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Cameron, Clegg and Miliband want us to have hundreds more politicians (elected from candidates they will choose). So, how is that more representative?

The abolition of the Lords will destroy our Parliamentary constitution

By on Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Judges and other peers wait for the arrival of the Queen at the State Opening of Parliament (Photo: PA)

Judges and other peers wait for the arrival of the Queen at the State Opening of Parliament (Photo: PA)

To what conceivable question is 450 more elected politicians a rational answer? That is the conundrum which comes inescapably to my mind as I contemplate the government’s proposed Lords reform Bill.

And if you answer that the question to which it is the answer is “how is the House of Lords to be made more ‘democratic’,” I have to ask, what on earth do you mean by “democratic”? It’s an interesting word, democratic. It doesn’t, for instance, necessarily mean representative, in the sense of representing, or being in tune with, public opinion. Time and again, the Lords over the years have spoken for the people against the Commons, because the Lords, being largely independent of the government machine, have been more able to express what the people actually wanted than the Commons, whose members mostly have to vote as the whips tell them to vote or risk the loss of their political careers. Of course the Lords are not directly “accountable” to the electorate in the same sense that an elected politician is. But as the splendid Betty Boothroyd — who was Speaker of the House of Commons in the era when the Speaker was still someone we all respected — put it, “nor are the monarchy, the judiciary, the chiefs of the armed services, the Prime Minister, his deputy Mr Clegg or – let us face it – the Cabinet directly accountable”.

How would our political system be improved by giving vastly more power to the existing party machines? A freely elected politician rather than an appointed one sounds like a wonderful thing; but how will you get to be one of these wondrous creatures? You will have to be appointed as a candidate, that’s how. This new reformed chamber will be “elected” by proportional representation: that means that it is the powers that be in the political establishment who will decide on the list of candidates to be elected, that is, on who actually gets to stand for office in the first place. Only then will we get a say; we will “choose” someone we have never heard of, someone from whom we are entirely remote or, more likely, we will stay at home. That’s how elections to the European Parliament unfold. Do you really FEEL democratically represented in the European Parliament? Of course you don’t: this isn’t a democratic institution at all, but a pseudo-democratic Potemkin village, just as the supposedly reformed House of Lords will be.

I repeat: it won’t be a freely elected House at all: it will be pre-selected by the political establishment against which the House of Lords we actually have is a frequently splendid counterbalance. It may be the case that the present Lords is appointed in a number of ways (including the political, but encompassing also an on the whole well-conducted selection of those who have made in some way an outstandingly distinguished contribution to the national life): but once appointed, no political party has any further control of a peer’s speaking or voting: peers are free to do what they actually do rather well: use their considerable collective experience (as I say, they include senior physicians, jurists, civil servants, economists, soldiers, religious leaders, and others as well as senior politicians) to revise legislation. And to quote Baroness Boothroyd again, “I … ask in the simplest and most mundane terms that I can command: in what way would the nation benefit and parliamentary proceedings be enhanced by the abolition of this House of experts and experience, and its replacement by a senate of paid politicians?”

I return to the question with which I began: To what conceivable question is 450 more elected politicians a rational answer? The answer actually is that it is the question of how on earth the Liberals can go into the next election able to say to their core voters that they have actually achieved something radical by going into coalition with the old enemy: in other words, how are they to avoid being electorally wiped out (so far as I am concerned, a consummation devoutly to be wished)? It was put rather well (as well as amusingly; Lords speeches are so much less boring than Commons ones) by Lord (Michael) Forsyth of Drumlean:

I wonder whether your Lordships remember the Austin Allegro. The Austin Allegro was probably the worst car ever built. It was completely unreliable, it had a totally underpowered engine, and its big selling feature was that it had a square steering wheel. This car was designed by the management for political reasons. They ignored the people who knew about cars and design and it was meant to save British Leyland. It was the management’s answer. In fact, they were so convinced that it would save the company that it was nicknamed the “flying pig”.

