Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Hereditary Commons, Lords for sale

Under the Blair government, the power of hereditary peers in the House of Lords was abolished, but Britain has not become a fairer society. Hereditary rule is still flourishing and has become normal in the Labour party as more and more sons and daughters of Labour ministers are selected as candidates for safe Labour constituencies. In other worlds they are handed a seat in the Commons,
     Jack Straw's son Will is already campaigning up in Lancashire for the seat of Rossendale and Darwen. Has he got any links with Lancashire? No, of course not, and yes he is the same bloke who was caught in a sting offering to sell drugs to a journalist when he was a student. That doesn't matter when you are a Home Secretary's son.
    Stephen Kinnock is the Labour candidate for Aberavon in Wales although he lives in London and works for a business advisory company. No going down the pit for him!
    And Emily Benn, 24-year-old grand-daughter of Tony and niece of Hilary Benn, is already a Labour councillor in Croydon South and approved candidate for the General Election next year. Surely it is only a matter of time before Euan Blair gets awarded his safe seat somewhere. He has made it clear that he is available as a PPC. Instead of a hereditary House of Lords we have got a hereditary House of Commons. There are fewer working-class MPs now than there were thirty years ago.
    Meanwhile the House of Lords has become a means of perpetuating the power of politicians the electorate would like to vote out, but can't. They don't go away, they go upstairs. And instead of representing the people, they represent the interests of the many multi-national corporations who pay or employ them. Lords are allowed to lobby for businesses and private interests, including tax-avoidance companies. Sixty-eight Lords hold appointment advising companies how to improve their relations with government. According to a recent survey carried out by the Wall Street Journal, "One hundred and thirteen draw paychecks from financial-services firms. Twenty-six are paid by resource-extraction companies. Twenty work for foreign governments, in capacities that include advising officials on policy and consulting for government-controlled companies."
       Richard Allan, Lord Allan, is European policy director of Facebook. He used his position in the Lords to argue down a legal change that would have made Facebook more responsible for libel and defamation. 
       It would be naive to think that Britain had become a fairer society because of the reforms under the Blair government. What we have got now is a parliament that gives a damn about nothing apart from its own salaries and pensions rolling in. Since it spends most of  its time voting away its own powers and our rights, maybe the best thing to do with it would be to scrap it altogether.

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/may/04/will-straw-mp-labour-jack-straw-interview
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-west-wales-26700333
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2765790/Call-rein-Red-Princes-Grassroots-Labour-supporters-blast-party-giving-children-former-MPs-safe-seats-favour-working-class-candidates.html
http://graphics.wsj.com/house-of-lords/   House of Lords - sources of payments to peers

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