“It was a virtuoso performance” – Viscount Astor on Lord Ashdown on Lords reform

“It was a virtuoso performance” – Viscount Astor on Lord Ashdown on Lords reform

…I am not persuaded that there is less wisdom in the 61 second chambers that are elected…

Why are you not persuaded, Lord Ashdown? How is an elected second chamber more wise than an elected first chamber?

It is not wisdom that we lack; it is legitimacy.

Of course it is not wisdom that you lack. This issue is not about what is, it’s about what might be.

“I would happily exchange wisdom for legitimacy”

Please tell me you’re joking, Lord Ashdown.
What this country needs is another large dose of legitimate stupidity.

First, our democracy now and our institutions of democracy in this country do not enjoy the confidence of our people in the way they did. That confidence is declining.

So the solution to a lack of confidence in something is more of the same?

It is said that this House does its job as a revising Chamber well… but is it constructed in a way that would prevent a Government with an overwhelming majority in the other place taking this country to an unwise and, as we now know, probably illegal war? No, it would not because it did not.

This is not a failing in how the house is constructed, rather it is a failing in its powers.

I cannot imagine that the decision to introduce the poll tax and the decision to take this country to war would have got through a Chamber elected on a different mandate and in a different period, or if there had been a different set of political weights in this Chamber from the one down the other end.

Your lack of imagination at the beginning of that sentence would appear to be resolved by the end: both would have passed had the second chamber been constituted with the same set of political weights — just as wrong but with added legitimacy.

And a different set of political weights would be just as effective at blocking ‘good’ legislation for party-political ends.


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