I do not know whether noble Lords can see the parallel that I am drawing here, but it seems to me that this Bill… has many similarities to the Austin Allegro in so far as the Deputy Prime Minister believes it will save the Liberal Party at the next election. It was conceived for political reasons and without any recognition of the needs of the consumer and the customer — in this case the wider electorate.

That, surely, is the point. This is a Bill for which there is neither support nor even the vaguest interest among the electorate. The government claims that it is being attempted in the name of “democracy”: but doesn’t, or shouldn’t, democracy have something at least to do with responding to the genuine concerns of the people? The fact is that, as Michael Forsyth so perceptively puts it, the Bill “was conceived for political reasons and without any recognition of the needs of the … wider electorate”. It is an utterly cynical operation, encompassed solely for the purposes of the short-term political interests of those concerned. Cameron wants to save the coalition. Clegg wants to save his bacon. And to achieve these very narrow goals, legislation is proposed which would sweep away our parliamentary constitution as it has evolved over 500 years (for, make no mistake, it would also have a profound effect on the powers and operation of the Commons, too).

I return to the ringing denunciation of what is proposed by that great Parliamentarian, Betty Boothroyd: “Never in my experience has an institution at the heart of the British constitution been marked down for destruction on such spurious grounds. Never in all my years in public life has the bicameral role of our Parliament been so wantonly put at risk by such disregard of the nation’s best interests.”

We are told by the experts that this legislative farrago may well not surmount the parliamentary obstacles which stand in its way. I devoutly pray that they are right.

  • teigitur

    I totally agree. Less is more when it comes to politicians.

  • John Jackson

    I come from a land where both houses are elected.   Those who think this is answer to all ills, should live there for a bit and thank God for the chamber they have and leave it alone.

  • paulpriest

    The Lords should be an executive unelected chamber of the informed, the experienced and the independently representative – accoutable to Her Majesty & the sworn Oath as a member of Her Parliament with duties and responsibilities to honour, defend and speak out for Her Majesty’s subjects while not being compromised/jeopardised by the whim of the electorate.

    This is why the very notion of elected police chiefs or judges is not merely insane – it’s contra-Catholic social teaching inherent within the works of St Robert Bellarmine where a public servant is a servant – upholding and defending both the common & uncommon good – not a puppet.whose directives are arbitrated by zeitgeist & perennial self-interest of the powerbrokers.

    Retain our grandees from all spheres whom are in all pockets and none and we will retain an incomparable safeguard for the nation. Tamper with it and all hell may be unleashed.

  • JByrne24

    I broadly agree with W Oddie’s sentiments.

    I remember the stand of by the Earl of Burford in 1999:  “Hundreds of peers gasped when the Earl of Burford, a direct descendant of one of Charles II’s ‘bastard sons’, crawled under a bar in front of the throne to stage his protest brandishing a copy of the government’s bill which will remove all but 92 hereditary peers from the Lords.” (Telegraph Report of 1999, above)
     
    I have a lot of sympathy for “the great-great – etc grandson of the royal bastard”.  
    The Life-Peers are little more than former political hacks and loyal servants of the main parties (both in the Commons and Local Government). They are being rewarded for following the party-line and ignoring the wishes of those who elected them (that’s the definition of “loyalty”). They are also in the Upper House to follow the party line – they are of the “party mindset”.They are also a collection of very bossy people (especially, perhaps, the ghastly women – sorry, but an ex-girlfriend is one of this lot, and she was bossy at a tender age) – as you would expect from their “upbringing”. As for “elected” Peers:  well they will only be “elected” within the very thinnest and almost “meaningless meaning” of this adjectival-verb/gerundive. Those put up for election will be: ……..??……..well the above bossy, ghastly hacks, of course  –  who else!! 

    This is not a particularly religious topic. Betty Boothroyd, in the quote above, speaks of the “bicameral role” of our Parliament. I suspect the bicameral minds of human beings play an important role in religion.

