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LABOUR’S LATEST U-TURN ON THE HOUSE OF LORDS

There is widespread anger that former Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, was recently permitted to deliver a bumper round of life peerages to his pals, cronies and political allies. This is despite Westminster’s Privileges Committee concluding that he committed contempt of parliament on five occasions, including misleading the UK Parliament and the cross-party group of MPs who investigated him.


All outgoing Prime Ministers and Leaders of the Opposition hand out such favours, which is why the House of Lords is stuffed full of chums and former MPs, many of whom were actively rejected at the ballot box. There are currently 778 Lords who are legislators, second in number only to China’s National People’s Congress.


The House of Lords has no place in a modern democratic society. Unelected, unaccountable and used to confer and buy favour, it’s made even more absurd by including 26 Church of England bishops, the ‘Lords Spiritual,’ making the UK the only state apart from Iran to have unelected clerics in government.


The SNP has always rejected the very notion of an unelected and unaccountable upper chamber and SNP members do not accept peerages.


Recently, Labour said it was committed to abolishing the House of Lords, a promise it has repeatedly made for over a century.


There are currently 174 Labour peers. However, even people understandably sceptical about this re-heated promise were surprised at the complete u-turn on this commitment only few weeks later, when Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer revealed that in the event of a UK general election victory, he would appoint dozens of new lords. The promise to abolish the Lords, like so many of Sir Keir’s commitments, has been abandoned almost as quickly as it was adopted.


Disgracefully, whilst peers cannot stand for election to Westminster, they are permitted to stand for the Scottish Parliament, as seen by the election of Baroness Katy Clark of Kilwinning, a regional list MSP for West Scotland, whose House of Lords seat is held ‘in abeyance’ allowing her return to the Lords any time she chooses. This is despite her previous opposition to the Lords and ‘commitment’ to resign from it if elected to Holyrood.


In any democracy, an unelected and unaccountable chamber, shaping legislation which affects all of us, should be unacceptable.


The House of Lords has frequently been used and abused by UK political parties to reward donors and allies who are paid £342 tax-free per day just for turning up.


It’s no wonder the public is increasingly unhappy with this relic of a bygone age which recently charged taxpayers £7 million to renovate the chamber’s front door!


When Scotland secures independence, we’ll have the power to improve the lives of all our citizens with principles of equality, justice and fairness, centred on democracy transparency and accountability. In doing so, we’ll use the House of Lords as a template of what NOT to do. In the meantime, SNP members will continue to refuse seats in the Lords. It’s time, Labour, the Lib Dems and Greens did likewise.


ENDS



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