These trade unionists want to overthrow the ‘creaking establishment’, starting with the House of Lords

House of Lords
Chris Jarvis

It’s no secret that our political system is out-of-date. And there are few things that show this as clearly as the unelected House of Lords.

So a group of trade unionists have come up with a plan to abolish it.

Politics for the Many

They’ve come together under a new campaign – Politics for the Many – headed up by Jeremy Corbyn’s former trade union advisor, Nancy Platts.

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In a recent article for Bright Green, Platts explained that seeking to replace the House of Lords was about ‘fixing the rot’ in the political system and “reforming Westminster’s creaking establishment”. She wrote:

For too long, Westminster’s political system has been for the few, and by the few. Nowhere is that clearer than in the unelected House of Lords.

Today, nearly 800 Lords – including over 90 hereditary aristocrats – can claim £305 a day tax-free, to vote on our laws for life. They can delay legislation, change laws, and use our Parliament as their personal palace.

Free from the scrutiny of the ballot box, we have seen scandal after scandal in this outdated second chamber. Millions of pounds are claimed in expenses each year by Lords who barely contribute. Many have a web of business interests, with peers given almost total free rein to lobby on behalf of others. And we have no way of kicking them out. Now a campaign is growing to fix the rot.

This echoes comments Platts made in an interview with The Canary in 2018. She explained then that Politics for the Many wanted to fix the UK’s “broken political model”, which she thinks needs “a complete overhaul”.

Pushing the labour movement

Politics for the Many’s plan to scrap the House of Lords involves working within the labour movement. It’s pushing for local trade union branches to pass motions supporting the abolition of the House of Lords.

In doing so, it’s hoping trade union conferences will agree supporting motions this summer. With the institutional backing of trade unions, it will be easier to reshape Labour Party policy on the House of Lords.

While Labour’s 2017 manifesto made some big commitments on political reform, it stopped short of endorsing the abolition of the House of Lords. Instead, it stated Labour would:

end the hereditary principle and reduce the size of the current House of Lords as part of a wider package of constitutional reform to address the growing democratic deficit across Britain.

Politics for the Many is already some way along the journey of securing widespread approval from unions. Currently the campaign is endorsed by high profile figures within the labour movement. Along with Platts, the campaign is supported by Billy Hayes – former general secretary of the Communication Workers’ Union, and Mark Serwotka – general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union.

Politics for the Many has big backers and a plan for change. It also has its eyes set on overhauling the political system. It could be a game-changer in the wider battle for political reform.

Featured image via David Holt – Flickr.

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