Time to replace Lords with youth represented PR? – Liberal Article

Time to replace Lords with youth represented PR? – Liberal Article

When I founded POI, I hoped it would hold the principle of allowing people to suggest new ideas. These ideas may be new and intriguing, however, sometimes in the responses we see why they could not be put into practice. So, in order to test this principle, let me suggest a reform for the House of Lords.

The Lords should be removed and replaced with a youth proportionally represented system. Let’s say the only people who can vote are under 35. The only people who can be on the ballot must be under 35. Additionally, the House would keep the same power. I.e. it can only postpone, not overturn laws.

Now, I am sure either my repliers or comments may point out gaping problems. These may be that this would create career politicians, will probably be Labour controlled and is unfair on older generations. All good points, but let me try and show you why I think this might be a good idea.

Firstly, it does create career politicians. But personally I don’t think this is a bad thing. It gives a good platform for up and coming politicians to practice. Too often we see people who pursue politics at a young age lost; being fed to the wolves. Who are the wolves? The Dominic Cummings and Jacob Reese-Moggs of the world who simply know how to play the big boy game better. This would create a proper junior league for budding politicians to actually make their way into politics. However, without having to slog it out for years screwing each other over.

Secondly, it represents a very underrepresented group; the youth. The average age of politicians is 50.  Why would anyone under 35 see any reason to vote for someone who has so little in common with them? Plus, let’s think of education reform. If you are 50, you personally would not have experienced education for over 30 years. How can you be able to make the best decisions on something you have not experienced in that extended period of time?

The UK has always been known for a low voting turnout amongst the youth. This is usually down to lack of candidates they actually support. The youth feel they aren’t represented and that their vote won’t make a difference. A youth voted and represented second house would fix this. We could finally debate what their true feelings are.

A large number of people advocate for proportional representation. This idea could give people what they want. I personally have a lot of concerns about PR. Keeping a stronger first past the post house would allow for bills to pass with speed, rather than causing constant unrest. However, it would still give some importance to the PR system.

Also, it would allow for debate between two different houses. This wouldn’t be enough to break the UK system as it does in America with House vs Senate. However, it would be enough for some compromise that would allow for the best bills to be made.

I know it is a wild idea, but you can’t say it doesn’t have merit. I can see the complications with it. However, does anyone really have a better idea for Lords reform?

Written by Liberal writer, Max Anderson

Point of Information

A good start. But why not go further with House of Lords reform? – a Labour Response

Mr Anderson is certainly correct in seeking to change the House of Lords. There is a multitude of reasons why this institution needs to be abolished. For example, the House of Lords is the only parliamentary chamber outside of Iran to have reserved places for religious leaders.

The heart of the issue for me is that I detest hereditary privilege. I was disappointed upon finding out about the stalled progress by Labour regarding Lord’s reform. They merely replaced most hereditary peers with life appointments. This led to the absurd situation after the liberal peer Lord Avebury’s death where the by-election that replaced him had an electorate of only three voters. One candidate did not even bother to write a manifesto.

In my view, it is obvious that hereditary privileges and titles should have been abolished a long time ago. This includes the institution of the monarchy. The most common way to enter the Lords is by the system of appointments, but this is hardly any better. The Lords resemble a retirement home for party donors and functionaries, rather than the pretence of it being a democratic chamber that it should resemble.

In terms of my colleague’s solution, a youth chamber would undoubtedly be better than the current House. Although this is a very low bar to overcome. I am sympathetic towards the idea of having a randomly selected second chamber drawn from a fully representative sample of the population, known as sortition. This has the advantage of overcoming the many hurdles that usually accompany a career in politics. These hurdles include having a public school education and/or an Oxbridge degree. A youth chamber would not be able to overcome these hurdles.

A truly representative sample of the population could not do a worse job than the current House. Yes, it would not include people with an elite background or a previous career in finance, but so what? I am generally suspicious of people who believe they are more suited to holding power over other people. A randomly selected membership would eliminate the idea that politicians have an elevated moral standing and reasoning ability than the general population. I believe this would be a better replacement to the House of Lords than what my colleague proposes.

Written by Labour Writer, Jack Walton

An interesting idea but reform to the current system could be much more beneficial – a Conservative Response

This is an excellent article by Mr Anderson. One that presents us with a very different approach, one I hadn’t considered before. Overall, I agree that increasing young involvement in the political system is necessary. However, I’m not sure this is the best way to do this.

This article highlights three issues: career politicians, the potential for a Labour-controlled house and that it could be unfair on the older generation. I wish to address these individually. Firstly, I agree with Mr Anderson that career politicians should not be viewed as a negative. Currently, there is a lack of opportunities for the younger generation as a frontline politician. Therefore, many are lost to other industries such as banking.

With regard to a Labour-controlled house, my issue here is not about party politics but about the prospect of any party holding a significant majority. This can be unhealthy for democracy. In the past, I have equally held issue with the Conservative majority due to hereditary peers. Also, I fear that by excluding the older generation from voting, this could bring up similar issues surrounding democracy.

The main premise for this kind of radical reform is that the current system is failing. Although I agree that change is necessary, I think that there is merit to having the second house as a more experienced, advisory house. The current House of Lords has the right idea but the wrong application. Therefore, this is an interesting idea and definitely worth considering. However, UK politics would benefit more from reform to the current Lords.

A house with a range of professionals across all industries would be better at optimising new laws. Having experienced individuals assisting with law-making guarantees that laws are applicable to the real-world. Get rid of the hereditary lords and bishops. Cut down the numbers. Finally, make this house into what it has the potential to be.

Written by Chief Conservative Writer, Fletcher Kipps

Max Anderson
Publisher/founder at | Website

I am currently in my second year of reading Politics at the University of Exeter. My first interaction with politics was at the tender age of four years old.

Jack Walton
Labour political writer at | Website

My beliefs in libertarian socialism were adopted gradually. Since a child I was immersed in the language of social justice and liberal politics from my membership of a progressive Jewish youth movement.

Fletcher Kipps
Chief Conservative political writer at | Website

I am an incoming third year undergraduate currently studying Politics, Philosophy and Economics at the University of Exeter. I am socially liberal, fiscally conservative editor here at POI. I have been fascinated by politics for many years, from PMQs to late night election results all which has led to the desire to study this at university.

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