Tuesday, June 30, 2015

UKIP members of Parliament

By members of Parliament I do not mean just MPs but peers as well who are members though not of the elected House. I am not going to argue in this posting about the need for a non-elected House as well as an elected one in order to keep some kind of a constitutional order even now when we are members of the European Union and, especially, once we are out of it.

As we saw in the General Election in May UKIP came third with 3,881,099 votes that constituted 12.6 per cent of the vote in a turn-out that may have been the highest since that fateful 1997 election but was still only 66.1 per cent. For that UKIP got one seat and there is a great deal of understandable dissatisfaction around.

It is impossible to discuss matters rationally with most members of that party as too many of them belong to the Farage Cult but the truth is that UKIP conducts elections and political campaigns as a Continental party - it is all about the party and the leader not the local candidate. These may crop up from time to time but they are given less pictorial space on UKIP leaflets than the Dear Leader. All too often one does not even know who they are. I consider myself to be something of a political geek but I did not know who the UKIP candidate was in my constituency until two days before the election.

We are getting some (ever less) traction in the demands for an electoral reform to some form of PR system but that is not very likely to happen any time soon. It is, as it happens highly entertaining to hear the left-wing anti-austerity demonstrators shouting for it. Had we had PR this time round we would have now had a Conservative/UKIP government with possible support from the DUP though, obviously, there is no reason to suppose that people would vote exactly the same way under a different system. Now, I could actually live with that government but what would the lefties say? They are convinced that UKIP is the epitome of all that is right-wing and, therefore, evil. (Actually they are not either but a rather muddled statist, socialist and protectionist party who seem to have morphed themselves into the Labour Party of the 1950s.)

The point is that four years ago we had a referendum on the question of the electoral system and the people of this country voted quite decisively in favour of keeping the first past the post system. Is UKIP recommending that we should keep asking people over and over again at not very long intervals until we get the answer they want? There is another organization out there that takes the same attitude and the fact that UKIP and it (let it remain nameless) have a similar attitude to the People's Voice, despite being the "People's Army" proves what I said above: UKIP is essentially a Continental party in its political behaviour.

Which brings me to the question of House of Lords membership. There are now three UKIP peers and not one of them was appointed as such - they left the Conservative Party and lined up under UKIP colours. The question is should this be rectified or should we go on acquiring endless Lib-Dem peers even though their support in the country has collapsed. This is of particular interest since the Lib-Dems have long been in favour of an elected Upper House or, at the very least, one that somehow reflected electoral preferences. Will they now resign most of their seats and let UKIP have them? Is that a squadron of piglets I see taking off?

Lord Pearson of Rannoch has been asking questions on the subject as can be read on page 7 of this document.

Question no 1 was:
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they plan to address the disparity in representation in the House of Lords between the Liberal Democrats and Ukip, in the light of their respective shares of votes in the recent General Election.
Question no 2 was:
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they plan to recommend more Liberal Democratic peerages to Her Majesty the Queen; if so, why; if not, why not.
Question no 3 was:
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they plan to recommend any Ukip peerages to Her Majesty the Queen; if so, why; and if not, why not.
As it happens the Labour peer, Lord Campbell-Savours also showed himself interested in whether there are going to be any more Lib-Dem peers:
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the proportionality objective on appointments to the House of Lords as set out in the agreement made by the governing parties in the 2010–15 Coalition agreement remains an objective for Her Majesty's Government over the next five years.
A good question. The situation has changed somewhat.

HMG is not committing itself to anything as Baroness Stowell of Beeston made clear:
Appointments are a matter for the Prime Minister. Any appointments will be vetted for propriety by the House of Lords Appointments Commission.
Something of a conundrum for the PM, I would say, given those electoral results. Of course, he could appoint lots of Cross-Bench peers or, even better, declare a moratorium on any more appointments for the rest of this government's existence but, somehow, I do not think he will do either of those.

So, any suggestions as to who should be the first appointed UKIP peers?

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