The Dissolution Honours List is a gross insult to the electorate. In a swollen list of mostly time-serving nonentities there are 26 new Conservative peers, 11 Liberal Democrats – more Lib Dems in this single infusion into the House of Lords than the eight MPs they have in the House of Commons – and eight new Labour ennoblements.
But the nearly 4 million UKIP voters who have been fobbed off by a travesty of an electoral system with just one MP have not been awarded a single nomination to the upper House to compensate for their scandalous under-representation in the Commons. At present UKIP has just three peers, none of them nominated by a Labour or Conservative prime minister but simply established members of the upper chamber who elected to take the UKIP whip out of personal conviction.
One of them, Lord Pearson of Rannoch, was outraged by early rumours that the Liberal Democrats, who already had 102 peers, were about to be allocated more, despite their comprehensive rejection by the electorate in May. He tabled a number of questions in Parliament asking if the Government “plans to address the disparity in representation in the House of Lords between the Liberal Democrats and UKIP”.
When he wrote to the Prime Minister on this issue, David Cameron replied: “I have committed previously to keeping the party peers under review and will, of course, give further consideration to the points you raise when we come to consider recommendations over the course of this parliament.”
Dave has now done so, with the results we see. The Liberal Democrats, who received 2.4 million votes, or 7.9 per cent of the popular vote at the general election, have just been given 11 new peers, bringing their representation up to 113. UKIP, which received 3.8 million votes, or 12.7 per cent, received no peerages at all. If the allocation of peerages had been made on proportionate share of the popular vote, then the Liberal Democrat award of 11 peerages would have implied that UKIP should have received 18. Instead, a round zero is the allocation to UKIP.
Could anything better illustrate the covert, across-the-aisles alliance of the three legacy parties? One large, consensual social democratic party, posing as three independent ideologies, has conspired to restrict UKIP’s parliamentary representation, across both houses, to just four individuals. If the legacy parties, and Dave in particular, felt the slightest embarrassment about benefiting from an extravagantly unjust electoral system that gives 3.8 million UKIP voters just one MP and 1.4 million SNP voters 56 Commons seats, pending reform of that system at least some minimal compensation might have been offered by giving UKIP some extra peers.
But the political class – and, again, Dave in particular – is shameless and blatant in its contempt for an electorate it believes it has permanently imprisoned within a pseudo-democratic electoral system that ensures the establishment agenda will always prevail over the popular will. A “net” increase in immigration to a rate of a third of a million legal incomers per year, in flagrant contradiction of Dave’s lies about controlling the problem, is sufficient testimony to the cynicism, arrogance and complacency of the liberal political class. But the carve-up over peerages is a further illustration.
Look at those who have been selected for the ermine. The appointment to a seat in the Lords of Douglas Hogg, who infamously cleaned his moat at the taxpayers’ expense, is two fingers to the electorate from the entitlement-flushed Etonian in Number 10. And what does the ennoblement of Anne McIntosh, former Conservative MP for Thirsk and Malton who was deselected by her own constituency association, say to the despised and dwindling Tory rank and file, other than “Spin on this”?
On the Labour Party list Peter Hain, who resigned from Gordon Brown’s cabinet in 2008 after failing to declare donations to his campaign for Labour’s deputy leadership, now sports a coronet. So does Spencer Livermore, the grand strategist of the Ed Miliband kamikaze campaign last May, proving that nothing succeeds like failure. When the peers’ list is added to the honours awarded to those further down the food chain – knighthoods, CBEs, etc – there are no fewer than nine Government Special Advisers, all gonged up by a Prime Minister who notoriously refuses to take advice from anybody.
Cronyism has always been endemic in the honours system, but this is different. This peers’ list aggravates a constitutional crisis that is fast diminishing public respect for and acquiescence in the parliamentary system. When 4 million voters are accorded just one MP and no peerages, the discrimination against UKIP, the sole party that has attempted to articulate the views of the British public, plainly indicates that our current political system is no longer fit for purpose. The public must vociferously voice its rejection of this travesty, at the ballot box and in every other forum of opinion.