I NEVER imagined I would have much in common with Rebecca Long-Bailey, but this week she made a comment that had me nodding my head in agreement.
She is the Salford and Eccles MP who is considered the “Corbyn continuity” candidate for leadership of the Labour party.
As the standard bearer of the party’s hard left establishment she reckons that there was little wrong with Labour’s election campaign last month, going so far as to award Jeremy Corbyn 10 out of 10 for his leadership qualities.
This despite the fact that Corbyn led Labour into its fourth straight election defeat and its worst result since 1935.
According to this narrative it wasn’t Labour’s policies or leadership that were to blame, but instead it was all the fault of the stupid voters who got it wrong. The working classes of this country have badly let the Labour party down – not the other way around.
It reminds me of that old Bertolt Brecht joke about the government dissolving the people and electing a new one.
So blinkered and myopic is Long-Bailey’s analysis of Labour’s recent catastrophe that if she wins the leadership election we can expect more of the same – and at least a solid decade of Conservative government.
But even a stopped clock is right twice a day and Long-Bailey was absolutely correct when she suggested abolishing the House of Lords.
This feudal relic has become so bloated and ridiculous and such an affront to democracy that it has made the UK an international laughing stock.
There are now more than 800 members of the House of Lords, making it the largest legislative chamber outside the Chinese People’s Congress. But unlike its Chinese communist counterpart not a single member of the House of Lords is elected.
To put this into perspective, the upper house in the United States – the Senate – has just 100 members, all of them elected.
Why the UK needs more than 800 upper house legislators when the US, which has five times our population, can make do with just 100, is one of life’s great mysteries.
As if to make Long-Bailey’s point for her, the Conservatives elevated Zac Goldsmith to the House of Lords after the Environment Minister lost his Richmond Park seat last month to the Liberal Democrats by more than 7,000 votes.
Very sad for him personally I am sure, but hardly a big loss to the nation.
Goldsmith’s main claim to fame is losing a London Mayoral election and coming up with the bonkers idea of charging people to use supermarket car parks to save the planet – a guaranteed vote loser if ever I saw one.
But being comprehensively rejected by voters is no bar to political patronage – at least as long as the House of Lords exists. Goldsmith is apparently a good friend of Boris Johnson and that is all that matters.
So he turned up this week for his first day as a member of the House of Lords apparently wearing synthetic ermine. How apt! An ersatz lord, wearing ersatz fur, in an ersatz legislature!
In fact Johnson was relatively restrained in his appointments to the Lords, nominating just Goldsmith and Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan, who decided she wanted to carry on her political career without the bother of standing for election.
But, over the years, prime ministers of all political hues have packed the Lords with an unsavoury collection of failed politicians and dodgy party donors that have made the upper house a byword for cronyism, corruption and expenses fiddling.
According to former Lords Speaker Baroness d’Souza only a tiny minority of peers do any work, such as contributing to debates or sitting on committees in return for their £300 a day tax-free allowance if they turn up.
There are “many, many peers who contribute absolutely nothing but claim the full allowance” according to the Baroness, and she should know.
So I’m with Long-Bailey on this one if on nothing else.
There is even a suggestion, published in The Times newspaper earlier this month, that a proposal drawn up by Lord Salisbury, and currently being considered by Johnson and his team, is to reform the House of Lords to turn it into a ‘House of Regions’ to give a bigger say in Westminster to the north of England.
Sounds like a plan to me.