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Archive for the tag “House of Lords”

Benefits – Wrong Cuts

The Bishops .in particular, in the House of Lords are speaking out against the proposed Welfare benefit cuts and putting aside the fact that Bishops are un-elected and should have no place in our law making process, they are right to do so.

Yes there is a problem with too much being paid out but this is not the fault of the claimants at whom the government likes to point the finger of blame. As usual governments and particularly Tory ones, wear blinkers and always react by hitting the weakest hardest rather than looking more deeply into a problem. Stopping just short of naming them as ‘scroungers’ ministers speak of them as ‘getting’ £25000, £35000 + per year but let’s just pause and think for a moment. Who is actually ‘getting’ this largesse? A not uncommon rent in London and other large cities could be £300 per week which equates to nearly £16,000 in a year and this goes to Landlords who are generally investment companies and rich individuals taking advantage of a cronic housing shortage and the, so far, willingness of the welfare system to keep paying. It is the Landlords who are ‘getting’ the payouts not the claimants.

Tackle the greed of landlords, tackle the housing shortage and there will be no need to uproot people, to risk family breakdown and impose intolerable stress on individuals. These proposals should be fought  with as much vigor as was the Poll Tax but I doubt it will happen. The Poll Tax affected everyone, these proposals affect only a weak and demonised minority.

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Election for Sale

I’m not going to go into the obvious scandal of Lord Ashcroft but it does point to a big fault line in our weak democracy.

The cost of elections escalates with every one of them so it doesn’t take a genius to realise that eventually, if not already, that the party that can lay claim to the most money stands a far greater chance of winning. That is not democracy that is akin to buying votes. Surely it is time that a limit is set to what can be spent by any party both at an election and also and perhaps even more importantly, on any one constituency between elections.

In addition we must have a fully elected 2nd chamber and therefore do away with buying seats in the Lords, Bishops and aristocracy influencing our laws and while we’re at it lets have an elected head of state. Then and only then can we lay any sort of claim to actually being a democracy.

Thomas Paine: Jan 29 1737 – June 8, 1809

Today marks the 200th  anniversary of the death of Thomas Paine the founding father of what is now the United States of America’s break from the domination of the British monarchy.

There can be no doubt that Thomas, were he around now, would be both horrified and amazed that the people of Britain still have their weak democracy dominated by an unelected second chamber and ruled not by the vote but by a single unelected family.

Public Anger

The public are rightly outraged and angry over the subject of MP’s expenses and perhaps we could do with some more anger.

If only the public would show more anger then perhaps we might get some worthwhile changes. Like anger over our young soldiers dying in a futile invasion of Afghanistan; like wasting billions on nuclear weapons, submarines and aircraft carriers; like billions more on ID cards and intercepting all our ‘phone calls and emails. Like refusing to allow the imposition of Unitary Authorities when the people, on the rare occasions they have even been asked, give a resounding no. Let’s get angry about the unaccountable House of Lords and yes, let’s get angry about that bastion of anti-democracy, the Royal family.

If this current anger over expenses helps to make voters take note of politics and realise that power really does lie with the people but that we have to fight to keep it, every inch of the way, or risk losing it altogether, then it will turn out to have been a good thing.

Peers Knuckles to Be Rapped

A couple of Peers, Lord Truscott and Lord Taylor have been found guilty of being willing to amend laws in exchange for cash have been recommended for suspension from the House of Lords for up to six months.

Wow! As much as that for taking bribes, bringing the House of Lords into even more disrepute and shame on the Labour Party. What on earth will they do with themselves for six months away from the House? Just have to be content with their business interests and make money I suppose.

At least with the current scandals in the House of Commons when it comes to elections we can, if we choose, vote out those whom we distrust. The Lords are unelected, undemocratic and beyond the reach of the electorate. Tony Blair promised reform of this anachronistic, medieval chamber but did nothing. It is time that we demanded our democratic right to elect all who make decisions on our behalf.

Lord Ahmed

It just gets better doesn’t it? If you are a Muslim AND a Lord you can almost get away with anything. Lord Ahmed admitted sending text messages while driving at over 60mph along the MI and to dangerous driving. The Lord hit a stationery car killing the driver, Martyn Gombar.

Ahmed was sentenced to a derisory 16 weeks in jail and has now had 12 weeks of that suspended by the Court of Appeal as an ‘exception’. One law for them and another law for the rest of us, well no surprise there then.

UPDATE: Lord Ahmed’s lawyer said that to keep him in jail any longer would have an adverse effect on his charitable work. I assume that being in jail would have an ‘adverse effect’ on just about every criminal’s family life, employment prospects and more; we’d better let them all out then?

Cash for Peers

Among all the news about the economy, rising unemployment and the ex HBOS,  head of the FSA furore, was slipped in that the police are not going to investigate the allegations of corruption in the House of Lords.

It has been alleged that four peers seemed willing to accept substantial sums of money by lobbyists in return for pushing amendments to bills that would favour the benefactors. Having spent millions on the ‘cash for honours’ scandal and got nowhere we can perhaps understand the reluctance of the police to venture into the political nightmare of the Lords.

This just leaves us with the unedifying spectacle of the Lords investigating themselves and I for one have little doubt as to the whitewash that will eventually emerge. The four accused may or may not be guilty but in the unlikely event that they were found to be so there are no sanctions that can be imposed upon them. They cannot be thrown out and no matter how the people of this nation feel, they cannot be voted out out either because they were never voted in.

We were promised before the 1997 election that there would be democratic reform of the second chamber and we are still waiting. Power belongs to the people and the people must have the right to remove power from who have been granted undemocratic positions.

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