Leaders: MPs must stop putting party before the people
POLITICIANS often complain they are misrepresented, that the widely held view they care little for principle and more about their narrow partisan advantage is a gross calumny against a noble calling in which they seek only what is best for the people they represent.
Last night’s events at Westminster when the UK coalition government was forced to climb down on its plans to limit debate on House of Lords reform should force our MPs to think again about their self-serving self-image.
The facts reveal why the public is right to be cynical about our elected representatives. First, all three main UK political parties in parliament claim to believe in modernising the archaic institution that is the House of Lords.
Second, the Conservatives, their Liberal Democrat coalition partners, and Labour all claim they want to see this important measure being properly examined and debated in both Houses of Parliament to secure lasting reform.
Yet their actions suggest their fine declarations are so much empty rhetoric and they seek to gain partisan advantage, rather than put the interests of the country first.
For the Tories, this means a large number of back-benchers refusing to go along with the coalition agreement on reforming the Lords on the ground they want to see the measure debated properly in the Commons.
Were this the case, their actions would be laudable, but it is not. Many Conservative MPs are driven by antipathy to the Lib Dems, an innate small ‘c’ conservatism and, we suspect, a hope for some at least that they may end their days as appointees to the Upper House.
Labour is no better. The party clearly sees an opportunity to exploit the fragile nature of the coalition and sees the best way to expose the fissures as allowing the fight between the Tories and Lib Dems to carry on for as long as possible, in public.
As for the Lib Dems, they have been naive at best and incompetent at worst, if they believed the idea of 15-year terms for those elected to a second chamber which could become a rival to the Commons would find favour with Conservatives.
The tragedy is the case for the radical reform of the Lords is unanswerable. It is a democratic nonsense that even a revising legislative chamber is largely appointed by the parties and contains some hereditary peers and Church of England bishops.
Given the parliamentary shenanigans, this latest reform is now at risk. The public looking on will not, as some MPs hope, just shrug their collective shoulders and tell them to get back to more important work.
This episode will further confirm the public perception that politicians care only for party politics. If they cannot get their own Houses in order, what hope is there they can tackle the important issues like hauling the economy out of the abyss or dealing with our discredited banks?
Trump card for tourism
WHETHER you love him, loathe him or simply find him rather ludicrous, it is impossible to ignore Donald Trump. “The Donald”, as he is known, is not a man to hide his light under a bushel.
Given this, it is entirely unsurprising that the New York-based property entrepreneur declared the golf course he built amid the sand dunes of Aberdeenshire to be nothing less than the best in the world.
Yet while one would expect such hyperbole from the never knowingly understated Mr Trump, there is a body of opinion in the golfing world which agrees it is, if not the best, then one of the best links courses on the planet.
That is certainly the view of Ryder Cup-winning captain Colin Montgomerie, who played a few holes with The Donald yesterday to mark the opening, and others in golf appear to agree.
After the controversy over the building of the course, with opposition from local people and environmentalists, this judgment of the links’ merit in purely sporting terms is important for its future and for Scotland.
Golf is one of our key industries, and anything which adds to the attraction of Scotland for golfers should be welcomed.
So it is time to put the arguments over the Menie Estate behind us, and that means that for Mr Trump it is also time to draw a line under his disagreements with the Scottish Government over a proposed wind farm and press ahead at full speed not just with the course but with the hotel and housing developments planned around it, so the full potential of the project is realised. It is here now and should become a trump card for Scotland’s important golf tourism industry.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Sunday 26 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 15 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 8 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: South