Note: This blog draws in part on my experiences and observations interviewing political figures, writers, and analysts for "The Campbell Conversations" on WRVO. To hear past interviews I refer to in these posts, please go to the show's website. The views expressed here are solely my own, and do not represent Syracuse University, the Campbell Institute, or the WRVO Stations.

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Like Blue Ribbon Commissions? Then Why Not Consider the Real Thing -- The House of Lords

Check out this week's Campbell Conversation from London (my work there has been the reason for the posting hiatus), in which I talk with one of Britain's leading experts on the structure of its political system--its "constitution" (the country has no codified constitution in the American sense).  He's Philip Norton, a Member of the House of Lords.  You can find the interview here.

Lord Norton offers many interesting observations about the myriad of political changes and reforms the country has either made or seriously considered over the past 15 years.  In some ways, the changes bring certain aspects of Britain's system closer to ours.

One such proposed change is to make the House of Lords into an elected chamber, versus the appointed body it is now.  Norton persuasively argues that from the perspective of high-quality policy-making and clear democratic accountability, the Lords fill an essential role that would be ruined by elections, and that an elected Lords would introduce new problems for democracy.

It's a provocative and thought-provoking interview, and given the American penchant for enlisting blue ribbon commissions when the political challenges get toughest, it contains some counter-intuitive suggestions for improving our own democracy.


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