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Saturday, July 07, 2012


as an armchair socialist i should be in favour of getting rid of the house of lords, well the unelected aspect of it. i am not.
nor am i in favour of reducing the number of members of parliament - though not for the reason that it is a tory ploy to make sure they gain more seats.

the boundary changes have come about partly because of the expenses scandal - the argument goes that parliament must be leaner meaner and more efficient. naturally the easiest way of doing this is by cutting the number of parliamentarians. the method of doing this is to 'even' out the sizes of constituencies so that each mp gets to represent the same(ish) number of people.

parliament is about representation (which is part of the argument for house of lords reform), so it strikes me as odd that the way to foster better representation they are cutting the number of members of parliament.
i would argue that they need to create more seats - and have our politicians represent smaller constituencies, so that they really have to work to keep people happy. smaller constituencies means that people can see that their votes count and that they can vote for a smaller party and make a difference that way. oh hold on there is the flaw in my plan - it might mean other parties getting into parliament.
can't have that.
instead let's cut the number of seats (increase the chances of the conservatives always getting in) and let's reduce the number of people who are prepared to vote.
seems to be a winning plan to me.

on the house of lords i have yet to be convinced that change is a good thing or a needed thing.
more often than not the lords seem to be the people who are prepared to hold up government legislation to scrutiny.
so what if some of the people there are there just because of who they are (and who they paid party contributions to), because of this we know that the house of lords is the lesser of the two houses.

the notion of electing long term senators calls into question the primacy of the house of commons - which vote is more important? on the face of it giving the vote to someone who gets to stay in power for 15 years seems to be more important than someone who only gets 5 years in the job.
as constituents who do we take our issues to?
the 'senators' are only going to be getting a daily allowance and not a salary, and from that they will have to fund a constituency office. which means either there won't be a constituency office or the people who run for election to the second house will be independently wealthy to start with.
the system will be promoting the primacy of the house of commons - which also brings into question the quality of the people who are going to run for the second house. sure they will get a long period of office but they won't be able to make any real changes because they don't have the power. will that mean that it will just be people who are interested in the glory and the pomp? will it be those who don't want to actually deal with the hard cut and thrust of daily politics but just want to be in sniffing distance of power? will it be a place to shunt those nice chaps who have done some good work for the party but are just not good enough to win enough votes to get into the house of commons?
not to mention the other big problem - confusion in the electorate. we have a declining vote, for some odd reason people choose not to vote. imagine how much harder it is going to be when you are trying to persuade them to elect two people - who will be representing you but not in the same way or for the same period of time, or on the same platforms.
yeah i can see it working.

my solution is: keep the house of lords as is  and have more members of parliament and not fewer.

i know the current system isn't perfect, and all that privilege is bad - yet at the same time i have little confidence in what is being offered to replace it. (and yes a lot of that lack of confidence is that it is being championed by nick clegg, a man who gave up pretty much all his principles just to get his feet under the top table).

that said - if i am still unemployed when (if) an elected second house is being chosen i guess i could apply - after all i can't be any worse than some of the people who are going to get elected.

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