Was the Lords standing up for the people really ‘unconstitutional’?

Yesterday’s defiance by the House of Lords against the tax credit cuts was a triumph for democracy. But it was also a bit of a failure. THe fact that we have to rely on an unelected house to stand up for the working people in our society is quite bad. However, the Lords seem to have been very courageous in defeating the government knowing the implications that were threatened by Osbourne and Cameron before the votes. The lords used to be the Tory heartland, but now it seems to be their undoing. The Conservatives are in shock that such a thing could have happened to their plans. They are in disarray, they don’t know what to do. So they try to make the Lords’ choice to oppose these rancid views illegitimate. Their way of doing this is by calling the decision ‘unconstitutional’. But is the defeat of the government really ‘unconstitutional’?

Firstly, we need to look in how this bill was put forward. The bill was pushed through as a ‘statutory institute’. This is essentially a way of Governments getting policies through quickly and usually quite easily. However, a statutory instrument also has every right to be stipulated over by the Lords. There were other options that would have allowed the Government to implement their plans without the Lords’ stipulation, but they would have taken time. The Government could have introduced these policies through an act, or they could have put it into the budget. If they had done this, then they would have sidestepped the Lords, but it would have to have gone through the legislative back and forth in the commons and elsewhere that acts usually do. However, the government chose to put it through as a statutory instrument, they knew the risks, and now they have to deal with those said risks.

This highlights the Conservatives sheer deception on this matter. They knew that they were going to do this right from the start. THey knew that they had lied when Michael Gove and David Cameron said specifically that they would not do this. The only way that this would get through in their eyes was if it was done under the nose of the public, in a fast and easy way. The statutory institute provides this fast and easy way, and they had no other reason to pose these cuts this way other than to implement it as quick as they can, to try to do it under our noses. The real constitutional crisis was that the government was allowed to let a policy that was not in their manifesto through the commons.

The Clerks of parliament have also said that there is nothing unconstitutional about the amendments voted for yesterday by the peers. The clerks being the people who actually know what the constitution is, not the politicians who are crying wolf over this. Even the speaker of the commons came out today and said that there was no unconstitutional activity in these amendments, and that it is just people’s personal opinions that are against them. Should we rely on the government for our facts on the constitution, serial lairs and deceivers? Or should we alternative rely on the people whose job it is to decide what is and is not constitutional, and do not have a ulterior motive in politics?

Whatever happens now, whatever the Tories do to punish the peers who stood up for the most vulnerable in our society, we need to stand by the Lords. As hard as it is for me to say, but without them, people would be in absolute destitution and would have suffered at the hands of the Tory government we have now. What is unconstitutional is the fact that the Lords will be punished for doing exactly what they are there for. WHy else would the bill have been put through the lords if they did not have a choice on the matter?

Yesterday was a victory for the people. However, we should not gloat, the Tories are still ready to cripple us, to destroy us, more so than before. We need to make sure that we carry on opposing them, not only in Westminster, but on social media, in the streets and through every medium we can. Let’s not pat ourselves on the back yet. We still have a few more years before we can do that.


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