One of my photos

Jack Dromey

March 17th, 2006 · Posted by Skuds in Politics · 6 Comments · Politics

I am actually quite encouraged by Jack Dromey’s public comments about this loans business. I find the whole thing hard to understand as I really can’t get my head round why someone would want to be a Lord or even a Sir, let alone want it enough to try buying the title.

I can’t see why we can’t do the sensible thing and scrap the honours system and the House of Lords along with it, and why not add the royal family to the pile while we are at it?

Anyway, what I find encouraging is that Dromey’s reaction seems to be similar to mine. I have a great affection for and loyalty towards the Labour movement and its ideals rather than to specific individuals within the movement. If individuals do something which appears to be outside the ideals of the party and movement I feel offended by that.

Maybe I am generalising, and doing it from an admittedly biased perspective, but when the Tories had their allegations of sleaze I think the reaction of most within the party was regret that it had been discovered. When we have our allegations of sleaze (which I think are far less serious anyway) I think the reaction of most ordinary members is anger that something shady was done, or even appeared to be done, mixed with shame.

I think Dromey’s concern was to find out what was going on and put a stop to it. A Tory in the same position would, I suspect, be far more concerned with covering it up.

Its our own fault though. In 1997 we had the opportunity and the huge majority to make fundamental changes – like scrapping the honours system and the Lords – and we did not push it through then. We did not even make the decision to scrap nuclear weapons and save enough money to really sort out the NHS. It took us 8 years to force through a ban on hunting!

When we should have been carefully dismantling Thatcher’s Britain we were just painting it a different colour.

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6 Comments so far ↓

  • herofix

    I was amazed (and somewhat whipped into a frenzy) by his interview with Peter Snow last night. I envisioned him sweeping aside the guilty parties in a righteous fury like Jesus in the temple kicking out moneylenders. Struck a chord with me.

    But that’s a big ‘NO’ from me on scrapping the Lords. I know that it can’t be escaped from how it really needs some kind of reform on just a gut intuitive level, but there is the makings of a cracking balance on an overpowerful executive somewhere in there. If we went to some PR form of voting that ended up working, I’d maybe say OK. But at the moment I’m right behind them in blocking the ID card bill not only on philosophical grounds, but also because the Home Secretary has the brazen cheek to claim that it is still a voluntary scheme because you don’t have to get a passport if you don’t want one. I know it’s a slim hope, but maybe if they block for long enough something good can come of it, or perhaps the use of the Parliament Act in pushing it through will spark mass civil disopedience a la the Poll Tax (this last part is just a kind of wet dream).

    But still, it shouldn’t be only the toffs in jodphurs who get to disregard New Labour’s wrongheaded and ill thought-out new crackdowns should it?

  • Graisg

    I don’t know about the House of Lords being a priority, maybe restoring punters faith in the Lower Chamber should be the thing for anyone that cares about democracy to do?
    It is worrying folks, it is worrying!

  • Skuds

    I didn’t say that we should not have a second chamber, just that it should be filled by election rather than patronage, or by being a C of E bishop.

  • herofix

    Perhaps a reformed second chamber could be elected with PR? I don’t see the point if its composition mirrors that of the Commons.

  • Skuds

    Its a bit of a dilemma really. If a large majority of the country were to support one party then having a second chamber dominated by any other party would obviously be undemocratic, but having it dominated by the same party would lessen its ability to act as a brake.

    Supporters of the Lords would say that it works because it is undemocratic – it remains the same despite the passing fancies of the electorate – but I find that unsatisfactory.

    Have you heard of the Billy Bragg solution? That sounds like a good idea. I can’t remember all the details, but its something like electing the commons as we do now with first past the post on a constituency level but using those same votes to elect the Lords on a straight PR basis.

    That way if you are, for example, a socialist in Windsor you might know that your vote is unlikely to elect an MP but it will still count for the Lords. One benefit is said to be a possibility of increased turnout among those who feel there vote is wasted and maybe a decline in tactical voting.

    If more than 50% of the country vote the same way you could end up with both chambers having the same party in charge, but then it would be what the majority want, so maybe a good thing. Not that any party is likely to get 50% of the vote.

    Alternatively, you just hold the elections in-between general election and rely on the mid-term anti-government votes.

    Personally I like the Bragg idea, but think it could be done the other way round – use the FPTP to elect a ‘Lords’ and the PR element to elect a much smaller Commons. Surely 600+ people is far to many to function efficiently. Let the 2nd chamber do the scrutiny and all the local casework and the 1st chamber can get on with developing policy.

  • herofix

    Yeah, I’ll buy that. Whichever way round.