Constitutional necrosis

It’s been a strange week in the Ruritanian kingdom of Ukovia, where politics is a game played by rich people and Lords and Ladies dripping in ermine who debate austerity. The elected government, elected that is by 24% of those eligible to vote, decided in its wisdom that it’s unfair that the poorest paid workers receive such a pittance from their employers that state intervention is required to allow the lowest paid a basic standard of living. You’d imagine, in a normal country in a normal universe, that this undesirable state of affairs would lead the government to increase the minimum wage so that it really was a living wage, and not a sum that won’t cover the essential expenses. But we don’t live in a normal country, we live in Ukovia.

The basic Ukovian principle concerning the austerity that determines our lives because rich people say so is that in order to increase productivity the rich must be rewarded but the poor must be punished. This is a kindness, by cracking the whip on the low paid they’ll become more strivey. Rich people don’t need whips cracked, because they have staff who can be whipped instead. Rich people need to be incentivised to become more strivey by being given more for less striving. This principle is what has made Ukovia great, and made this country a world leader in patriotic baking programmes and commemorations of long gone wars. There’s no country as great as Ukovia for celebrating the past because most of its citizens have no future.

And so, municifently, the Tories have graciously decided to axe the payments to the low paid in order to send a signal to the rich employers who fund the Tory party. And that signal is that by cutting the income of the poor, the government can now cut taxes for the rich, thus maximum Tory striviness is achieved.

But this is terribly unfair, cried a whole bunch of unelected peers who get £300 a day in expenses simply in return for turning up to strive without actually having to do any striving. We’re going to take strong and decisive action, they resolved, so there. And there was much huffing and puffing throughout the land, or at least in the pages of the Daily Mail. And so the poor peasants of Ukovia found themselves looking to an electorally illegitimate chamber to protect them from the bastards in the elected one.

The Tories immediately went into full on outrage mode, disgusted that the unelected bunch of placepersons, donors, and has beens whose undeserved privileges the Tories did so much to preserve might choose to exercise those privileges in a way that the Tories don’t like. It’s a constitutional crisis, they cried. Ukovia has seen no threatened crisis like it since Theresa May said that a Labour government backed by the SNP would be the worst crisis since the abdication. In other words, a crisis is when the Tory establishment thinks that it’s not going to get its own way. They’re the rulers of Ukovia, and nothing must stand in their way, not Scottish people, not poor people, not even their own House of Lords. The only thing that never provokes a constitutional crisis is opposition from the Labour party, but that’s mainly because Labour opposition consists largely of abstaining.

If the Lords dare to challenge us, threatened the Tories, we’ll pack the Lords with even more Michele Mones than we have done already. Michele came from a hovel but dared to dream that she could escape it, and also to make sure that others couldn’t escape so that her dream remains hers alone. The Lords harrumphed like toads in a pond in an amphibian orgy. Davie Cameron called up Andrew Lloyd Webber and told him he was wishing you were somehow here again. So Andy flew in first class from New York at taxpayers’ expense so that he could join Michale and vote against poor people who might think I dreamed a dream.

The Lib Dems sponsored a motion in the Lords that would have sent the cuts to tax credits back to the Commons. Labour didn’t like that idea, because that would have meant that the authority of the Lords might be damaged by the retaliation that the Tories would take. They’ll pack the Lords with even more bums to warm seats than they have done already and that would totally undermine the legitimacy that it’s not got. Instead Labour decided to oppose the Tories by not opposing them at all.

So Labour bravely opposed the Tories’ evil measures by abstaining. They stood up to the Tories by cowering in a corner and pleading not to be hit. That’ll teach them, said the Labour lords. The cuts to tax credits are still going to be introduced, but they’ll be implemented more slowly. Instead of tipping the poor into a vat of boiling oil, Labour’s going to lower them in gradually. It’s a kindness. The poor will still be fried, but Labour gets some headlines and can pretend it’s done something useful. And it has, it has usefully protected austerity for the Ukovian establishment. It’s the Ukovian way. Isn’t it great? Huzzah! Hooray!

