Sunday, March 11, 2007

Legitimacy Blindness

Dodgy bus stop

He just won't go away, will he.

Miguel Bus Stop doesn't like the way his ex-colleagues voted for a fully democratic House of Lords. He says:

"The Tories are afraid that if they do not advocate a fully democratic second chamber you will doubt whether David Cameron has really modernised them.

The watchword that pusillanimous MPs use to disguise their fear is “legitimacy”. The Lords will lack it unless the public chooses its members, they say. That view should be challenged. Is the chief executive of BP or the astronomer royal or the chief constable of Merseyside illegitimate because not elected? Legitimacy can be conferred through different procedures. The fact that the office holder is qualified and suitable normally helps to confirm that legitimacy. It is only in democratic elections that qualifications and suitability need play no part whatsoever."

Er... what???

Look, Miguel, we don't need to elect the chief exec of BP because we have an even better control over him. You see, he's just a humble commodity supplier, and all we want from him is cheap uncontaminated fuel. If he doesn't give it to us, we simply vote with our wallets and go elsewhere. We have no idea what supposed "qualifications" he's got, and we don't care: we judge him on results, and if he doesn't deliver, we have an effective and immediate remedy.

Yes, yes, he obviously has to obey the law. And yes, he must safeguard BP's corporate "reputation". And as a matter of fact, he's appointed by the board of BP, who are elected by shareholders, not customers. But the key point about our relationship with him is that we punters hold the whip hand.

As for your unelected Chief Constable, I do question his legitimacy. We've blogged ad nauseam that the police have become wildly unaccountable to the communities they serve, and we desperately need locally elected sheriffs. So he's a Big Problem, not an example of something that's working to everyone's satisfaction.

To be frank, if you really believe your own argument, you're even more out of touch than even I'd imagined.

Because out here, we're fed up to the back impacted wisdom teeth with having so little control over our overbearing government. We're fed up with supporting 800 unelected peers in their splendid London club so they can rule over us. And we're especially fed up with having superannuated MPs- often rejected by us- decked out in ermine and plonked down on the red benches so they can go on interfering in our lives for ever.

Now I wonder why an almost superannuated, and certainly rejected, ex-MP would be arguing for an unelected second chamber?

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