Tuesday, April 20, 2010

"Reform" that isn't

When is a democracy not a democracy? When its the UK, of course! In addition to having an unfair electoral system, the UK also suffers from having the House of Lords. A relic of feudalism, the Lords consists of a bunch of unelected peers, and handful of hereditary landowners, and a clique of Anglican Bishops appointed because of their religion. None of its members are elected. But despite this total lack of any democratic mandate, it has acted as a consistent roadblock to the policies of the government of the day. Sometimes, this has been for the better - but it is unacceptable on principle to any democrat. Laws should be made by elected representatives - not unelected cronies accountable to no-one.

Since 1997, the UK Labour Party has been promising reform, but they have never delivered. Since they're in the middle of an election campaign, they're promising it again - and have leaked their plans. But those plans are somewhat underwhelming. The centrepiece of their "bold" plan? Cutting the number of unelected Bishops from 24 to 12. So, there will still be unelected bigots in the House. Meanwhile, just two-thirds of the House would be elected - and those for such a long term (15 years) that they might as well be appointed anyway. This is "reform" so token as to not be worthy of the name. It doesn't promise change, but simply more of the same.

The UK is a unitary (as opposed to federal) state. There are no separate regional interests that need to be represented. It does not need an upper house. The only reform the House of Lords needs is abolition.