Why House of Lords reform actually matters to Merseyside
Politicians are conning the public again. Hopefully the public won't fall for it this time.
Parliament is starting to embark on the task of reforming the House of Lords but already politicians are claiming that this is "arcane" and that people don't care about the issue. That is probably code for them not wanting people to care about the issue.
Just remember that the people saying this (MPs) are the same people that often get to retire to the House of Lords - the most exclusive club in Britain.
92 of its members are hereditary peers. They get to make laws that affect everyone in this country because of who their parents were.
Reform started 100 years ago but somehow MPs never seem to get round to finishing it off before they can benefit from the way it is appointed.
Now the British Establishment claim it isn't urgent, it doesn't matter and if it ain't broke don't fix it. Many of them say all that from the House of Lords. It is all for our own good though and not because they want to stay there. Honest.
Dealing with each of those claims in turn I turn first to the claim that it isn't urgent. Leaving aside the fact that this has been an issue for a century, if it isn't urgent then why did all three parties say they would make the House of Lords wholly or largely elected in their manifestos in 2010? The Liberal Democrats have taken criticism for not being able to get our tuition fees policy through despite being the only party to promise it but when all three parties have agreed surely that should go through Parliament easily. Unless they never intending.
Now turning to the idea that it doesn't matter. To Liverpool and Merseyside it really does. Peers are based in London. They are generally Lords of somewhere but most of them don't live outside the South. There are many peers who are Lords of somewhere in Merseyside but they don't all live here. In fact most of them don't with some notable exceptions. So London has many champions in the 800 member Lords but the big Northern cities have relatively few. I should probably mention that there are more Lords than MPs so the majority of the people who make our laws aren't elected - some democracy! So Merseyside loses out. Again.
Finally the idea that if it ain't broke don't fix it. It is broke. The argument that it is full of experts is false as someone who leaves a profession to become a working peer will inevitably start to lose touch with that profession. Plus certain professions do better than others. There are many lawyers in the House of Lords but not many window cleaners. Plenty of businessmen (and they are usually men) but not a lot of people from the shopfloor. The House of Lords is broken, it isn't representative of Britain and in 2012 we really should be electing all the people who sit in Parliament.
So next time you read about someone claiming that the House of Lords doesn't need reform ask yourself whether they are part of the group that can get in. Like an MP. Or a friend of the Prime Minister. Or a very rich businessman.
Next think about if you are part of a group that is not well represented there. Like a young person. Or a woman. Or a retail worker.
This does matter to places like Liverpool, it is urgent that we take this once in a century opportunity and it does need fixing.