not to all for a
      referendum could be to see if there is a demand from the electorate for
      one – say if 5% of voters ask for one.  As in the option to call for a
      referendum on elected mayors courtesy of last government.

      Advantage is that this then becomes a bottom up approach, unlike the recent referendums – Av and city mayors.

      We know that opponents of Lords Reform will call for a referendum, but  can they persuade 5% of voters to call for one?

      We should adopt same approach to all referendum

  • Pingback: Politics live blog: Tuesday 26 June | Politics News and Discussion()

  • postageincluded

    I really fail to see, Mark,  why opposing a guillotine on this bill is  “unprincipled”. This not the bill that Labour would have introduced if we’d won in 2010, so to say that “it was in the manifesto”  is just blather. 

    As far as I can see the bill isn’t really even a serious attempt at constitutional reform, mere window dressing for the LibDems 2015 campaign. Unfortunately, if it becomes law it’s massive faults will be very hard to change. Nevertheless it gets rid of the heredetary peers, which Labour believes is a good thing. Such being the case it is entirely reasonable and principled to seek to scrutinise and amend the Bill as far as is possible but not to finally oppose it. What’s your grouse with this?

    • Vicky Seddon

       Because it plays into the hands of those who don’t want this change at any cost.

      It will be this bill or nothing.

       

      • postageincluded

         In other words you are saying “vote tactically and sod principle”.

        It is a perfectly respectable position that I don’t agree with in this case.  At least you’re honest about it, unlike Mr Ferguson.

        • Vicky Seddon

           Yes and no! Yes to voting tactically to gain an advantage.  A significant one in having a mainly elected house. And no because I don’t think this is abandoning principles.

          Politics is the art of the possible, and if wait until we get a perfect bill, we will be waiting another hundred years.

  • Vicky Seddon

    Mark, I agreed and am horrified at the prospect, as Angela Eagle proposed yesterday at the ERS Conference, that Labour would oppose the bill on the basis that 15 years is too long and that  there would need to be a referendum – scuppering tactics IMHO.

    The principle of having an elected second chamber (and 100% elected in my book) is so important that compromise around these demands is justified

  • AlanGiles

    Anybody who remembers the “taxi for hire” Stephen Byers, when he was in charge at the DTI, will reecall that he could meet with half a dozen or a dozen different people, of all sorts and conditions at a meeting and everyone seemed to have been at an entirely different meeting  since Mr Byers recollections of what was said and done were always in a minority of one – the other 5, 6, 11 or 12 had all heard something different.

    This made Byers look, at best, bumbling and at worst, shady.

    On June 10th Stephen Twigg appared on BBC TV and said two entirely contradictory things about education policy. Liam Byrne follows this up on LL by apparently disagreeing with his former committment to Freud. Now Ed Miliband is at the “yes and no” game.

    This might seem clever to those taking part in these ridiculous charades, but it must appear to ordinary non-political voters that we are either indecisive, non-committal, or just downright devious.

    If you believe in something, say so, and act on it. These mixed messages are making the party look like a totally incompetent irrelevance.

  • https://mikestallard.virtualgallery.com/ Mike Stallard

    “This time, tactics can’t trump principle.”

    Remember Mr Blair and Lord Levy? So let us get off the High Ground shall we? Or the expenses scandal? Or the Statutory Instruments where Directives are passed straight from Berlaymont through to the citizens of Europe living in UK ?

    Now, before the ad hominem, please could you answer this question: “When the elected Senators and the elected MPs disagree, who wins?”

    Of course, that could never happen.

  • Daniel Speight

    Could one of the Westminster bag-carriers explain why voting against the government’s timetable scuppers the bill? An honest question because I certainly don’t know the answer.

  • http://twitter.com/robertsjonathan Jonathan Roberts

    Personally I think adding another layer to democracy (town council, district, county, MPs, Police Commissioners, Mayors,  MEPs are all elected) won’t have the transformative effect some people expect.

    I’m not convinced people want more politicians, I suspect they’d rather have fewer.

    I’ve always liked the idea that the Lords should be a place for world-leading experts to provide expert scrutiny to Government legislation.  For me, bring the number down to around 250 working members, all of whom have considerable expertise in specific and important policy areas.  It shouldn’t be a home for retired MPs, but a breeding ground for real policy heavyweights. 

