Thursday, July 13, 2006

If it keeps on raining...

Lord Levy has been bailed, having been arrested by the Metropolitan Police in the course of their inquiry into the 'cash for honours' allegations.

Although Levy complained that the police had 'over-reacted', I was wondering on what basis could a New Labour believer possibly have for complaining about this? If indeed a crime has been committed, is this not the very government who would insist that we should be tough on it? And further, if the police are somewhat over-enthusiastic in their investigation of it, this is a price worth paying to ensure a wider justice is served. Is this not the sort of thing we are continually being told?

And assuming that even if no criminal charges are brought, this sort of bad-headline generating thing would surely be enough for the government to attempt some bleaching of the stained and jaded garment of their public image? Then we could expect them to be true to their credo and be tough on the causes of crime. This would mean being tough on the Prime Minister's impressively medieval powers of patronage.

'Reforming' the Lords to make it less aristocratic has served to make its plutocratic nature more obvious - and more significantly, the absence of inheritance has made the connection to central government more immediate. Their Lordships always owed their position to Crown patronage; increasingly they are indebted to it as it is exercised by this Prime Minister. You might think they'd consider actually implementing the democratic reform that they promised in opposition but haven't delivered on. Yet after nine years in power, the Leader of the House is seeking to 'build a consensus' around the idea of quite literally doing it by half-measures.

Not that a full-measure would cure all because at base it's about the need for the Labour Party to raise money. In this context, some often attempt to dismiss these present difficulties by raising the spectre of the old relationship between the Labour Party and the trades unions, '70s-style. But it's getting to the point where the old 'beer and sandwiches' axis of corporatism is looking like a positively subtle relationship compared to what we have now.

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