Despite a stance from Labour that was as principled as an email from a Nigerian prince who needs your help to release £10 million from a bank account, the Tories are still going to retaliate. The Tories have always resisted any attempts to reform the House of Lords, they’re certainly not about to abolish it, not when it’s a pension plan for Tory MPs. It’s not so much the £300 a day in expenses they get, but a nice title is always a big help when it comes to getting a cushy directorship on the board of an international arms dealing company. Now Davie Cameron and George Osborne have an excuse for sharing that love with even more of their chums.

Labour could have done something about the Lords in 1997 when they were elected with an absolute majority. They chose to replace the hereditary principle with the only thing that was worse – the appointment of their pals. Now we’re all dealing with the consequences of successive governments acting in their own short term interests. The Tories are about to repeat that, and another little bit of what passes for democracy withers and dies. What we’ve got right now isn’t so much a constitutional crisis as a constitutional necrosis.

If you want a proper constitution there’s only one way you’re going to get one. It won’t be in Ukovia.

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29 comments on “Constitutional necrosis

  1. IndyR says:

    “…looking to an electorally illegitimate chamber to protect them from the bastards in the elected one.” Laughed out loud. You couldn’t make this up. More power to the WGD.

  2. macart763 says:

    That’s a clonker Paul. I watched this clusterfudge unfold last night and couldn’t believe what I was seeing and hearing.

    Its like a badly written plot from House of Cards. The kind of plot written after a curry and tequila slammer night out for the writing staff got way out of hand, read by the producers and binned on the grounds that it couldn’t possibly reflect real world experience.

    The upshot, as you point out, is that after all the pomp and circumstance, all the poseurs posturing and a mountain of fucking waffle besides, the cuts will still happen and the poor will still be made poorer. The two parties, the two chambers are, regardless of said waffle, less than a fag paper apart when it comes to austerity measures.

    There is only one way to answer this austerity ideology from that hoose on the Thames and it can’t come soon enough.

  3. gavin says:

    The Morning side Muppet claims this as a Labour “victory”. Even though it’s only a delay to the cuts. No doubt he hopes no one is looking when it actually impacts on the poor.

    He also has the barefaced affronted to claim Labour wants to abolish the Lords. Keir Hardie wanted it abolished a hundred and thirty years ago. Labour have formed unpteen governments since then! As much chance as Mandleson giving all his wealth away to the poor.

  4. says:

    Reblogged this on Bampots Utd.

  5. Justin Fayre says:

    Love it.
    Ukovia sounds like a cough mixture though.
    Comedy gold

  6. Sandra Stewart says:

    Superb piece of writing. As always you hit the nail squarely on the head. The government of this country is a joke. We need to get the hell out of Ukovia

  7. Steve Asaneilean says:

    The failure of the 1997 (Not) Labour government to axe this affront to democracy was, in my view one of their greatest failures.

    If ever proof was needed that (Not) Labour had given up on both democracy and ordinary people here it was.

    How can anyone claim that unelected place people are any more legitimate than unelected hereditary people?

    We don’t live in a democracy where 24% of the vote gives you care blanched to do what you like and the only thing standing in your way (or usually not) is Andrew Lloyd Webber or Michelle Money?

    Talk about lunatics taking over the asylum.

    What we need is a single chamber with two MPS elected for each constituency by preferential voting (and only one candidate per party per constituency).

    And we will only ever get something like that or closer to it in and independent small nation – a nation which doesn’t reward greed, avarice and exploitation by giving it a seat in the legislature.

    • macart763M says:

      Agreed Steve and well said.

      Westminster’s second chamber is a reward system, a bribe and a retirement home all rolled into one and so long as it exists (and it looks in no danger of EVER being abolished or reformed), then UK politics is open to patronage and political/corporate compromise of the worst kind.

