So, Labour looks set to press ahead with long-overdue reforms to abolish the House of Lords in its present state and replace it with an elected second chamber. Hurrah. The House of Lords is an anachronism as is much of the constitutional monarchy state which could also do with the abolition treatment. Throughout history it has acted as a defender of vested interests and a barrier to change; therefore no progressive will mourn its demise.
The radicalism of this proposal stems as much from their implications as the changes made to the House of Lords. Making them work will require a degree of codification of Britain’s as yet unwritten constitution because otherwise the existence of two elected legislative bodies will inevitably at some stage result in log-jam. As soon as the powers of the two Houses have to be codified the issue of the unwritten powers the executive wields under Royal Prerogative can and should be addressed.
Removing the House of Lords also strikes at the very heart of the constitutional monarchy state because it abolishes the idea that the right to govern is something passed down as a birthright and enshrined the principle it has to be earned. Also, the formal link between the state and the Church of England is severed and so the true secularisation of the British state becomes not only possible but a living, breathing reality.
The implications of what is being proposed is therefore far-reaching though of course not all of them will be fulfilled by this legislation. This will form the next challenge for those who want to see the change go further; to maintain the momentum and fulfill the radical potential of these measures.