IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

Abolish the House of Lords and replace it with something genuinely democratic

05 April, 2019

The House of Lords

• ARTICLE 50 was due to have taken effect on Friday. Theresa May promised us it would. It didn’t. The failure is symptomatic. Something has gone wrong in British politics. It’s a lack of leadership. And it has been missing for some considerable time.

The UK has been a member of the EEC/EU for some 45 years or so. Not once during that period has a British prime minister been perceived as playing a leadership role in the institution. Our usual position is as a surly troublemaker on the periphery.

Britain is a nuclear power within Nato, the most powerful military alliance in the world. Are we perceived as a leader in this organisation? I think not. The president of the United States is a climate change denier. Has Britain stepped in to take over a leadership role on this issue? No, we haven’t.

Brexit or no Brexit? Brexit, soft or hard? Whichever it is, we need urgently to address the malaise in British politics before we sink into global irrelevance.

We need to:

• Abolish, finally, the House of Lords and replace it with something genuinely democratic that allows entry into politics of talented younger people from a wider, more representative sample of multi-ethnic and multicultural Britain.

• Introduce proportional representation into the House of Commons. During the great Brexit debate nearly half of the electorate, including a high proportion of young people, has been represented by just the minority parties who are severely hampered under the existing electoral process.

• Address the outdated class bias that has held back this country for a century or more. Old Etonians (other bastions of privilege benefiting from tax status as a charity are available) have an absurdly disproportionate influence over our politics, civil service, judiciary and media.

The Battle of Waterloo may or may not have been won on the playing fields of Eton, but the Brexit fiasco can certainly trace its roots there.

How to explain, let alone justify, that a public school fogey like Jacob Rees-Mogg ends up representing his Somerset constituency – the very constituency that includes the site of the ancestral coalmines on which Rees-Mogg wealth is based?

I thought we left this sort of latter-day forelock-tugging behind in the 1960s and yet here it is still in modern, multicultural Britain.

We need to renew and rebuild. We must put the past behind us. We urgently need proper investment in our inner cities and other more remote areas that have fallen behind.

We need to recognise that we have become a multicultural nation and our descendants are looking to us to make the best of it. And we must stop obsessing about nationhood and control, and confront the real crisis in front of us, which is the state of our shared environment.

PAUL ELLIOTT
Islington Green Party

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