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“The honours that shame Britain"
David Cameron has just created another 45 peers to sit in the House of Lords, bringing the total membership of the so-called “Upper House” to 826. And somewhat predictably, this latest list of new Lords include retired MPs, a number of MPs who lost their seats at the recent General Election, political fixers, various donors to the Conservative Party and corporate lobbyists.
Some of the newly ennobled former MPs had even been caught up in the 2009 expenses scandal, such as the Conservative Douglas Hogg who left the House of Commons after being pilloried for claiming taxpayers’ money to, amongst other things, clean the moat at his rather impressive country house.

Other new boys and girls on the block include James Lupson, a city financier, who has donated around £3 million to the Conservative Party; Ruby McGregor-Smith from the out-sourcing company Mitie whose “MiHomecare” branch has recently been exposed for paying its staff less than the minimum wage; and Spencer Livermore, a Labour “strategist” who worked for Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband.

As a life-long campaigner for democratic reform, I am appalled that such unelected and unaccountable individuals, appointed through political patronage, will be allowed real and far-reaching legislative influence.

Is it any wonder that the Scottish National Party has branded the new peers to be a “sorry list of rejected politicians, cronies and hangers-on with big chequebooks.”

It is certainly to be welcomed that there has been a massive backlash against the latest appointments from across the whole of the United Kingdom, both in the media and local communities.

One newspaper headline rightly screamed: “The honours that shame Britain … PM accused of stacking Lords with cronies in undemocratic outrage.”

Another newspaper resorted to sarcasm, telling its readers: “Selling peerages is illegal, and there is nothing to suggest wrongdoing on behalf of anyone in today’s list, but an academic study has shown that giving large sums to a political party does have a remarkedly positive effect on the chances of said donor having their talents recognised in an honours list.”

The present House of Lords is an out-dated institution that has no place in twenty-first century Britain. For the sake of our democracy, it must be reformed into a fully elected second chamber or abolished altogether.

Taken from Dick Cole's blog dated 29th August 2015.
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Published on 31st August 2015.

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