Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Opportunism, thy name is Uppal

You may have heard yesterday that the Conservative Party's effort to reduce the number of parliamentary seats and equalise constituency sizes was defeated yesterday, thanks to four Conservative MPs and every other party opposing it, including the Liberal Democrats.

On the face of it, equal constituencies and fewer MPs sounds reasonable. In practice, it's a Tory plot to gain themselves and inbuilt majority. It rides roughshod over local loyalties and identities too.

Needless to say, ultra-loyalist government today Mr Paul Uppal, my local MP, was ensconced in his usual position, half-way up the Prime Minister's colon. Needlessly, I should add: despite this apparently being the PM's most passionate point of principle, he didn't bother to turn up and vote. I'm quite certain Mr Uppal voted on a point of principle and not at all because the new boundaries would dump a lot of those nasty poor slum voters and replace them with rich rural Tories from the outlying villages. Mr Uppal's majority is, of course, 691.
On that point of principle about the democratic deficit, is there not an irony in the fact that Labour and Liberal Democrat Members are often inspired by the Chartists, who voted for equal-sized constituencies? There is a perverse relationship today, in that those Members are going to go through the Lobby and vote to retain the disconnect and the democratic deficit.
This is a little rich from Mr Uppal. A number of measures to reduce the 'democratic deficit' have been proposed by the Liberal Democrats and assorted Labourites in the recent past. Indeed Mr Uppal has gone through the Lobby voted against the Alternative Vote, which would have gone a long way to reducing the 'democratic deficit' by making sure that any elected MP had the positive support of 50% + 1 vote of the turnout. (Mr Uppal received 40.7% of the vote, while his Labour opponent managed 39%.  Only 68% of the electorate bothered turning out).

Other 'democratic deficits' Mr Uppal appears not to mind include the House of Lords: not only is he opposed to a democratically-elected Upper House (surely not because he thinks he may one day be awarded the ermine?), he supports the Prime Minister's efforts to boost its numbers to almost 1000 peers. That's right: Mr Uppal wants 600 MPs elected by you and me, and 1000 unelected legislators – the descendants of robber barons, rackrent landlords, the upper management of a tiny religious sect known as the Church of England, party donors and other assorted hacks – who get a say in law until the day they die without ever having to face the judgement of the people.

And he lectures us about a political 'disconnect and the democratic deficit'. The man's an embarrassment.

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