Outside the marginals

A commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010, 2015 & 2017 elections (and THAT referendum)

Archive for the category “House of Lords Reform”

The Crisis of Indirect Democracy and its Consequences

Indirect democracy is a fragile child. In effect we say we (“democratically”) elect representatives to a body that then “does governing for us”. This is in stark contrast to direct democracy – which in its most extreme state has everybody having a vote on everything.

Parliaments should be shining examples of indirect democracy at work. They consist of “representatives”, not mandated delegates, who collectively form a body that should be recognised as “representative”. Their legitimacy depends, I believe, on three factors.

  • Whether elections to the parliament are recognised as “free and fair”
  • Whether the resulting parliament is recognised as “representative”
  • Whether the parliament through its collective actions and the actions of its members retains the “respect of the people”.

In the UK, I think we are, to a degree, failing on all three of the above. Read more…

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Tax Credits

The Government seemed to be hell-bent on two objectives:

  1. Imposing severe income cuts on those least able to accommodate such cuts
  2. A truly ghastly political car-crash

Then they seek to create a “constitutional crisis” that can only be resolved by flooding the House of Lords with Conservative Peers to push through “Gideon’s grab”.

And yet it could have been so different. Read more…

What does a Lord do when they disagree with their party’s membership?

Today (20 October 2015) we have seen a Labour Peer “resign the Labour whip” – but not apparently resign from the party. This strikes me as strange because from the noise that Lord Warner is making this morning his gripe is not with his fellow Labour Peers, but with the Labour membership and their choice of leader.

He quotes Dennis Healey:

“There are are far too many people who want to luxuriate complacently in the moral righteousness of opposition – we are not just a debating society.

“We are not just a Sunday socialist school. We are a great movement that wants to help real people living on this earth at the present time. We shall never be able to help them unless we get power.”
Guardian website, 20 October 2015 : Lord Warner resigns Labour whip, saying party is ‘no longer credible’

This may be true in the old two-party politics of “turn and turn about”, but Read more…

Scotland: Again?

If the Edinburgh Pandas do give birth to a single cub – there will be as many Pandas in Scotland as there are Labour, Liberal and Conservative MPs combined.

But how much of a tizzy should we get into about this (sensational) result and how should the UK Parliament respond? Read more…

End of Term Report: Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrats, possibly slightly to their surprise found themselves holding the balance of power at the last election and that led to them going into coalition. So how have they done in the last five years?

How do we measure what they have done? On one hand we can measure “how well they have governed” – if we can agree what we mean by “well”. On the other hand we can look at it from the point of view of raw politics. Read more…

End of Term Report: Conservatives

The Conservatives did not win a majority at the last election. So how have they done in the last five years?

How do we measure what they have done? On one hand we can measure “how well they have governed” – if we can agree what we mean by “well”. On the other hand we can look at it from the point of view of raw politics.

Read more…

Scottish Options

The old elitist parties are getting in a right tizzy about the prospect of the Scottish National Party holding the balance of power in the next Parliament.

But they only have themselves to blame. Read more…

A Programme for the Majority?

Just imagine the following programme for government:

  • Reform
    • A shake up of Westminster
    • Abolition of the House of Lords
    • A fair voting system
  • Public Services
    • No tuition fees
    • Educational Maintenance Allowance including part-time college students
    • The NHS in public hands, halting the tide of NHS privatisation
    • Abolition of prescription charges
    • Explicit protection for the NHS on the face of the TTIP agreement
  • Fairness
    • Pensions that protect our older people.
    • A decent welfare system that helps people into work
    • Eradication of working practices that have no place in a decent, modern economy
    • a Living Wage nation
    • Strengthening of the law against domestic abuse – speed up the court process, give more support to victims, and expand schemes to help offenders change their behaviour
    • Gender Equality: Removal of Systemic and institutional barriers – the pay gap, occupational segregation, a lack of affordable childcare and, sometimes, just outdated attitudes
  • Other
    • No new generation of Trident nuclear weapons
    • Deficit reduction but not slash and burn austerity
    • Stay in Europe

If we could break the internal coalitions in the old elitist parties, could we envisage a parliamentary coalition to support this programme? Read more…

Confusion over “rights”

The head of MI5 says we have to choose between the “right to security” and what he sees as a more amorphous “right to privacy”.

Two terrorists say that we have to choose between the right to  “freedom of speech” (if it involves mocking their prophet) and the “right to security”.

Public opinion says that Gordon Taylor (head of the PFA) has to choose between “freedom of speech” (if it involves citing the Hillsborough tragedy / scandal in support of his member Ched Evans) and Mr Taylor’s continuing “right to his job”.

We seem confused! Read more…

Waking Up to “Waking up to a ‘self-mutilated’ UK”

In London, the Tory mayor Boris Johnson said Scotland going independent would be “an utter catastrophe”.

“We are on the verge of trashing our global name and brand in an act of self-mutilation that will leave our international rivals stunned, gleeful and discreetly scornful,” he wrote in the Daily Telegraph.
BBC News website 8 September 2014 : Scottish independence: Darling denies No campaign ‘panic’

Wake up and smell the coffee, Boris! Your mate Dave set things up so that the “we” you refer to are powerless and disenfranchised. What you say may well be true, but consider how the franchised (in Scotland) will react to your outburst: Read more…

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