LibLInk: Lord (Paul) Tyler – Just Deserts?

Paul TylerOver at Lords of the Blogs, Lib Dem peer Paul Tyler gives short shrift to the complaints of his parliamentary colleagues complaining that the red benches cannot accommodate the 22 new peers appointed last week:

What a nerve! If on 10th July 2012, having given the Government’s Bill a huge second reading majority, those very same MPs had allowed it to make progress, this alleged problem would have been solved. Egged on by Peers and journalists, they broke their manifesto promises to bring democracy to the Lords by playing party games. Had the Reform Bill passed, political appointments would have ceased by now and we would be preparing for the first election of 120 members representing every region and nation of the UK, next year. The choice was theirs two years ago: popular election or party patronage. They are now getting what they asked for.

You can read his full post here. And you can also read Paul’s exasperated account of the election to replace Lord (Robert) Methuen, the Lib Dem hereditary peer who died last month here, including this snippet:

In a further ironic twist, the guidance tells us that the “Alternative Vote System will be used”. I wonder if all those very many Peers – Conservative and Labour – who campaigned so vigorously and voluably against the AV system in 2011 on the grounds that it was unfair and dangerously undemocratic might register their protest by abstaining in the byelection? It’s curious how such a system is the obvious choice when legislators are the electors, but not when electors are choosing legislators.

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10 Comments

  • “In a further ironic twist, the guidance tells us that the “Alternative Vote System will be used”. I wonder if all those very many Peers – Conservative and Labour – who campaigned so vigorously and voluably against the AV system in 2011 on the grounds that it was unfair and dangerously undemocratic might register their protest by abstaining in the byelection? It’s curious how such a system is the obvious choice when legislators are the electors, but not when electors are choosing legislators.”

    That’s very disingenuous. If only one person is to be elected, then AV and STV are identical. If 650 people are to be elected, they are very different. Specifically, STV is “fair” in the sense that it’s approximately proprtional. But intrinsically AV is no more proportional than FPTP.

  • “The Lords reforms were dire, and I am glad they were defeated. 15 year terms ! The essence of democracy is to be able to elect and remove people – these peer would not be voted out ever, madness. Then we have only 120 elected – a fraction of the total because of the insistence on keeping and unelected element and 15 year terms – which made the prospect of a workable STV system zero.”

    To say nothing of the semi-open (or semi-closed) list system, which would effectively have perpetuated party appointment for a large proportion of peers.

  • do you mean ‘just desserts’?

  • The 15 year terms idea has attracted much ire, but I actually liked it, it would reduce the power of the whips

  • There is an alternative. Stop appointing new peers and allow the Lords to disappear in time. If Scotland votes no and there is further devolution of power to the parts of the UK there might be a need for a Federal Chamber but otherwise the Commons Committee system should be strengthened to scrutinise legislation. If we must have a Second Chamber then it should be purely advisory so its composition would not matter.

  • I am also grumpy with political pressure groups wanting elected second chamber. The chance was rejected as it always is. If there is an element of ‘let them live with the consequences’ my only concern is that the Commons does not have the inconvenience. I am less sure that the Lords would have not found a way to stop something they found difficult.

  • A Social Liberal 12th Aug '14 - 9:30pm

    Sadie

    It isn’t pressure groups who want reform, it has been a policy of the Lib Dems since their inception

  • Matthew Huntbach 13th Aug '14 - 11:08am

    Chris

    To say nothing of the semi-open (or semi-closed) list system, which would effectively have perpetuated party appointment for a large proportion of peers.

    I think the list system is a good idea for the Lords, with STV for the Commons. The objection often raised to an elected Lords is that it means only those who can succeed in the grubby vote-winning game can get there. Fine, so if we have appointed lists, that argument against goes away. It would obviously be in the interests of the political parties to make sure their lists do include the sort of special interest people that supporters of the existing Lords say is its best aspect. Also, there is nothing to stop special interest groups putting together their own lists, so if people feel the political parties are just putting forward tired old hacks, there’s a solution – don’t vote for them. FPTP doesn’t give that solution because of the split-vote problem – you feel forced to vote for tired old hack from party A because if you vote for interesting independent who is a bit A-ish, you risk splitting the vote and letting in tired old hack from party B, with B-ish voters feeling similarly forced to vote for tired old hack from party B. This point COULD have been made in the AV referendum, and I’m sure it would have helped the case. But the ad-men told us we couldn’t possibly run the Yes campaign in a way that actually explained the system with examples like this, because the plebs would find it boring.

  • For the avoidance of doubt: the dictionary says “deserts = what one deserves, either as reward or punishment” (same origin as deserving etc) not to be confused with “desserts = from desservir, to clear the table, the last course at dinner.” And, yes, I had to look it up too.

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