I was listening to more discussion of the supreme court bill on the radio yesterday and reflecting on how very far the Labour party has fallen in my estimation these days. I am all for the idea of the separation of powers and normally, with the Lib Dems supporting the bill as well I'd be happy to dismiss Tory warnings that it'll reduce the independence of the judiciary as scaremongering, especially as I haven't heard anyone explain how it will. But I just can't imagine David Blunkett sponsoring anything to make the judges more independent right now and so I find myself suspicious. I just don't trust them to do something like this properly. I feel torn - if sending it to select committee is really a measure to allow more consultation on the bill, as the sponsors of the amendment claim then that's a really good thing. On the other hand, I can see why the government suspect that it's just a plan to can the whole thing, given how rarely it's used and how it was used last time on the hare coursing bill (nearly 30 years ago). Now, the only government I can imagine trusting to make this kind of legislation fairly is the Lib Dems, and then probably only early on in their term before I become disenchanted with them. It's not a good position because we do need separation of powers.
I'm similarly ambivalent about the plans for the House of Lords. On the one hand, patronage is not a good thing for the political system, in my opinion. On the other, the Lords has benefited a lot from it. It's members tend to be well respected experts in their fields - lawyers, expert politicians, even a few scientists (e.g Robert Winston) and philosophers. The existence of the cross benchers, the history of the house of commons suggests, would be difficult to maintain in an elected house for example, which would be a great shame - I think that our law making benefits from having a partially apolitical voice involved. In the end, I'm not sure that election is a very good way to choose leaders - you tend to get those who are great at talking the talk, but not necessarily those who'd be best at walking the walk. And with regular elections your elected representatives are always concious that they've got to get re-elected in a few years time which doesn't encourage them to make long term decisions. So I don't think I'd like to see an all elected house - one of the proportional solutions would probably get my vote. And at least the appointments process would come out of the hands of Downing Street to a commission. In the mean time, I'll just have to try and have a brainwave of a better way to choose our politicians than electing them - I could lead the next revolution :)
Oh, and while I'm on current affairs, I'd just like to respond to the interviewer who said to Lord Sainsbury "How can you justify having a consultation and then ignoring what 90% of the respondents say?". If 90% respond in one way but can't actually give any credible reasons or arguments to support their position and the other 10% can back up what they say with data then you'd be a fool to go with the 90%. The majority is not always, or even often right.
I've also started collecting icons from a few of the many many icon communities around, so this counts as a gratuitous icon post for this one - there's a couple of other ones too if for some reason you're interested.