Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Democracy in Iraq? We should have tried it at home first

What's the relationship between the War in Iraq and House of Lords reform? Well, perhaps little, except that they were both in the news last week and therefore provided some of the subject matter for my latest Column and accompanying Podcast.

But is there not a delicious irony in the fact that a Government which has preached so much about the need to export democratic values to other countries cannot, even after nine years in power, bring itself to support a democratically-elected Second Chamber?

"[Jack] Straw's plan for a 50-50 split between elected and appointed peers scarcely seems like a great step forward, especially when a 2003 plan for the Upper House to be 80pc elected came within three votes of gaining Commons approval. But the really amazing thing is that there should be any debate about this at all.

"As one newspaper's leader column put it this week: “The starting point for any debate about any legislature should be that is democratically elected. It therefore ought to be for the opponents of democracy to have to justify themselves.”"

Incidentally, the Lincolnshire Echo version of the column is now no more, having been summarily axed in an email sent out on Friday. Coming soon after the loss of my North West Enquirer column as a result of that newspaper going into receivership last month, it is a not inconsiderable blow.

They say these things normally come in threes, don't they?

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