Thursday, March 08, 2007

Heaven's Waiting Room (although some of them are headed in the other direction)

So the House of Commons has backed a fully elected House of Lords. About bloody time too - and fair dos, kudos to Jack Straw for getting this through the chamber with some momentum behind it - something the late Robin Cook didn't manage.

I'm torn between whether to be optimistic about this or not. I support a fully elected chamber, so my ears picked up last night when I saw on the ten o'clock news headlines that MPs had backed 100% elected. Some of the gloss was taken off when i heard that some MPs voted for 100% to muddy the majority in favour of a 80% elected house: a childish tactic that does muddy the waters. However, there are other more significant hurdles, particularly the fact the Lords will support 100% appointed and the fact that there is no agreement over the electoral system to be used.

On balance I think I'm positive about reform, as the Commons has given a clear message that it wants 80% to be elected, and a result like that was necessary for reform to keep going forward. But it's a long road ahead and many things can go wrong, so I'll believe it when it happens.

Also, I had a quick look at Hansard to see how people voted. It's actually quite hard to work out people's motivations. Just as an example, if an MP backed 100% elected but not 80% elected was that because s/he was against any appointed members? Or is it down to playing parliamentary tactics? Or is it that they don't like hybrid chambers with appointed and elected members (as it involves two-tier membership)? Quite a few MPs did this, including my MP David Clelland. Deputy Leader candidate Hazel Blears did this as well, I think I'll email her to see what she says as her answer might affect my vote.

Incidentally, Tom Watson makes fun of Hazel Blears selling branded wall clocks on her website. Don't all rush at once...



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