Friday, 29 May 2009

You Ermine a Laugh

Today it is being reported that 52 Labour MPs are currently seeking to be on a Brown resignation honours list for elevation to the Upper Chamber after the next election. That is one in every 7 MPs that were elected under Blair in 2005. But this number is the backbenchers not even counting the prominent Cabinet Members who would expect ennoblement when they finally leave the commons. Many of the 52 have not yet announced that they will be stepping down but are at this point intending to stand again.

The fact that so many are seeking elevation shows that Labour is merely going through the motions until the election is called, but also that the system is flawed. People who know nothing other than politics in the Labour party are wanting to stay on in the office down the corridor. Admittedly it is a rather splendid office building, and the work is very similar to what they do now. But unlike currently is not up the whim of the 70,000 or so people who give them a review every 4-5 years it is a job for life.

The fact that these people may well be failing to satisfy the electorate yet maintain a seat in 'the other place' shows just how much reform is needing throughout the whole of Parliament. Some of these 52 may well be those who are stepping down or who may be forced out on the back of the expenses scandal. They should not have an automatic or semi-automatic right to be appointed to an allowance system worh £45,ooo per annum on top of their MPs pension and parachute payment.

We need reform in the Lords and the Commons. Nick Clegg is right that much of the stuff that needs to be done has been debated in depth in the past. But the 'honourable members' have done all they can to preserve their own path to easy street. Unless they wake up, smell the sulphur from the torches of the approaching hoard and take action they won't be preserved.

In launching the Take Back Power agenda for change yesterday Nick has shown what is required, achievable and doable. As Millennium said yesterday politics is the 'art of the possible' some of the reforms (such as AV+ instead of STV) do not go as far as Lib Dems want, but they are things on which there has been some level of agreement in the past. That is how the 100 days target can and should be met. We're looking for consensus, a consensus for change and the clock for that 100 days starts ticking on Monday when our MPs return.

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