  • Edwards-j18

    Another problem is that of the relationship between Lords and Commons. The situation now is clearly defined by the Parliament Acts of 1911 and 1949. If an elected House of Lords is to be conceived of as somehow more “legitimate”,will not the demand go up that it should thus have more authority? And,if it does not,why should anybody of any quality be remotely interested in being a member of it?

  • stevhep

    It makes sense to have a second, revising, chamber in a parliamentary system. It also makes sense to have the members of that chamber accountable to someone other than themselves. Both the current system and any proposed alternative based on party list systems lack the element of accountability and the new system would have the additional lack of independence to add to (or subtract from) the mix. 

    Perhaps another approach would be to have the second chamber made up of people elected from corporate bodies or guilds. So many from industry, so many from the unions, so many from professional bodies like the BMA or the universities, so many from local government and so on. Each member would have a tenure of ten years or so and could seek re-election and a independent commission would have the task of deciding how many seats each corporate body had with proportions being changed as society develops. This should ensure an element of both independence and accountability within a chamber containing people with a wide variety of professional expertise and experience. It should also permit the possibility of non-Anglican faith communities having a guaranteed place within the nations legislature.

       

  • NewFranciman

    I always welcome the entirely predictable views of the telegraph at prayer or the catholic version of the British Israelites.  The vast bulk of members of the lower house are there because it is the method in the UK of becoming a member of government.  A backbencher is hardly even consulted on legislation and will never get power if he or she disturbs the government or the opposition hierarchy.  It is far too large since it lost its independence and it has become useless in controlling the government especially since the upper house is also partly or mainly nominated, see the Iraq war.  It is no more use than the French Senate.  Of course the upper house should be elected but by some different method to the lower house.  At least try and put the case for control of the executive and for democracy and limited government.  I should have thought the need was urgent especially at a time when religious freedom is really threatened. 

  • EndTimes101

    Reading (most- it was rather dull) of this article and then reading the comments certainly does give ample example as to why this country is going to hell in a handbasket. Most people seem to be living in a media induced trance state of denial.
    NEWSFLASH!!! Brussels makes over 80% of all UK laws, The European Union has supremacy over British Law, oh and its also worth remembering also that no law passed in Brussels has ever been successfully overturned by Parliament.

    Squabbling about who controls the scraps is ridiculous. You should be fighting to get your country back first!!!

    The EU is one of the ten regions of the world, as categorised by the Club of Rome, and built some time ago. One of the last pieces of this grand jigsaw of the world is being put into place currently (see middle east-new caliphate). Once that is done we shall have open world Government and the AntiChrist of history quickly following to running the show……

    Time to get your priorities right Christians, because it’s going to be a bumpy ride and you might want to pack some graces while you still can……..

  • Jonathan West

    So, you think that members of the House of Lords appointed by politicians are more representative than members of the House of Lords elected by voters. Priceless.

  • stevhep

    Having more and more elections, police commissioners, European presidents, Senators, does not necessarily equate to having more and more democracy particularly if turnout is small. The likely outcome of the current Lords reform proposals would be that a very small group of party organisers would produce competing lists of party hacks for whom a small percentage of the electorate would vote. The current Lords are not more representative than the proposed alternative but they are more independent which is something. A good second revising chamber would be representative, accountable and independent. Devising a system to meet these requirements probably requires more thought and a longer perspective than the current set of proposals can claim to have.

  • Alan

    Anybody who sits in a legislative assembly is, by definition, a politician, whether elected or not.  So the “450 more politicians” thing is irrelevant.
    My view is that, if we have a second chamber, it should be directly elected, but its powers should be carefully set out as being strictly a revising chamber, with the Commons having the final say.  What most attracts me is the proposal to elect them by STV (the best form of PR), as this will actually put LESS power in the hands of the party machines.  Voters can choose between several people from their favoured party.

