Sunday, February 01, 2009

The Other Lords Scandal Shamefully Ignored

The House of Lords holds a darker secret which threatens democracy than the scandals of Erminegate. Unelected, unaccountable untouchables are at the heart of government and escaping commons scrutiny, with major announcements coming from the 'Other Place'. 

The stench of corruption still fills the air as the Party of Sleaze tries to get to grips with the problem of its own making, promising action on criminal Lords, peers squirrelling away cash in cosy tax havens and corrupt peers quite happy to change and introduce laws for a wad of cash. 

New Labour's cronies have been hit by the iceberg of corruption. But that's just the tip of a much deeper and much more threatening iceberg looming under the surface. 

For over a decade New Labour has been digging itself into a squalid hole stuffing the place with its stooges. Blair's reforming zeal placed a whopping 386 life peers in the Lords, one more than Thatcher and Major put together. Not wanting to be out done, Brown has created 16 since he grasped the helm of the good ship democracy.

They're easy to spot from a lengthy list. Even when the ceremonial ermine is taken to the dry cleaners, people swank around with a fancy 'lord' in their title. Who would think academies mastermind Lord Adonis, now transport minister of the Crown, is really plain old Andrew Adonis? Shriti Vadera eats shoots and leaves as business minister, Lady Vadera. 

But the way government cronies have been rewarded with a posh title and privilege isn't enough. What is more sinister is the way a prime minister can give unelected cronies real power, where they are not subject to the democratic process, placing them at the heart of government, the cabinet and making major policy announcements in the House of Lords. 

Taking centre stage at the moment is of course Brown's deputy and business secretary, Lord Mandelson, who's burrowed deep into the heart of the cabinet and whose carmakers 'bail-out' was made, not in the commons but to unelected peers in the House of Lords. But later, communications minister, Lord Carter, repeated the affront to democracy with a major broadband statement - in the Lords. 

Erminegate with corruption in the highest of places rocks the foundations of democracy much more than the greed and abuse of power in the 'cash for peerages' scandal. 

But political stooges are rewarded with a "lordship"  to serve the Party and also act as a convenient way of getting non-elected pals into the heart of government and the cabinet. 

The blatant abuse of power marks a disturbing trend, with unelected chosen ones who MPs cannot hold to account, hiding away in the Lords behind a fancy title. 

The culture of greed and rewards is the hallmark of the New Labour years. Our democracy needs two Houses - one elected and the second to act only as a trusted back-stop for checks and balances and never the twain should meet.

Picture: The Sun

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