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Written on March 8, 2005, and categorized as Secret and Invisible.
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It’s one of the anachronisms of British Government that when you are in the House of Commons (the law-making chamber) you don’t refer to it by it’s normal name. Instead, convention demands that you call it “this place” and the House of Lords (the revising chamber) “the other place”.

Just occasionally I have reason to be proud of the way our eccentric system works. Having observed the workings of the many bastardisations of the Mother of Democracy, it often seems everybody else got the modern version, capable of dynamism, without fancy dress, efficient, contemporary and sleek, whereas we watch bizarre rituals couched in language so dated that even the well-educated struggle to follow, propping up a system which seems calculated to retain Government as the preserve of the elite, maintained by the elite, for the elite.

Yesterday, I gave great thanks for our cobbled-together, semi-reformed, conservative House of Lords, as it stood up against the so-called “terror” laws being proposed by the Labour government for which I voted. These laws would have meant that no evidence need be produced to restrict someone to house arrest, with tagging, monitored communications, no internet, supervised visitors.

Basically, this vote was against giving politicians the power to determine who gets locked up.

The UK’s highest court, the Law Lords, recently threw out the Government’s case to keep foreign prisoners indefinitely without trial in Belmarsh prison, UK’s Guantanamo, as it clearly restricts their human rights. This rejection of the UK Government’s plans following on from that ruling was comprehensive, well argued, and substantial, thanks to the stature of the people who stood up for all our rights. Baroness Kennedy (my pin-up for March) quoted Martin Luther King – the passage about doing what is right, rather than what is politic, as they all voted for their consciences. Tony Blair’s own mentor Lord Irvine, who first employed him in Law, even voted against him.

By taking this stand, these people may have just preserved your right to be shown the evidence for any crime of which you stand accused, and be given thereby the chance to defend yourself. I hope so.


Lord Irvine, Lord Acton, Lord Ahmed, Lord Borrie, Lord Clinton-Davis, Baroness David, Lord Grantchester, Baroness Hayman, Lord Judd, Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws, Baroness Mallalieu, Lord Mitchell, Lord Morgan, Lord Morris of Aberavon, Lord Plant of Highfield, Lord Prys-Davies, Baroness Rendell of Babergh, Lord Rogers of Riverside, Lord Sheldon, and Baroness Turner of Camden.

And to end, this Tuesday morning, my own favourite Martin Luther King quote:

The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists
who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood.

Martin Luther King Jr., “Strength to Love”

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This thing has 3 Comments

  1. ignorati
    Posted 8 March, 2005 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    Hurrah – The Lords are doing their job. The need for a second chamber with power is highlighted by yesterday’s actions to curtail the megalomaniac tendencies of current government ministers. Their prayer – oh Blair – remember though art mortal and someday a politician you disagree with may be in power. He may have got there on the back of whipping up hatred of minorities and he may use these powers to put you under house arrest. Come on there is a good selfish reason to change your mind.

    Unfortunately the more likely scenario is that the government will use this to further build on their strategy of attacking the Lords on the basis that they are not democratically elected. (Funny that – another attempt to prevent independant scrutiny of a government).

  2. Kris
    Posted 8 March, 2005 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    I know very little about UK politics and the chambers of power. But I just wanted to comment on what I’ve seen on C-SPAN. I love the way issues are discussed and debated with passion and participation by all. Much more interesting, and maybe more effective, than our very formal, low-key, well-rehearsed, monotone speeches. If I listened very carefully, I’m sure I would hear sounds of snoring in the background.

  3. Muhammad
    Posted 8 March, 2005 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    i agree. Nice Quote. cool blog.

    Keep at it.


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