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by Our News Desk
THE sordid scandal enveloping Blairite peer Lord Sewel shows that the House of Lords has no place in a modern democracy, campaigners said yesterday.
The peer, whose career in the Lords has focused on promoting the expansion of the neoliberal European Union and the Nato military alliance into eastern Europe, resigned as deputy speaker of the house on Sunday after a video emerged appearing to show him snorting cocaine with prostitutes.
In the footage, he complains of having to pay £1,000 a month for a central London flat — despite receiving £36,000 a year in public money to maintain a second home in London on top of an £84,500 salary — and refers to other peers as “right thieves, rogues and bastards.”
He also makes racist remarks about Asian women and bad-mouths a string of politicians.
“Every year there are stories like this about our upper house and every time the need for reform becomes more pressing,” warned Electoral Reform Society deputy chief executive Darren Hughes.
“We can only get real accountability through an elected chamber, not through the cosy arrangements that exist at the moment.”
Communist Party general secretary Robert Griffiths went further, calling for the outright abolition of the Lords.
“An institution based on the hereditary principle and patronage, in a class-divided society such as Britain’s, is bound to produce a chamber full of ‘thieves and rogues,’ as he puts it,” Mr Griffiths said.
“This confirms the need to abolish this rotten chamber and its 400-plus years of anti-democratic power.”
Former Commons speaker Baroness Boothroyd admitted that the affair “doesn’t leave [the Lords] with a very good smell under the nose of the public,” while maintaining that Lord Sewel was “a decent human being.”
Prime Minister David Cameron has indicated that the peer should resign and fellow Tory Lord Cormack agreed that this might be “the kindest way” since “there’s not a proper scheme for peers to take early retirement.”
Lord Speaker Baroness D’Souza wrote yesterday to the Lords’ commissioner for standards and the Metropolitan Police commissioner asking them to investigate the allegations against Lord Sewel.
And Lord Sewel was granted leave of absense yesterday during which time he will be unable to claim any allowances from the House.
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