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9 March 2007updated 27 Sep 2015 2:32am

Lording it on the blogs

How to sort out the mess in Parliament's Upper House

By Owen Walker

This week one of the most innovative sides of British politics (blogs) looked towards one of the most ailing – the House of Lords.

With the debate centring on how MPs voted for what percentage of peers to be elected, there was much understandable confusion.

Iain Dale saw the fact that the 95 Labour MPs who voted no to 80% but yes to 100% were either voting on principle or doing it to ”bugger up the whole process, as they knew it would then produce a lengthy Mexican stand-off with the House of Lords.”

While Chris Paul saw another opportunity to call Dale’s analysis “twaddle”. He was certainly in the camp seeing those Labour MPs as voting on principle. He also produced some analysis of his own: “Only 28% of Tories backed the 100% option, which Iain says he favours, while 63% of Labour MPs did so. Time to cross the chamber?”

If British political blogs can be seen as an indicator of public opinion then it would appear a re-evaluation of the House of Lords could not come soon enough. Most Lib Dem and Labour aligned bloggers could hardly contain their joy at a democratic second chamber.

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In thundering raptures Kerron Cross proclaimed: “Some of us in this country have waited years for this historic moment; MPs from across the parties have voted by a clear majority to make the Upper Chamber fully elected; and, whatever the unelected Lords say, it is time the Upper Chamber was made electable and accountable.”

While Gavin Ayling took a more considered view: “I am half delighted and half apprehensive about the MP’s decision last night.

“Delighted because it is a step away from archane pre-democracy and apprehensive because of the mess this government has made of previous constitutional reform. Let us hope that this reform results in a substantially different second house.”

And in a more cautious response, Peter Black AM noted: “We also have to take account of the fact that the Lords in particular are experts in defending an entrenched position. Still, at least we are on the right path and moving forwards.”

And just when you though the blogosphere would break out in one harmonious cheer at the democracisation of the House of Lords, along comes Man on the street: “Personally, I think the hereditary system was the best.
It may not have been perfect but at least it worked.”

For anyone who missed the photo of a young Michael Crick making a rude gesture on Newsnight last week, Jonathan Calder has kindly come up with the goods.

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