  • Alan

    Obviously a conspiracy theorist.  Did you parade up and down Oxford Street with a “end of the world is nigh” sandwich board, by any chance?
    So it’s now “over 80%”, is it?  It seems to go up every time I hear it!

  • Jonathan West

    If you want them to be independent, then I don’t see how you can also make them accountable. Accountability is fundamentally a limitation on independence. Furthermore, the more independent they are, the less they are required to be representative of anybody but themselves.

    So, you have to make a choice. Do you want the members of the second chamber to be representative and accountable, or do you want them to be independent?

  • EndTimes101

     A typical knee-jerk mockery response from someone that does not even realise he has been brainwashed to react that way.
    Tell me Alan, do you normally arrogantly dismiss and mock people in other subjects you know nothing about? I doubt it because it would make you very boorish and very foolish when you might have got your (lack of) facts wrong.

    The Club of Rome is real and planned to split the world into 10 regions (kingdoms) – FACT
    The UN and Agenda 21 is real – FACT
    The EU is real and makes most of our laws – FACT
    Bilderberg is real and was behind the formation of the EU – FACT
    Unelected and secretive Central bankers are now taking direct control of countries (see Greece and Italy) – FACT
    I could go on but i fear your one of the people that won’t wake up to what is happening right before your eyes until you have lost everything and are spending a little down time  in a ‘re-eduction camp’.

    Putting this into a Christian context didn’t Our Lord say Satan is the Prince of this world? That his Church would fight the ‘world’ for souls until the final battle? Do you  not think then, the enemy might organise to bring about their plans as described in Revelations and by many of the prophets? Is the idea that people and organisations opposed to Christianity ( and the freedom and prosperity that it produces) might conspire in secret to bring about their plans so absurd? Do you really believe, i mean really, that all of history is purely accidental, that conspiracies don’t exsist. That we are where we are today but accident, that all over the Western world, no matter who we vote for, things keep moving in the same direction.  Do you actually believe what is in the Bible or do you just treat it as a bunch of nice stories for children?

    Unlike your last response………just THINK (and pray) about it.

  • stevhep

    Well that is the paradox of representative democracy. A person is elected to exercise their judgement and then runs the risk of being de-elected because voters disagree with their judgement. What is not in the model is representatives being accountable to party officials but independent of voters which is more or less what is proposed here. So I want the members to be independent of apparatchiks, accountable to some sort of voter body and with sufficiently long tenures to feel able to use their judgement on issues more often than they use it on electoral prospects.

  • GratefulCatholic

    Britons Beware, Proportional Representation has gotten New Zealand politics into a shocking state; List Members of Parliament are some of the weirdest creatures that society can throw up, they cannot be voted out and they only owe alleigance to party bosses (who oftentimes are also unelected).
    ++   

  • Parasum

    “To what conceivable question is 450 more elected politicians a rational answer? That is the conundrum which comes inescapably to my mind as I contemplate the government’s proposed Lords reform Bill.”

    ## Solution: abolish the Commons, and bring back the full house of hereditary peers, without the “lifers”. Better still, adopt Chesterton’s idea of “levelling up” rather than the current silliness of “levelling down”.

    “The Lords should be an executive unelected chamber of the informed, the experienced and the independently representative – accoutable to Her Majesty & the sworn Oath as a member of Her Parliament with duties and responsibilities to honour, defend and speak out for Her Majesty’s subjects while not being compromised/jeopardised by the whim of the electorate.”

    ## Exactly. And tell the Commons where to get off. An over-mighty Commons is no improvement on an over-mighty Crown. If Charles I could have his wings clipped, all more can the Commons. All this idiocy comes of forgetting that – as he pointed out at his trial – “a king and a subject are clean different things”. One has the authority of God to rule the nation, the other does not.

  • David Lindsay

    For those who keep such scores, the House of Lords has a higher proportion of women, a higher proportion of people from ethnic minorities, a broader range of ethnic minorities, and far more people from working-class backgrounds generally and the trade union movement in particular, than can be found down the corridor. More significantly, and despite the very hard efforts of successive governments, it also retains a broader range of political opinion, more reflective of the country at large.

