Labour’s big Sunday headline was their plan to abolish the House of Lords to “restore trust in politics”. The idea to replace the Lords with an elected upper chamber was pitched to contrast the party with successive Tory governments “handing peerages to ‘lackeys and donors'”.
Ignoring the fact that Blair put hundreds of Labour-supporting peers in the Lords and subsequently faced the Cash-for-Honours scandal – Sir Keir’s railing against lifelong jobs for mates looks pretty odd. Since taking over as Labour leader, he’s seen 18 Labour supporters into the upper house…
31 July 2020
22 December 2020
14 October 2022
This represents twice the number of new peers installed under Jeremy Corbyn, who himself gave chums like Shami Chakrabarti the ermine robes.
We also recently learnt that Rosie Cooper, who in September said she was going to resign as an MP, is refusing to stand down while she tries to secure a peerage. More than the Lords hypocrisy, Guido reckons Remainer-in-Chief Starmer will have a hard time restoring trust in politics with constitutional reform after his years of attempted Brexit-blocking…
Saintly Dominic Grieve has forced himself back into SW1’s consciousness this morning, with a typically level-headed and measured op-ed in The Times. He screeches that “Voter ID will be a nail in the coffin for democracy and MPs’ integrity”, going on to slam the proposals for having an “unfair impact on marginalised groups”:
“… without there being any real evidence that this has led to significant electoral offences through the personation of another voter.
Every vote matters, yet these new rules threaten to create a two tier electorate and discourage participation by the least advantaged.”
Grieve’s opening gambit is to accuse the government of “rewriting the rules to suit themselves” – something he had no issue with when trampling over centuries of parliamentary precedent to try and cancel Brexit…
Grieve’s grievances appear, however, to represent a major u-turn from the supposedly-principled MP. In 2001 the Labour government introduced voter ID to Northern Ireland, requiring photo identification from 2003’s elections onwards – something the government’s been keen to point to in selling the current elections bill. Not only did Grieve back the introduction of voter ID at the time – he called on the government to consider expanding the scheme to Great Britain:
“I believe that there is ample evidence that the degree of personation and fraud in elections on the mainland of Great Britain is a growing problem. I suspect that the House will have to tackle that problem in the near future… the Opposition welcome the measure and will not seek to divide the House. We appreciate what the Government are doing, and they have our support“
It seems Grieve’s only principle is that of remaining bitter towards his former party in the most prima donna way possible…
UK Supreme Court President Lord Reed has pushed back on campaign groups challenging legislation in the courts – typically by exploiting the loose definition of ‘differential treatment‘ – as a last-ditch effort to derail policies they don’t like. What a coincidence. Guido wonders which learned ears will been listening…
Writing in the Supreme Court’s judgement on the ‘two child limit’ legislation (which ‘restricts payment of amounts of subsistence benefit for children to the first two children in a family‘), Reed said:
“In practice, challenges to legislation on the ground of discrimination have become increasingly common in the United Kingdom. They are usually brought by campaigning organisations which lobbied unsuccessfully against the measure when it was being considered in Parliament, and then act as solicitors for persons affected by the legislation, or otherwise support legal challenges brought in their names, as a means of continuing their campaign.”
The legislature legislates, not the judiciary. Of course, some leftie lawyers are already squawking about how this is a “worrying” development because Reed has refused to drag a domestic court into what is ultimately a political question over the jurisdiction of the ECHR. Lawyers need to learn you can’t litigate every political decision you disagree with, try to win an election, like that lawyer Keir Starmer is trying…
Last night SNP MP Neil Grey became the second MP to resign from parliament in recent weeks, to fight the Holyrood election. While political debate yesterday focused on the failure of Tory Scots leader Douglas Ross to do the same, readers may have missed one technical outcome of the move: the final removal of John Bercow from all realms of public life.
In order for MPs to resign they must be appointed to ceremonial “offices of profit under the Crown”: either the Crown Steward and Bailiff of the three Chiltern Hundreds, or the Manor of Northstead. Grey was appointed to the latter, booting out its incumbent John Bercow who had been appointed after quitting as Speaker before the 2019 election. Bye-bye Bercow, Bercow goodbye!
Yesterday morning, the government published its response to the review into judicial review. In response, nuisance-maker-in-chief Gina Miller expressed “concern” at the Lord Chancellor’s description of Courts as “the servants of Parliament”.
“I am concerned, however, by the way in which the Lord Chancellor has chosen to interpret it, particularly his description of the Courts as ‘servants of Parliament'”
This is a conventional orthodox legal view. What Gina doesn’t appear to realise is Buckland was, in fact, quoting the submission of one Baroness Hale – the president of the Supreme Court who sided with Gina twice against the government (once around triggering Article 50, and again during the 2019 prorogation). Hale wrote:
“In the vast majority of cases, judicial review is the servant of Parliament. It is there to ensure that public authorities at all levels act in accordance with the law which Parliament has laid down. In only a very few cases does it operate to ensure that public authorities act in accordance with the common law. If Parliament does not like what a court has decided, it can change the law.”
Gina’s taking aim at the wrong target this time….
Today’s Guardian splashed on revelations the Queen asked ministers to change a proposed law to prevent her private wealth being revealed. The story itself is making a mountain out of a constitutional molehill, with yesterday’s story claiming Geoffrey Howe “appeared to have disclosed the role” of the Queen “in a previously unnoticed speech” in the Commons. “Previously unnoticed” is doing The Guardian an historic disservice, given the day after Howe made the speech they splashed the row on their own front page…
The Times reported specifically on Howe’s speech and the Financial Times wrote “A former senior Conservative Minister said he only came to deal with the Bill after it had been “discussed by the DTI and the Palace.” Give it another 45 years and The Guardian will once again re-cover this “unreported” story for a third time…