It comes to something when those who believe in Liberty and Democracy have to rely on a bunch of unelected grandees…
The Reform Bill is being rushed through the House of Lords, after being guillotined through The Commons in a debated that lasted for only eight days. thats eight days for the “most important constitutional reform since 1832” as Nick Clegg has called it. Government Mps are muttering – how dare these Lords obstruct this Bill? Labour Lords are patiently re-iterating that they are not holding up the first half of the Bill, which deals with holding a Referendum on voting reform, but that they have legitimate opposition to the second part, which will abolish 50 Constituencies, and enlarge the remaining 600.
The Lords have a point, and it is a vital one. For the record, I am a member of the Yes campaign, and support electoral reform as a much needed step towards a more Democratic country, yet I will continue to voice my doubts about this Bill, which includes one of the most naked attempts at Gerrymandering since Westminster Council in the 1980s.
I simply cannot see what is so “progressive” about making our elected politicians yet more distant at a stroke. Neither do I accept that cost is a factor – since when did economy trump Liberty? Honourable Conservatives should have placed themselves at the forefront of a campaign to preserve traditional geographical boundaries, moderated by the Boundary Commission, which has a long record of neutrality. They did nothing of the sort, instead along with Lib Dems, they dutifully trooped through the aye lobby, no doubt hoping that Labour will be the main losers.
And the people? Well yet again , this is another law that no-one voted for. Along with Tuition fees, NHS “reform”, and pretty much every bit of legislation this bunch of well-off Oxbridge types have agreed upon.
Once The Coalition have forced this nonsense through Parliament, it is very tempting to vote “No” in the referendum, if only to upset Liberal Democrats. This would be wrong in many ways, not least that when this badly-drawn-Bill goes through unamended, as it will, the only way to ameliorate the loss of seats would be to pass AV, which may very possibly work against The Conservatives.
The Lords are an anti-democratic force at the heart of British politics, and I readily call for their replacement with an elected second chamber. However, for once, they are doing the right thing…