    But that is under grave threat, both from the party machines and from the way of all flesh. The future composition of the House would be secured, at least in part, by providing for each current life peer, at least who attends very or fairly regularly, to name an heir, by no means necessarily or even ordinarily a relative, but rather a political and a wider intellectual soul mate. That heir would become a peer upon his or her nominator’s death, and would thus acquire the same right of nomination.

    If there must be an elected second chamber, then let each of the English ceremonial counties, the Scottish lieutenancy areas, the Welsh historic counties, and the traditional six counties of Northern Ireland, plus perhaps the London Boroughs and the Metropolitan Boroughs, elect an equal number. Say, six. Each of us would vote for one candidate, with the requisite number declared elected at the end. There would be no Ministers in that House, although they would appear before it for Departmental Question Times. And, which is perhaps the most important point of all, parties that contested elections to the House of Commons would be banned from contesting elections to the second chamber.

  • Alan

    You sound like one of those Biblical literalists who regard biblical texts as prophecies of current and future political events.  You are entitled to your views, but I do not share them (and it is very far from a Catholic view).  You are also obviously passionately anti-EU (whose founding fathers were a group of great Catholic statesmen).  I would merely point out that the EU can only move as fast as its elected governments will let it, and usually at the speed of the slowest. 

  • shithead

     First of all you mock me, then dismiss. Now you merely seek to categorise me into your preconceived narrow box and THEN dismiss me. Well it’s progress i suppose….(sigh).

    As for your points, well you have dismissively not addressed mine but i will attempt to address yours…..

    ‘You sound like one of those Biblical literalists who regard biblical texts as prophecies of current and future political events’

    Um, yes, i believe that biblical PROPHECIES (only a relatively small part of the whole bible text not ALL text as you say) describe current and future events, though it is you not i that would categorise the formation of the EU as a ‘political’ prophecy. I would stick to Revelations which i believe categorises the EU as kingdom, or power, but only 1 of 10. The Club of Rome made a nice map illustrating my point.

    Apparently if i am to believe you, ‘it is very far from a Catholic view’ to take the bible literally where appropriate. Really, it’s not Catholic to believe there are literal future events predicted and described in the bible? Im afraid your going to have to explain yourself further Alan if your going to make such grave statements …..

    Um, and while your at it, can you make a case for your implication that the EU is somehow CURRENTLY a good, noble and Catholic endeavour. Preferably without interjecting your unpleasant preprogrammed irrational/emotion responses to me personally as you already seem have already judged and categorised me (‘You are also obviously passionately anti- EU’) off the back of just a few sentences!

    I await your response with genuine interest…….

  • Alan

    As I understand it, you think the Book of Revelation predicts the EU, plus 9 similar groups of nations, and that this is somehow satanic.  I am aware of the Club of Rome as being a global think-tank, like countless other think-tanks, but do not see it as being particularly sinister. I should be interested to see your evidence as to how this is predicted in Revelation.

  • EndTimes101

     Hmmm, once again you fail to address my questions to you, but hey, no sneering at me this time, we have further progress!
    Im actually not engaging you to convince you to believe what i believe, because even to outline what i believe, the various passages in the Bible explaining and relating them to current events and plans in place for world government would take a heroic degree of writing. I am simply trying to take you from zero to one, which i believe has already been accomplished. By that i mean that instead of instantly dismissing someone you are brainwashed to perceive as a loony (anyone that mentions conspiracies it seems), you might actually listen first, and then think about what they say first before making a judgement. Reading some of you other posts you seem like a reasonable chap normally so you might want to examine why you engaged in the me the way you did. Im guessing it is out of character for you. I have witnessed the same effect from many other people too when this subject is raised. It is no accident…..
    That there is a plan to form some kind of world government, (new world order, global governance etc, it goes by various names) is no longer theory or speculative im afraid. It is talked about by the ruling elites of this world endlessly, through their various think tanks, working groups and foundations, the UN, NGO’s they have been working hard to make it come about since the days of the league of nations. 30 years ago you could get away with your thinking because everything was still hidden and we did not have instant communications and information at our fingertips….what is your excuse now?
    Anyhow, time to leave you Alan but if you google ‘JFK speech on secret societies’ and watch the youtube clip, you will realise that if i am a loony sandwich carrying nutter….im in good company.