    • http://twitter.com/mistyblulabour dave stone

      “the Lords should be a place for world-leading experts ”

      But “world-leading experts” are well known for disagreeing among themselves. So which way to go when we have a choice between two opposing bodies of expert opinion? This is where democracy and politics come in – if we don’t get the chance to select our “experts” then the there’ll be behind-the-scenes stitch-ups most likely weighted by research programmes funded by corporate interests.

      • http://twitter.com/robertsjonathan Jonathan Roberts

        “behind-the-scenes stitch-ups most likely weighted by research programmes funded by corporate interests.”

        It’s all one big conspiracy to keep the proleteriat down!

        • http://twitter.com/mistyblulabour dave stone

          I said no such thing, and you do yourself a disservice by implying that I did.

          Anyone with experience of academia, and interested others, will have knowledge of how research grants and opportunities for career progression can lead to undue emphases in particular aspects of research outcomes.

          • http://twitter.com/robertsjonathan Jonathan Roberts

            I wasn’t really focussing on academia Dave – ‘I said no such thing’ in fact.  Academics might have a lot of theoretical knowledge but little practical expertise.

            Doctors, headteachers, military veterans, business people, industry and trade union leaders  etc etc could all have a place.  I would say they are very well placed to provide appropriate scrutiny of Government legislation that is much more meaningful than a second house of politicians.

          • treborc

             Lord Freud to lead it then.

    • Vicky Seddon

       It is not adding a layer of democracy, it is about transforming one of the layers we have which is currently not at all democratic.

  • david

    Can we get rid of the assumption that sticking by principle would mean supporting the Bill? The Bill would damage democracy by creating a second chamber which would either be in deadlock with the House of Commons or useless, and which would be inadequate to perform the function of expertly scrutinising legislation independently of government. It is  not the case that in a democracy, everyone “in charge” should be directly elected. We do not elect Judges; we do not elect Doctors. 

    • Vicky Seddon

       But we should elect our law-makers.

      I am amazed at how many contributors to this discussion simply have not got their heads around this one.

      • david

        The Judges are law-makers. In a common law system and with a system of binding judicial precedent, what they decide has a very significant impact on what the law is.

        If your point is that legislators should be directly accountable to the people then I don’t think that is violated by having an upper house which isn’t, because in each case their decisions have to be validated by a lower house which is.

  • http://twitter.com/all_thats_left_ All Thats Left

    I agree with Mark, up to a fashion – although Labour should resist playing party politics with Lords reform – there is also a duty to ensure that Parliament gets it right and creates an Upper Chamber that can properly connect with the people and provide a dynamic and positive element to our democracy and political culture. 
    My fear is that by electing the senates by way of Party Lists, we will simply create an upper house where former MPs and Party Apparatchiks are rewarded with a nice cushy number in return for further compliance. 
    That would be a mistake. 
    By all means reform – but make sure you do it right. 

    I expand on this: http://www.allthatsleft.co.uk/2012/06/lords-reform-please-no-party-lists/

    • Vicky Seddon

       Pity that Labour didn’t “get it right” when in power and could have completed ther reform Blaire started.

      Now someone else is in the driving seat and we have to compromise.

      If we want to await the perfect solution – and everyone seems to
      have their own pet version – then we will never make progress.

      I think that we often forget that politics is the art of the possible.

  • Guest

    We’re about to give up one of the worlds most effective scrutinising chambers in order to increase the number of hacks. I see no issue of principle here.

    • Vicky Seddon

       Effective ? When it passed the Health and Social Care Bill?

      There are a lot of myths around about Lords being knowledgable (for many of the experts, their knowledge is out of date), challenging (they don’t actually change that much; yers, one or two notable issues but not very many overall) and honest (but there have been major scandals re lobbying and expenses.

      A lot of the myths are put around by the Lords themselves.

      Every time they are asked to comment, I want them to be asked whether they have a vested interest in the status quo.  Journalists I have heard so far have been far too timid.

  • Leon

    I stopped reading after you showed you could not spell ‘privilege ‘. You’re against it, but you can’t even spell it. Smart. A ‘priviledged’, Cambridge education and you still cannot spell. New editor please. Preferably one in touch with ordinary people but who can still spell.

  • Charlie_Mansell

    Totally agree with your posting. The proposals are a major advance. Lord’s reform will not stop if they are adopted – no doubt the debate over the last 20% can carry on. However it has taken a century to whittle down the hereditaries to  92, so a shift up to 80% elected is a major improvement and in line with the principle that Ed Milliband set out. 

