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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Liberal Democrats should boycott peerage merry-go-round

The House of Lords is the second largest revising chamber in the World, it is unaccountable and if the Lord Sewel episode is to be believed, it is out of control.  Despite that the Independent reports that the Prime Minister is planning to appoint yet more Tory peers in order to redress the political balance there.

This just perpetuates a merry-go-round in which successive Prime Ministers add to the numbers in the House of Lords to reward loyal service, get rid of troublemakers, open up winnable seats for their favourites, thank financial donors or seek to get a majority of working peers. Occasionally, they appoint people for their expertise. It is the longest-running farce in Westminster.

The Liberal Democrats have long been committed to reform, arguing for a scaled-down and democratically elected second chamber with a clearly defined role within the British Constitution and which will be accountable to voters for its actions. Tim Farron is absolutely right to call for a constitutional convention to get a consensus as to how we can achieve this.

But enough is enough. The Liberal Democrats need to stick with their principles and walk away from this ever-growing fiasco. We should tell the Prime Minister that we are no longer going to help him add to this already bloated body of legislators.

The Liberal Democrats group of peers are doing an excellent job and should be allowed to continue with that role within the system as it stands. But until there is reform Tim Farron should not add to their number. Somebody has to make a stand and as a party with a clear way forward that somebody should be the Liberal Democrats.
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