    Good luck to you and God bless.

  • paulsays

    Number 1 you are ..(I assume, correct me if I’m wrong) an American, a conspiracy theorist, and believe that the end of the world will happen within your lifetime.

    Why on earth should we listen to your ‘take’ on UK democracy?

  • paulsays

    all I can say **sigh**

    please to God turn off your radio, turn off Glenn beck

    the UN is not out to get you

  • paulsays

    seriously, do me a favour before you berate me, for a month do this:

    stop listening to talk radio, to Glenn beck (or similar) and to Fox news

    watch the BBC for your news – it really is as neutral as you can get. They give you the facts, and you decide your opinion.

    Don’t let someone else, be it me, or your neighbour, or Glenn beck decide your opinions. Decide for yourself -surely that’s what liberty and freedom are all about?

    BBC news

  • Alan

    There may well be people who are planning for world government, secretly or otherwise, but I see little hope of it being achieved in the forseeable future, nor can I see how it can possibly be “satanic”.  Indeed, would it not be a desirable thing, as it would mean no more wars between states?  And where is it predicted in Revelation (or Apocalypse as Catholics prefer to call it)?

  • Alan

    Have just listened to the JFK speech, which simply opposes secrecy and (by implication) the Communist aim of world domination.  What has that to do with world government, let alone the Book of Revelation and the Antichrist?  You are adding 2+2 and making 10.

  • Jonathan West

    There’s a solution to this.

    1. The tenures can be moderately long but renewable, not the single 15-year term that has been proposed. Maybe 4-6 years.

    2. The election is by STV in multi-member constituencies. That means that there will be more than one candidate from each party, and the voters therefore get to express their wishes not only for their preferred party but also their order of preference for the candidates within that party. That way it is the voters not the party apparatchiks who get to choose the candidates. The party apparatchiks know full well that if a popular local candidate is deselected, then they can stand as an independent and have a good chance of getting back in – so they might as well have him inside the tent pissing out rather than outside the tent pissing in.

  • londoner

    Sorry to but into your conversation with Alan, but may I comment that what is in the Bible certainly is not a ‘bunch of nice stories for children’ unless you believe in reading your children horror stories!
    You sound a bit hysterical, with your ranting about conspiracy theories and literal belief in Satan. Think of your blood pressure! Nobody is plotting secretly to bring down Christianity (and what prosperity does it produce except for the Vatican?) We atheists are plotting quite openly to further the aims of the Enlightenment and educate people so that they finally relinquish belief in magic.

  • paulsays

    I for one do hope that Michael Gove’s proposal to bring in O-levels does not succeed, based on Mr. Oddie’s grasp of Mathematics I would say that they should be avoided at all costs…

    This is his exact quote which Mr. Oddie states twice through the text:
    ‘To what conceivable question is 450 more elected politicians a rational answer?’

    The facts are that the Lord’s, under the reforms will be reduced in size – from 775 members, to 450 (largerly elected) members. Thats a reduction of 42%. Not an increase of 450, no a DECREASE of 325 – don’t worry Mr. Oddie your only off by 775!

    I’m afraid I’m going to have to give you a F grade for mathmatics, and an F grade for informative journalism!

    I notice that Mr. Oddie frames his statement very carefully, he makes sure to include the word ‘elected’ when refering to ‘more’ politicians, giving me the impression he is using his position as a journalist to deceive the public.

