This month saw the latest batch of appointments to the House of Lords, the unelected second house of British legislature. The people who were ‘elevated’ to the lords as peers of the realm can now claim attendance fee’s and a raft of allowances as working peers. Only the England and Wales Green’s Jenny Jones has been put there through a member ballot, all the rest are direct nominees from parties. The Greens only nominated after some debate, reasoning they can quicker bring about change by having someone on the inside.
Many of those who have been ‘elevated’ are party donors or big business supporters of those who have put them in the Lords. Ever get the feeling you’re being cheated? This is an unaccountable level of our democracy which is a relic of our feudal past and has no place in a modern democracy, but it’s ok, because as a modern democracy surely our elected representatives will be looking to reform this system… right?
Nope. Reform of the House of Lords is off the table again, after the Lib Dems meekly ditched it after their Tory ‘partners’ decided they’d rather not honour the coalition agreement on this issue (something worth remembering when further devolution is waved under our noses by Better Together). There are no plans for any reform at Westminster, save the Tories desire to redraw electoral boundaries to suit their desires.
Someone mentioned to me on Twitter that this was nothing to do with the independence referendum. I couldn’t quite believe it. This is EVERYTHING to do with the referendum. Unaccountability and underrepresentation is the most valid reason to vote for independence; we can create a fully accountable and representative parliament that people relate to; no more Barons, Lords and Bishops creating, vetoing and meddling with our democracy (unless they stand for election of course).
There is no argument for retaining the House of Lords. It is useful to have a second chamber to review the work of parliament but as a new nation we could innovate, not hold onto relics like the Lords. Let’s find new systems that suit Scotland and allow our people to be truly represented and lawmakers to be sufficiently challenged.
I’m genuinely not content to sit back and campaign for independence as a continuation of the way things are. What’s the point in that? If we’re getting independence, let’s take the chance to do things differently and show the world what a great wee country we can be. Put fairness, representation and social democracy back to our heart and we can truly lead where the UK shamefully falls. This is what we’re fighting for and what the Unionists are protecting. The abolition of feudal right, privilege and archaic aristocracy.
Labour, Conservatives and the Lib Dems are protecting this system because they currently benefit from it. This is their career ladder, their birthright and their powerbase. If we take it away then the elite will be forced to do some soul-searching and our democracy might just be more representative of the people that live here, not the people that rule here. The MP’s and the Lords currently based in Scotland, will have lost a substantial cash cow. It is not necessarily your interests they have at heart when they claim we’re Better Together.
After we abolish the peerages we can look at the issue of land reform. In Scotland, 432 families own half the land in the country. That’s an astonishing figure. We need to place large amounts of this land in the hands of the community and out of the reach of the elite. Only then will we be able to address depopulation in rural communities and the dearth of social housing across the country.
At the end of the day, I don’t know if Scotland has a greater social conscience than the rest of the country; I’ve not been out and asked everyone. But I have to believe we can do better. I can only campaign and talk about what I would like to see and why I’m voting for independence. I want fairness to be put at the heart of this country and for the weakest and most vulnerable in our society to be protect, not the rich and most powerful.
What do you want?