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An end to House of Lords cronies

01.04.2010 // by Pam Giddy

Pam Giddy writes on the "No more Lords" campaign on Guardian.co.uk:

Ever get the feeling that the political system is sick? How else to react to news that we might be inflicted with Lord Two Jags because John Prescott's wife "loves the idea" of being called Lady P?

The former deputy PM, who in the past has denounced the "flunkery and titles" of the lords, is apparently considering his options. While he does that, perhaps we should consider, as voters, how such episodes degrade and cheapen our democracy as a whole.

We are told that granting his wife's wishes is "probably the least" Prescott can do given his past behaviour. Probably the least, eh? Do we get a say in his appointment to a permanent seat in parliament? Or must we too be victims of his marital indiscretions before we hold influence? It would be funny were it not so tragic.

After the general election we can expect a whole tranche of ex-MPs, party loyalists and flunkies to make their way back into parliament having been ennobled on the recommendation of party leaders. There they will expect to intervene in laws that affect all of us while living out their retirements. Like monsters from of one of those B-grade horror movies, just as you thought you'd got rid of them, they re-emerge under a different form.

Ann Widdecombe, Michael Howard, John Reid, Alan Milburn and Des Browne are all hotly tipped. Some may have served their constituents well and held high office - but should that give them a right to return to parliament without being elected? As Martin Kettle wrote last week, this practice of ennobling ex-MPs reeks and it's time to put a stop to it.

The public is right to sense that the rot extends to more than just a few individuals or any one party. Parliament itself, in its very culture and institutions, is corrupt and corrupting and the House of Lords, with its system of appointments and cronyism, sits at the very top of this edifice.

As Sir John Butterfill boasted to the undercover Dispatches reporter posing as a lobbyist "It is quite likely that I will go to the Lords ... another string to my bow as far as you're concerned."

Read the full article - and sign the open letter to party leaders calling for No more Lords!

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