Baroness D’Souza gives us an unusual definition of democracy

It’s been a staple argument of despots and dictators for decades, even centuries. They’re not undemocratic you see. They’re actually far more democratic than those decadent people who rely on elections. Because democracy isn’t about elections after all, is it?

Such arguments, even when dressed up by sticking the word “democracy” into a country’s name, have rightly and widely been given short shrift. You’d have thought, therefore, that arguing that democracy doesn’t require elections would be an argument a Parliamentarian these days might steer clear of.

But no.

Step forward Baroness D’Souza:

I do not believe that elections are the only form of democracy. I do not think you can argue that this House [of Lords] is undemocratic.

Arguing that the House of Lords is undemocratic but that doesn’t matter is one thing. But arguing that it is democratic in its current state? Excuse me whilst I rescue my jaw from the floor.

By the way, she’s not a fringe peer with an eccentric view of democracy. She’s convenor of the Crossbench Peers.

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11 Comments

  • Simon Foster 22nd Jun '11 - 8:22pm

    I’m going to share her comments with my A level Politics students. Strangely enough, they’ve all just had exams including House of Lords reform.

    I can confirm the idea of the House of Lords being democratic in its current form scores exactly zero as an idea on my syllabus (Edexcel).

  • Nick Cotter 22nd Jun '11 - 9:18pm

    Firstly, I will declare an Interest – my Dad is Lord Brian Cotter – Lib Dem Peer.
    Secondly, I will declare a further interest – Baroness D’Souza came to speak to the 6th form @ my eldest son’s comprehensive school several months ago and he was highly impressed with her intelligence, commonsense and sheer “impressiveness” – if there is such a word in the English dictionary ?? He remains highly dischuffed with the Liberal Democrat party because of the betrayal over university tuition fees.
    Thirdly, are we as a party REALLY going to sell (at the current time) to the British electorate a further elected and highly remunerated set of politicians with all the “expenses” (sic), staff, capital office equipment etc, etc, etc that this will necessitate ??
    Fourthly, this “piece” from Mark Pack, someone I normally admire had something of the “tabloid press” in it’s sneering, “holier than thou” tone. Please can we raise this H of L debate to a higher, more measured and sensible level ??
    Regards,

    Cllr. Nick Cotter.

  • Civil war could be described as a democratic process.

  • I thought she was trying to link the fact that the majority of members are now appointed by those who are democratically elected to some type of democratic mandate. An interesting (but in my view flawed) argument.

  • Nick Cotter and Steve Way have said it all really, Mark Pack’s greatest vice is his tendency to start preaching… it seems for every insightful or thought-provoking piece he writes there is also a sneering, condescending, “tabloidesque” one.

    As Steve correctly points out, Baroness D’Souza was referring to the fact that the majority of peers are appointed by democratically elected representatives- to suggest that her argument had something in common with dictators of Kim Jong-Il’s ilk is disingenuous at best.

  • Simon McGrath 23rd Jun '11 - 6:14am

    The Party needs rather more people who can communicate using a tabloid press style – short, pithy, puts the arguments across in a forceful way which can be easily understood by those not blessed with a sophisticated education.

  • LondonLiberal 23rd Jun '11 - 9:03am

    i thought Mark was bang on the money. well said – and let’s withdraw the whip from libdem peers who oppose elections.

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