    Unlike the EU where we started with a referendum and that is now seen as custom and practice by all parties on that issue there has not been a referendum before on this issue and constitutional practice over the last 40 or so years is very clear that big decisions should either be a manifesto commitment OR a referendum. In this case there is already a strong constitutional manifesto commitment of ALL THREE PARTIES elected with 91% of the vote in 2010 that should be dealt with relatively quickly along the lines of the current proposal, so the focus remains on tackling the economy. 

    After all most democracies with bicameralism seem to do this reasonably well and its hardly as if we are in the 18th or 19th century experimenting with a new democratic process! Then if people want to argue for restoring hereditaries or more un-elected people (it will interesting to see how many still argue for that) or want to go for 100% elected, we can of course continue to have that debate.

  • Keith Skewes

    With Liam Byrne in the shadow cabinet Labour I have to ask: What principles?

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Homfray/510980099 Mike Homfray

      We can only hope not for much longer!

  • mactheanti

    Personally I could not give a damn about the Lords at the moment, I am more interested in the fact that we have a “morally repugnant” over privileged prime minister who has never wanted for a thing in his over privileged life and who the Queen helped to get his first job, lording it over the disabled, the under privileged, the struggling families, struggling singles and is threatening to remove benefits from 25s and under and who know thinks he can dictate to people about how many children they can have. I suspect none at all if Cameron got his way. Sod the Lords concentrate on something that actually means promethium to someone.

    • Dave Postles

       Yes – priorities, please.

      • Vicky Seddon

         So democracy is not a priority? 

    • Vicky Seddon

       So ensuring the process of law-making is democratic is of no value?

      It should have been done in the last parliament, finishing the work Blair started by removing most of hereditaries.

      Labour should be committed to improving our democracy.  If we had had an  elected upper chamber, we might have been able to scupper the Health and Social Care Bill.

      We do need a pro-active second chamber

  • Billsilver

    This isn’t democracy, it’s a way of providing sinecures for self-regarding party list cronies.
    What’s there now is infinitely better – even though some are there due to birth, there are others, many distinguished in their own fields of expertise,  bringing talent and knowledge to the debates and making up for what the party retirees and hacks fail to provide.
    Ed Miliband’s principles apart – and, yes, I’m still waiting for any proclamation he might usefully issue – we can all agree that apart from not satisfying the deranged Republic members (all 6,000 of them) this proposal will bring nothing but a permanent coterie of LibDem creeps and snivellers to permanent position in the ‘Lords’ so that they can feel important.
    Just imagine, Norman Baker never far from a TV screen near you, Brian Paddick whose heroic failures are a continuing source of mystification to dummy-worshippers everywhere, and gawd! Far too many to mention here.
    If Labour had any guts it would vote to abolish the House of Lords completely so that democracy, even our own imperfect version, could at least pose as the government system we actually decided on after  Cromwell started the ball rolling.

  • James

    Principles?

    What a quaint idea.

  • ThePurpleBooker

    Err, no because firstly in our manifesto it calls for a referendum and secondly this is a major constitutional issue and thirdly, we should have a little bit of fun too.

    • AlanGiles


      we should have a little bit of fun too”

      What do you mean by “fun” in this context?

  • David Brede

    My mouse mat is the 1919 poster! Vote the heredities out!

  • Pingback: Lords reform, Labour and the three key tests | Mark Pack()

  • Pingback: Lords reform, Labour and the three key tests()

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Homfray/510980099 Mike Homfray

    I think the problem is that there is no consensus within Labour as to what form the reviews should take

    For example, I don’t really support a second chamber at all. I’d like strong and enduring regional government to complete the devolutionary process, which would give MP’s far less to do so the scrutiny role could be done as part of the work of the Commons.

    I’m certainly very unconvinced for the need for a large scale elected chamber with the retention of bishops

  • John Dore

    Cameron is failing because the if fixated with government based on popularity, very shallow.

    It is usual for an opposition to say nothing till the election. I don’t think that’s the right thing to do. If the government steal your ideas it shows them to be the followers that they are. 

    Ed has little experience and he must overcome that perception between now and the election. He must lead the ideas agenda and at the moment there is precious little.

