Friday 22 January 2021

Campaigning for an elected second chamber would impede reform of the Commons

An elected second chamber, even with proportional voting, would make our political system less, not more, democratic. Campaigning for a proportional voting for a second chamber with limited powers would distract attention from the critical goal of achieving proportional representation in the Commons, where the real power lies. It would increase the patronage of the major political parties and, by multiplying the number of elected members, further undermine the status of the elected Commons. A powerful second chamber would be worse, leading to periodical deadlock and horse trading, and would make it even more difficult than at present to achieve progressive reforms and modernisation – as the tragedy of Obama’s presidency so clearly demonstrates. Like Denmark, Norway, Finland and New Zealand, the truth is we have a uni-cameral parliamentary system – albeit a deeply flawed one. We should tackle the flaws and make the second chamber genuinely representative of the population by a combination of lottery and selection by a commission which is impartial and independent of the political parties, not replace it with a bi-cameral system, which experience around the world demonstrates would make the situation even worse than it is at present.