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Lords Reform: Why the Man in the Pub Needs It

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Whenever I start a campaign I ask myself a simple question - what does this mean to the man in the pub? The sense that a cause must be made relevant to others is often somehow lost by the policy wonks of Westminster. The latest casualty of this phenomenon is Clegg's latest crusade on Lords reform.

The man in the pub wants to know how this will make a difference to him.

First of all it means laws in this country are more likely to approach want he as an individual wants. When you give people more power at the ballot box you give them more power in government. Denying that privilege to citizens poisons our democracy.

It also means prime ministers can't rig the jury when a new government takes office. Cameron in his first year appointed over a 100 new peers. Considering that only around 400 people sit in the House of Commons in an average session he's making his life immediately much easier. The prime minister is in effect making sure the bills only get the scrutiny he wants. Welfare reform may have still exploded in his face but this is despite a back-room system of appointments not because of it.

For the man in the pub it means less power to the PM and more power to him.

The tired argument wheeled out at this stage is that this would fill the lords with professional politicians. Ironically that is exactly what you get right now - Lord Lamont and Baroness Warsi are both failed politicians. Despite the electorate kicking them out how did the political establishment respond? It gave them both jobs for life.

For the man in the pub it means the abolition of a jobs-for-mates culture in Westminster and more of what he likes and less of what he doesn't in government.

Another argument wheeled out is the high level of knowledge and expertise of the upper house. The reality is a less-than-inspiring selection of so-called experts, many of whom, very pointedly, have made significant contributions to the party coffers. The rest of the procession are retired MPs; civil servants for whom a peerage is part of the pension package and a rather nasty gaggle of hereditaries. For every Robert Winston there are nearly a 100 people there because of a family name. For every Lord Sugar at least 200 whose only exclusive knowledge is knowing the right names in Whitehall.

For the man in the pub this means an end to closed-shop politics and end to the scandal of Westminster's in-house pension racket.

To the man in the pub it would mean the political establishment would be put on trial. Detractors argue Lords reform doesn't engage the public. Let's see the 90 hereditary peers argue the divine right of kings, let failed politicians proclaim that elections give people less of a say and lets see if the Lords and Ladies of the realm can argue in favour of unearned privilege.

Because I think the man in the pub would crucify them.

Around the Web

Reform of the House of Lords - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Clegg defending Lords reform plan - BBC

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Draft House of Lords Reform Bill - UK Parliament