    Define the issues and be more specific on what should be done. The comments on Immigration and Europe are step in the right direction. One of the biggest issues that we will face is the welfare  bill we pay and that will be the next thing to be floated. Cruddas will make that happen.  The Tories have cemented the spiralling costs in the minds of the electorate. If we have no answer we will not be trusted to have a strategy. The usual will be up in arms.

    Sorry ideology is for oppositions and non strategic thinkers who can address the issues of the day. Ed is not an ideologist and isn’t getting the credit he deserves. He is playing a very subtle game.

  • Pingback: A Change of Programme « The Daily Soapbox()

  • Pingback: Politics live blog: Tuesday 26 June - Instant Approval Loans()

  • Pingback: Politics live blog: Tuesday 26 June - Personnel Loan()

  • Pingback: Politics live blog: Tuesday 26 June - Private Student Loan Help()

  • Pingback: Politics live blog: Tuesday 26 June - Private Student Loans Help()

  • Pingback: Politics live blog: Tuesday 26 June - Help Loan Application()

  • Pingback: Politics live blog: Tuesday 26 June - Current Student Loan Interest Rate()

  • Pingback: Politics live blog: Tuesday 26 June - Student Loan Current Interest Rate()

  • Pingback: Politics live blog: Tuesday 26 June - Current Interest Rate For Student Loans()

  • Pingback: Politics live blog: Tuesday 26 June - Low Interest Student Loans()

  • Pingback: Politics live blog: Tuesday 26 June - Low Interest Loans For Students()

  • Pingback: Politics live blog: Tuesday 26 June - Current Student Loan Rate()

  • Pingback: Politics live blog: Tuesday 26 June - Average Student Loan Amount()

Latest

  • Europe News Video Alan Johnson explains why he supports the EU

    Alan Johnson explains why he supports the EU

    While much of the political narrative around the European Union recently has been about restricting rights on EU migrants, former Home Secretary Alan Johnson has come out to talk about why he is favour of it. In a minute-long video for the pro-EU think tank British Influence, Johnson explains that he is “part romantic, part pragmatist about Europe”. He is attracted to the idea on a romantic level because of its conception as a forum to promote diplomacy rather than […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Time to pay school support staff their due

    Time to pay school support staff their due

    The debate about schools, pupil attainment and changes to our education system rages on. Yet there is one group of workers who are rarely discussed or heard in the debate, despite playing a fundamental role in almost every aspect of school life – school support staff. UNISON has almost been a lone voice in championing this overlooked group. School support staff help children learn, keep them safe and healthy and ensure schools run smoothly. They help provide the holistic attention […]

    Read more →
  • Europe News Cooper says Cameron’s migration target is “in tatters” – and Tory backbenchers agree

    Cooper says Cameron’s migration target is “in tatters” – and Tory backbenchers agree

    Yvette Cooper has slammed David Cameron’s major speech on EU immigration, saying that he has spent weeks of “posturing, pandering and making more promises he can’t keep” in order to placate his backbenchers, rather than coming up with practical solutions. Cameron said that he wanted to extend the period that EU migrants would have to wait before claiming benefits from three months to four years – double the two years Labour announced last week. But Shadow Home Secretary Cooper said […]

    Read more →
  • Featured Scotland Labour will implement Smith Commission proposals in first Queen’s Speech, pledges Miliband

    Labour will implement Smith Commission proposals in first Queen’s Speech, pledges Miliband

    Ed Miliband today said that the vow he made to radically devolve powers to Holyrood during the referendum campaign had been ‘signed, sealed and delivered’ by the publication of the Smith Commission’s report yesterday. He told an audience in Glasgow this morning that Labour would fully implement the proposals set out by the report in the first Queen’s Speech if elected next year. You can read Mark Ferguson’s take on the Smith Commission’s report here. Miliband said: “A vow was […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Diane Abbott expected to announce she will run to be London Mayor

    Diane Abbott expected to announce she will run to be London Mayor

    It’s rumoured that tomorrow at London Labour party conference Diane Abbott, the MP for Hackney and Stoke Newington, will announce that she will run to be Labour’s candidate for Mayor of London. Abbott  was Shadow Minister for Public Health until last year and has been the Labour MP for the north east London constituency for twenty seven years – where she doubled her majority in 2010. Prior to becoming an MP she was elected to Westminster City Council in 1982. […]

    Read more →