“Reform” of the House of Lords has been on the agenda this week.
This MP partly gets it right:
The Deputy Prime Minister was heckled:
The coalition's agenda suffered defeat, as The Guardian reports, and 91 “Conservative” MPs opposed.
The problem manifests itself in the manifestos of all three major British political parties, as we reflected on in these pages just prior to the latest British general election.
Writes Mr. Gerald Warner over at Scotland on Sunday:
There is no need to reform the House of Lords, beyond punishing miscreants with expulsion and improving the calibre of those admitted. The chamber that urgently needs reform is the House of Commons, yet it presumes to interfere with its less reprehensible neighbour.Over at his Mail Online blog, writes Mr. Peter Hitchens:
It is time the asinine criticisms of the Upper House were dismissed for the nonsense they are.
The key word here is ‘principled’. There has been (as he notes) some *pragmatic* opposition to the Bill, much along the lines of the campaign in Australia against the abolition of the monarchy a few years ago, under the cunning slogan ‘not *this* republic. This enabled republicans to vote against what was, even on their terms, a not-very attractive new constitution, without ceasing to regard themselves as republicans.Mr. Hitchens goes on:
The idea that a mainly hereditary House was superior in every way (which it was, because it was entirely outside the power of the whips and had the right sort of powers for a revising chamber , that is delay and obstruction, but a veto only over major constitutional change) is now considered an absurdity by the so-called Conservative Party. As with every piece of ground this party gives up as it retreats before the social, cultural, sexual and ultimately political revolutionaries of the 1960s left, it has no understanding of, or liking for, the things it is supposed to defend. So once it has given them up, usually by running away from a fight, it never occurs to it to recapture the ground lost. It becomes, bit by bit, the image of its opponents, until it is actually part of the revolution itself.Further:
An appointed House is in the end indefensible. On what principle is it chosen? Either you worship at the altar of 'democracy' or you defend the force of tradition and inheritance.
Here's a conservative principle, that tradition, inheritance and nobility are things which are good in themselves, coupled with a sensible scepticism about that upstart idea called ‘democracy’ – which in Parliament means that the members are chosen, controlled, rewarded and punished by a centrally-directed party machine subject to the executive.Hitchens follows up in a later post:
The Commons might well be (in my view is ) completely under Downing Street’s thumb. But the old Lords were not. Could we say the same of an appointed House (which then seemed to be what we were going to get)? And can we say the same of an ‘elected House’, that is, one selected by the centralised party machines?Where will the drive for democratic absolutism end?!?
Elsewhere: Royal World, The Mad Monarchist
Cross-posted at Wilson Revolution Unplugged.