LONDON — A senior Labor Party official has urged Keir Starmer to reject proposals by his “obsessed” predecessor Gordon Brown to abolish the House of Lords and replace it with an elected second chamber.
His Labor counterpart David Blunkett, a former Cabinet minister under Tony Blair, said in a new episode of POLITICO’s Westminster Insider podcast that Starmer should “consider long and hard” on Brown’s recommendations for comprehensive Lords reform – and “avoid as the plague’ the creation of an elected second chamber with the legitimacy to challenge the House of Commons.
“Gordon Brown was obsessed with it,” Blunkett said.
Blunkett warned that Brown’s plan would risk mirroring the “next two-year stalemate” expected in the United States, with a Republican-controlled House of Representatives battling a Democratic-controlled Senate and White House.
“You should think very seriously about the consequences of this,” Blunkett said. “I almost said you should get your head checked [to proceed]but that may be going a bit far.
The proposals of Brown, Labor Prime Minister from 2007 to 2010, for an “elected house of nations and regions” are being studied by the party leadership. Starmer has said he would like to abolish the Lords but is still considering his priorities should he win power in the next election.
Brown’s proposals divided the party when they were unveiled in December, with Labor peer Peter Mandelson – like Blunkett, an ally of Brown’s former rival Tony Blair – warning the party would find itself in a “quagmire if he failed to win cross-party support.
Blunkett echoed those concerns, noting, “You certainly wouldn’t want, in your first term, to take on the battle that has raged for 100 years or more and that has hurt so many regimes over those years. .”
“A major battle… would inevitably mean you wouldn’t be doing the things that are the public’s priority,” he added.