Friday 18 December 2020
Thursday 10 December 2020
typifies the pityful state of our democracy than the numbers now associated
with the HofL.
In the HofL Act of 1999 the bulk of the hereditary peers were removed and a cap of 600 set for its members.
However the current total is 794, of whom 665 are life peers which makes 84% appointees of Prime Ministers.
This is not DEMOCRACY but a CHUMOCRACY!
The size of the Lords has varied greatly throughout history with initially around 168 English peers which increased to 184 with the addition in 1707 of 16 Scottish peers. Then in 1801 28 Irish peers were added bringing the total to 212.
After the Life Peerage Act of 1958 and the Peerage Act of 1963, allowing women into the Lords, the numbers grew to an alarming 1,330 in October 1999 albeit a fair number never attended. The Lords reform of that year reduced the numbers to 669 but since then they have steadily risen to around 800.
In 2011 a cross party committee called on David Cameron to stop appointing new peers as he had created 117 since becoming PM in 2010 which was a faster rate than any previous period in history. Ironically the huge expansion of the Lords occurred while Cameron unsuccessfully tried to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600! Well I suppose as an epitath that about sums Cameron up.
At its current total, just short of 800, the chamber is the second largest legislative body after China's National Peoples Congress and dwarfs the upper houses of other democracies such as - USA Senate 100, France 348, Australia 76, Canada 105, India 250 and is even larger than The Supreme People's Assembly of N.Korea with its 687 members.
The serious review of the Lords in 2017 recommended a maximum of 600 members (even thought the seating capacity is a maximum of 400), a fifteen year term limit for new peers and a two-out one-in limit on new appointments. This report to their credit was largely approved by the Lords.
The current total of 794 is of course well above the 600 cap and above the total of 669 in 2000.
Our current leaders manipulate democracy for their own ends ensuring thier MPs are in the main compliant 'nodding donkeys' and filling the second chamber with their cronies who have so often achieved little of worth as MPs or in other walks of life.
In our third demand 'A Separation of Power' we suggest a HofL of 100 and HofC of 300. On reflection I feel 300 and 500 would be nearer the mark. As to the 300 in the Lords I'm currently minded that a fixed term is essential with a third elected, a third appointed and the last third selected by a system of sortition. Sortition, as practised in ancient Rome, sees the selection by lottery from people who have put themselves up to do the job and a serious job of work it is rather than one senses now that it is just a glorified private members club for political has beens.
There are many aspects of our democracy that need urgent reform but a reform of the Hof L, starting with cutting it down in size, is pretty high on the list.
Thursday 3 December 2020
The answer to the question in my title is you can't apart from at a General Election. Then the electorate are usually more focused on voting for a party than the actual candidate who, however inadequate, ends up living to fight another day.
Between elections there is nothing you can do even if what he says he will do he contradicts with his actions. The simplest reason as to why what politicians say and do diverge is I believe because in the end they put party loyalty above their own principles and beliefs which are in any event usually pretty flexible! I would also point out that in supporting their party they may well be disregarding the views of the majority in their constituency.
Recently the Tory MP Bob Stewart was interviewed on Talk Radio about the PM's new Tier System and said he had no choice but to support his PM. He however admitted that in his constiuency there were those who supported the measures and those who didn't. What of course he will never know is what the majority felt.
In our second demand 'Real Local Government' we suggest it should be up to each constituency whether they wanted a system of recall and if one now existed in Bob Stewart's constituency then if enough people wanted to they could raise a vote of no confidence in him. Then there would be no question as to whether his support for his party was also accepted by his constituents.
A system of MP recall is 'Real Local Democracy' and, I cannot help feeling like so many Tory MPs, the 'gutless' Bob Stewart might just find that it helped stiffen his backbone to put his constituents first.