      If they won’t get shot, then it is imperative to get out.

  8. gavin C Barrie says:

    About this strivey concept.Would it not be more cost efficient if some measure of productivity was introduced to the the house of “Lords”?

    For example, rather £300/day appearance money, payment was for words spoken by attending “Lords”, in discussions? The “Lords ” would then strive against each other to be given time to speak, for payment. A sort of free Oral market?

    I feel sympathy for Michelle Mone in truth. She doesn’t realise how they regard her. Paw, Michelle paw. Good girl. Walkies!

  9. Polscot says:

    Great piece of insightful writing again, Paul.

    I did hear that a member of the Labour cabal in the House of Lords actually went a step further in opposing the Bill. Rather than simply abstaining and cowering in the corner like his fellows, he actually showed the Tories “who is boss” by voting with them. That, for me, demonstrated the true value of the red tory party members in the upper house; when it comes to the crunch and a vote is required, they either abstain or vote with the Tories. Either way the tories win, howzat for a win/win. The name of this visionary reactionary, as reported on R4 this morning, is the wallpaper enthusiast total b’stard Irvine of Lairg.

  10. arthur thomson says:

    A brilliant post which so deserves to be much more widely read. Life can be so frustrating.

    I liked your use of Ukovia. It brought a degree of detachment when reading it, a view from the outside which exposes it for the monstrosity that it really is. The ideological rationale behind the impoverishment of the poor is to make them vulnerable and ripe for maximum exploitation. The demonising of the poor is to ensure that there is no sympathy for their plight. What should I call that? People label it neo-liberalism but to me that is just a euphemism, I see it as a form of fascism.

    As each week goes by I become more and more convinced that the detailed, nuanced arguments about the pros and cons of the union are of minimal consequence in our pursuit of independence. Ultimately I think we have to depend on increasing numbers of Scots waking up and rejecting the victimisation of the poor and the vulnerable; recognising that they have no power to change it in the UK and deciding that independence cannot be worse but could be better.

    • Patience is a Virtue says:

      Lest ye forget (July 2015)… ‘As expected, the Government’s Welfare Bill was passed by a large majority: 308 votes to 124. Labour’s decision to abstain on the legislation (its amendment was defeated by 308 to 108) made that inevitable’ …. sound familiar?

      Does the DWP pursue Peers who don’t turn up to work for their £300 a day, or just the ones that abstain? (i.e. the Labour ones).Even some Conservative MPs have had the guts in the Commons to speak out against this… £300 a day to abstain.

      “You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately.”

  11. daibhidhdeux says:

    Bring back Guy Fawkes & tie “Fookes Sake” up in the HoL’s boozer when it all goes boom boom up.

  12. J Galt says:

    On the bright side at least this exposes Jeremy Corbyn for who and what he is.

    The reasons for the curious Chuka Umunna episode become clearer by the day.

  13. katherine hamilton says:

    Well said WGD. My serious concern, and you allude to it in many of your articles, is we are heading for a fascist state for the excluded. If you are in the tent, fine. I despair at the lack of leadership from the left and in particular trade unions. Looks like they like being in the tent too.

    Heaven help us.

    • I give you “Sir Paul Kenny” katherine, General Secretary of the G.M.B of the current flock. Possibly his reward for opposing Scottish independence. I can’t be bothered looking it up, but I think one of the first trade union leaders I remember being knighted was Sir Jack Jones, maybe in the sixties.
      I was once a member of a trade union, although I didn’t pay the Labour Party levy, but left when I realised they were as much use as a chocolate fireguard, with the leaders being in cahoots with the bosses. Oh aye, they have become part of what they are supposed to oppose, the establishment. Well, it must be difficult to resist especially when along the way you have ditched your members interests, and have very few principles left, except looking after No 1.