    I would be very grateful if you could explain your phrasing Mr. Oddie, and if need be make a public apology, or take up a Maths GCSE to help you brush up. I’d be more than happy to give you free tuition. :)

  • paulsays

     There will be less under the new plans. 450 (mostly elected) rather than 775 as it stands now.
    Mr. Oddie’s writing is highly deceptive is it not?

  • paulsays

     I for one do hope that Michael Gove’s proposal to bring in O-levels does not succeed, based on Mr. Oddie’s grasp of Mathematics I would say that they should be avoided at all costs…

    This is his exact quote which Mr. Oddie states twice through the text:
    ‘To what conceivable question is 450 more elected politicians a rational answer?’

    The facts are that the Lord’s, under the reforms will be reduced in size – from 775 members, to 450 (largerly elected) members. Thats a reduction of 42%. Not an increase of 450, no a DECREASE of 325 – don’t worry Mr. Oddie your only off by 775!

    I’m afraid I’m going to have to give you a F grade for mathmatics, and an F grade for informative journalism!

    I notice that Mr. Oddie frames his statement very carefully, he makes sure to include the word ‘elected’ when refering to ‘more’ politicians, giving me the impression he is using his position as a journalist to deceive the public.

    I would be very grateful if you could explain your phrasing Mr. Oddie, and if need be make a public apology, or take up a Maths GCSE to help you brush up. I’d be more than happy to give you free tuition.

  • Lanfranc

    No, it’s simply clear. Unlike your attempt at obfuscation.

  • Lanfranc

    “I notice that Mr. Oddie frames his statement very carefully …”

    Yes, in fact with precision and accuracy. Which is the very opposite of “deception”, of which you accuse him. Why don’t you read what Dr Oddie actually said – rather than what you want to pretend he said so that you can berate him for supposedly having said it?

    You’re the one needing to make a public apology for your transparent attempts to mislead and misrepresent.

  • Lanfranc

    Saying the same thing twice doesn’t make it any more true. So when are we going to get that public apology from you for maligning and misrepresenting Dr Oddie?

  • stroika

    Easy answer. Repeal the House of Lords Act 1999 and get back to they way things were. If you want to go further stop making life peers and repeal the Parliament Act 1911 and the (possibly invalid) Parliament Act 1949.

  • paulsays

    I would think that the reason you are agreeing with Mr. Oddie is that you agree with him, that the House of lords reforms are not a good idea.

    Ironically enough, I too agree that House of Lords reform is not an especially good idea. However, I deeply resent those in public positions – with the power to influence those who do not read through with a fine tooth comb (who has the time?), that produce literature with the intent to twist the truth, or to deceive to influence people’s minds. …Even worse coming from a ‘journalist’..

    Ok, I’ll look at another quote from Mr. Oddie – the title in fact. Which is (or was) emblazoned on the front page of the site, and which maybe people will see and take as fact without reading the article.

    ‘Cameron, Clegg and Miliband want us to have hundreds more politicians (elected from candidates they will choose). So, how is that more representative?’

    Tell me please how on earth this title is NOT deceptive? It says that that ‘Cameron, Clegg and Milliband’ will give us ‘hundreds of new politicians’ – but negates to talk about the 775 politicians that they will remove beforehand!!

    How on earth can you not find this deceptive??

  • paulsays

     I posted twice – a mistake. The comments are often buggy and its hard to tell when they are working on not.

    I have posted a rely to your comment below.

  • paulsays

     …if I was more of a cynic I’d think you were Mr. Oddie posting under another name.

    You know just because you assume that I am a hard left atheist (none of which is true), doesn’t mean that I can’t be correct, and Mr. Oddie can’t be trying to deceive.

  • Lanfranc

    “just because you assume that I am a hard left atheist…”

    I made no such assumptions. Hard to know quite why you come out with that.

    If Dr Oddie is trying to deceive, he’s being pretty inept about it, stating things quite precisely, to the extent that you have to twist, misread and selectively ignore his words in your attempt to rubbish his mathematics. I assume that, being an intelligent man, if he wanted to deceive, he’d do a better job of it.

