Wednesday, 30 September 2009

The House of Lords...

One of Gordon’s key points during his “triumphant” speech the other day (yawn), was based around the modernisation of the House of Lords and I see that he has already set the wheels in motion in order to abolish the remaining hereditary peers. Quite frankly, I think he is wrong to do so, but then I think he is wrong about almost everything...

The House of Commons is a purely elected chamber of MPs, which holds the right to debate and pass just about any motion they like. In the early part of the twentieth century, a bill was passed which curtailed the powers of the second chamber (the Lords) so that they could not oppose any finance bill and had to pass any elected motion on the third attempt. The idea was to prevent “the old guard” from simply blocking any bill in the Commons due to their own conservative values or narrow-mindedness. On the whole, it was a worthy idea and one that has been expanded throughout the years in terms of the structure and make up of the House of Lords in order to remove as much of the “privileged” seats as possible. Such measures have typically come about during periods of Labour rule and have been born partly of class prejudice towards the middle and upper classes and disguised behind the public cry of progress, fairness and democracy. What a shame, then, that this is – in practice – hot air.

Of course Gordon Brown wants only elected peers. Of course, deep down, he wants only people he rates, values or who will act in his interests – which is why he re-appointed Peter Mandelson (New Labour champion), regularly confers with JK Rowling and why he fast-tracked Sir Alan Sugar into one of the seats (both huge Labour party donators). In the same sense, he refuses to acknowledge the break up of the British Isles as, whilst ostensibly he blames the "radical factions" from Wales and Scotland for seeking independence, he actually realises that without the existing votes he enjoys from these two countries, Labour would be finished (in 2005 more people in England voted Tory than Labour). We could also use the example of his attitude to media channels in light of the Sun’s decision to abandon New Labour – he wasn’t complaining in 1997, 2001 and 2005 when they backed his party in the wake of Campbell’s spin machine, was he? And yet, now they’ve turned against them, apparently we need to observe substance over style all of a sudden...

But anyway, back to the point, which is the matter of hereditary peers. It is clear that, by removing any obstacle to him or his policies, he will buy himself more time. In my opinion, the value of having certain hereditary peers in the Lords is no different to the value of having a Monarch. Of course, the practical extent of their powers is questionable and the hand of democracy doesn’t seem to come remotely close. However, if we formed our opinion of people’s credentials based upon their birth right, we would be in a mess. Prince Harry could not help being born into royalty any more than an African child could help being born into poverty, which is why it is the reserve of the foolish, bitter socialists to criticise and oppose anyone who has had it lucky, just as much as it is the ignorance of a wealthy man not to employ someone purely because of their working class origins. But that isn’t the point. The fact that we have a Monarch, gives us something that republics don’t have – a sense of the greater good, a figurehead and a national entity that preserves the historical values of the country. For every Wilson, Heath, Callaghan, Thatcher, Major, Blair and Brown, we have had Elizabeth II. She sits there, fully adorned for every State opening of Parliament, without any real power, but with the will of a nation, representing the hopes, spirit and duty of the British people. Policies and politicians come and go – lining their pockets as they do so – but she remains steadfast in her patriotic duty. Yes, she enjoys riches far beyond the majority, but with that comes great responsibility. When did you see her fall out of a taxi drunk? When did she appear on reality TV? When did she have a drug problem and have to go to the Priory? Her homes are in the possession of the State and at least two of them are open museums to the public, generating a huge amount of revenue for the UK every year. It is clear to me who is the richer for having a Monarchy and that is Great Britain.

For this very reason, we should value the servants of and to the crown. But that alone is not reason enough to preserve a portion of life peers. There is another valid reason and that is the safeguard of conservation. There is a saying that goes “whoever is not a communist at twenty has no heart, but whoever is not a capitalist at thirty has no head.” I, of course, had no heart, but there is a truth there that correlates to something beyond just experience. It relates to a sense of conservatism (and I’m NOT talking politically here), an acknowledgement of the greater good, the historic values, ideals and principles that are often lost or misplaced over time. You can’t possibly expect to elect people who have an in-built sense of this – those who possess it are simply part of the fabric of certain factions of life. Of course, hereditary peers should not make up the majority of the chamber, but they should be there nonetheless. They need to act as a buffer to the scores of five-minute politicians, the trendy lefties, the social hypocrites, the bitter unionists and the student protesters. The further we move to a democracy (in spite of Labour’s nanny-come-police state), the more essential it is to protect the great values of Britain and especially England (I am English and would expect the Welsh and Scots to feel the same) from the scourge of ignorance-fuelled politics that Blair’s reality-based generation have come to hold.

Remember, turkeys never vote for Christmas, but if chance would have it ALWAYS vote for the goose, so bear that in mind when listening to any politician’s point of view, especially in this present government.

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