  14. tsar nicholas says:

    Be thankful for small victories. i know I am, but if the Tories want to get this through, they can. They can put these measures in a Bill, get it declared by the Speaker as a Money Bill, and under the terms of the 1911 and 1948 parliament Acts, the House of Lords has no say.

    On the question of getting anti-austerity measures approved, be they at a UK level or in Scotland or even in Wales (where I live) one has to ask whether these would ever be allowed by the European Union, which is a silent elephant in the room that Scottish nationalists continue to ignore. Portugal recently elected a solid Left anti-austerity majority. Guess what? The president of that beleaguered country has declined to allow them into office on the basis that their policies would screw up Portugal’s relationship with the EU and the Eurozone. Once may be an accident (Papandreou replaced); twice may be really, really unfortunate (Berlusconi removed) but three times is beginning to look like a a pattern. There will be no self-government within the EU so far as I can see.

  15. Guga says:

    If anyone in Scotland is still deluded enough to think we live in a democracy, then they must be very young children or total cretins.

    We have a “government” in the House of Common Thieves which was elected by 24% of the electorate.

    We have around 900 people in the House of Lards who are, in most cases, appointed by the above mentioned “government” in the House of Common Thieves. They now appear to be going to appoint many, many more to ensure that they get the House of Lards to vote the way they want.

    To make matters worse, these approximately 900 Lards are paid £300 per day, which amounts to a cost of around £270,000 per day for the taxpayers, and they probably manage to cook the books to ensure that they get a share of the expenses pot of gold.

    To complete the trio of our “democracy”, we have the EUSSR Commissars who, like the House of Lards, are totally unelected. I don’t know how much pay they get, but you can be sure that it is not peanuts.

    Now, compare the earnings of our “democratic” leaders (ignoring the fact that many, many of them are millionaires in their own right) with the legal national minimum wage of £6.70 an hour (or £268 a week for a 40 hour week) that a very high number of ordinary people are expected to survive on. Our “democratic” leaders probably spend more on a night out than many people earn in a week. However, our “democratic” leaders have no conception about the lives of ordinary people, nor do they care. The hoi polloi are a dirt under their boots.

    The only way we will ever implement social justice for all the people of Scotland is to get rid of this English system of kicking the poor is to get out of this unequal, undemocratic union, and the sooner, the better.

    • Agreed Guga except where I think you fall into the establishment’s trap and describe people as “ordinary”. All of us are “real people”, and should be referred to as such and not , I think, the derogatory term so commonly used nowadays, especially by people who think they are better than “us”. We’re aw Jock Thomson’s bairns.

  16. david agnew says:

    The lords didn’t do anything to stop the tories. The cuts will still go ahead. Immediately for new claimants – 3 years down the road for everyone else, and they face a massive claw back under the new system. The labour peers said themselves that this would result in cuts that are far deeper than what the conservatives planned.

    The tories are crying crocodile tears, but secretly I think they are thrilled. If labour “The only anti austerity” party in the UK has sided with the lib-dems – then the bill would have been killed off. But labour abstained again and let the tories in by the side door. To look at them preen like they had done “good work this day” was quite sickening.

  17. You must be mistaken. I was sure we were celebrating our boys’ glorious victories in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, not to mention the forthcoming ones when Ukovian weaponry introduces Saudi Arabian Wahabism to Yemen, and we increase the RAF participants in the US bombing of Syria. Not for nothing did John Pilger refer to the “War on Democracy”.

  18. FergusMac says:

    O/T Walked past Fluffy Mundell’s constituency office in Moffat this afternoon – It’s got a big “To Let” sign in the window.

    It’s been there for years, so I was a bit surprised. Still pissed that we came so close to getting rid of him, but fell 800 votes short. Next time …

  19. Capella says:

    I think it was Dennis Healy who summarised the Tories’ economic policy thus:

    “The rich don’t work hard enough because they are not getting enough money and the poor don’t work hard enough because they get too much.”

    No change there then.

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