  • Lanfranc

    From your change of tack, I assume you accept (though you haven’t said so) that it is Dr Oddie’s arithmetic which is spot on, and yours which is way off. In that light, your misguided patronising attack on his sums doesn’t flatter you.

    As to your new line of attack, the whole point of the headline, and the article, is contained in the phrase “they will choose” – which you decide to ignore, thus distorting the meaning. In fact, you don’t appear to have understood that Dr Oddie is not inveighing against the total number of politicians but rather the representative character of the resulting institutions. Perhaps it’s the parentheses in the title you find confusing – take them out and the meaning is perfectly unambiguous. I don’t know how it works at the Catholic Herald but headlines are commonly written by subeditors. But regardless of whether it was Dr Oddie or a sub who put in the parentheses, their presence or absence can hardly sustain a charge of deception.

  • paulsays

    I was not sure what you believed, but you would need some issue (perceived or otherwise) to ignore the blatant twisting of facts to suite a message that Mr. Oddie pursues with relish

     - i.e. that all politicians are good for nothing – and the less of them the better, whilst doing a very poor job of actually informing the public about the changes that may occur.

  • paulsays

    If Mr. Oddie and the Catholic Herald an article which will deceive a large audience, then why cannot I make a few light hearted jibes at Mr. Oddie’s arithmetic? And now somehow I’m in the wrong? 

    I’m quite sure that Mr. Oddie can do the maths – he is just very poor at showing his working out – in this case missing out critical information, required for a true debate. My ‘new line of attack’ is the very same as the old – except in terms of the title being an even worse masking of the truth, and the pushing of an agenda. The reason I ‘leave out’ words in my quoting of the title are because they are nothing to do with the issue I am dealing with.

    The issue I am dealing with is that Mr. Oddie gives the impression that we will be left with more, rather than less politicians. The fact that party lists will be used and that terms will be 15 years is a different issue entirely. In fact on these issues I totally agree with him.

    However, just because you agree with someone, does not mean you must accept what is clear to you are misrepresentation of the facts to suit a political position. 

  • Lanfranc

    You dig yourself an ever deeper hole. Accusing a named individual, in a public forum, of deception is something you need either to be able to substantiate or to withdraw with good grace. Who is “missing out critical information” or “misrepresent[ing] the facts”? Not Dr Oddie – he supplies all the information and the context. It is you who repeatedly edit and omit in order to distort Dr Oddie’s words – and then justify doing so by reference to “the issue [you] are dealing with”, which wouldn’t even arise as an issue were it not for your edits and omissions. It seems that you at first carelessly misread the article and are now unwilling to admit it – turning your misreading into his misrepresentation. So who is engaging in deception here?

  • paulsays

    The ‘they will choose’ part in the title I ignore, because it is to do with Mr. Oddie suggesting that parties will take control of the selection process.

    I imagine that he is likely correct on this point, I do not, and am not disputing his opinion here in any respect.

    I am arguing that his article gives the impression to the public that the reforms will create more, not less politicians. Party influence on the Lords has nothing to do with this, and therefore there is nothing deceptive in not commenting on it/ ignoring it.

    If in the title inside the brackets was written: (after removing the majority of the 775 member Lords sitting today), then THAT would have been deceptive because it was on the topic of total number of politicians left after the reforms.

    Has that cleared things up?

  • paulsays

    People will read the article and come away with the impression that Britain will come away with more politicians after these proposed reforms than before.

    Here are the quotes I have an issue with:
    ‘Cameron, Clegg and Miliband want us to have hundreds more politicians (elected from candidates they will choose).’ (from title)

    ‘To what conceivable question is 450 more elected politicians a rational answer?’

    Both would be acceptable, if for a note saying how the actual net number of politicians will reduce. No such mention is found in the text – therefore anymore who has not investigated further, would think that this reform would create more politicans overall.

    On what basis are you denying that this is not the impression given?