22 Jan 2009

Join Baron Booth of Bread Street and become a virtual peer

Some will remember a while back I purchased a peerage - see here and here - and more on reform here - this was to highlight the absurd situation re the 'cash for peerages' row: 17 out of the 22 individuals who have donated more than £100,000 to the Labour Party have received an honour; all but one of the individuals who have donated more than £1m have received a peerage. This is totally unacceptable in a modern democracy.

Photo: Press coverage of Baron Booth of Bread Street

Well you may have seen in the news last week that Gordon Brown has now appointed the Banker Mervyn Davies to be a Business Minister. The Prime Minister of the day can do this, without any scrutiny, on a whim. What's more, if the person he wants to appoint is not an MP, "convention" dictates that he must make that individual a member of the House of Lords.

Mervyn Davies replaces Digby Jones in government. Jones was only a minister for just a year, yet gets to keep his peerage for life. We think this system is a nonsense.

Elect the Lords was formed in 2004 to lobby the House of Commons to support a predominantly or wholly elected second chamber. This is now official government policy but progress on this issue remains frustratingly slow. For me only a wholly elected chamber would suffice. Anyhow Unlock Democracy is keeping up the pressure, and need your help.

Since the "Loans for Lordships" scandal erupted a couple of years ago they have been quietly selling "Virtual Peerages" to raise money for campaigns and to allow people to show their support for reform in a novel way. They are now stepping up that campaign.

A virtual peerage won’t get you a seat in the House of Lords, but your donation will help them in their campaign for an elected second chamber. You will be sent a “certificate of inauthenticity” and - with your permission - your name will be added to their Virtual House of Lords. So if interested go to the Unlock Democracy website.

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