UK's Labor Vows Overhaul of Parliament Upper Chamber it it Wins Power

A general view shows Palace of Westminster, home to the Houses of Parliament, and the Elizabeth Tower, commonly known by the name of the bell "Big Ben", in London on June 15, 2023. (Photo by Daniel LEAL / AFP)
A general view shows Palace of Westminster, home to the Houses of Parliament, and the Elizabeth Tower, commonly known by the name of the bell "Big Ben", in London on June 15, 2023. (Photo by Daniel LEAL / AFP)
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UK's Labor Vows Overhaul of Parliament Upper Chamber it it Wins Power

A general view shows Palace of Westminster, home to the Houses of Parliament, and the Elizabeth Tower, commonly known by the name of the bell "Big Ben", in London on June 15, 2023. (Photo by Daniel LEAL / AFP)
A general view shows Palace of Westminster, home to the Houses of Parliament, and the Elizabeth Tower, commonly known by the name of the bell "Big Ben", in London on June 15, 2023. (Photo by Daniel LEAL / AFP)

Britain's opposition Labor Party, which is currently way ahead in opinion polls before an election next month, said it would reform parliament's upper chamber to remove the right of hereditary peers to sit in the House of Lords.
The grand, centuries-old ornate red and gold chamber in the Palace of Westminster currently has about 800 members, whose places are obtained by arcane rules, Reuters said.
Most are appointed by the prime minister after being nominated for a life peerage by political parties or recommended by an appointments committee, but it also includes Church of England bishops and some by right of their aristocratic birth.
There are currently 92 hereditary peers.
While the upper chamber has much less power than the elected House of Commons after reforms in 1911, there have long been calls for an overhaul of the current system, with criticism the appointments' system leads to cronyism.
There were questions asked when former Prime Minister Boris Johnson appointed one of his former aides as the Lords' youngest member aged 30.
In its manifesto, the document outlining the policies it would enact in government, Labor said it would start "immediate modernization" by legislating to remove hereditary peers and for a mandatory retirement age of 80.
"Labor will ensure all peers meet the high standards the public expect of them, and we will introduce a new participation requirement as well as strengthening the circumstances in which disgraced members can be removed," the manifesto said.
The party said its proposals would be an improvement, but it was committed to "replacing the House of Lords with an alternative second chamber that is more representative of the regions and nations", and would consult on proposals.



Biden Battles COVID and Democrats as Crisis Grows

President Joe Biden walks down the steps of Air Force One at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, Wednesday, July 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
President Joe Biden walks down the steps of Air Force One at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, Wednesday, July 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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Biden Battles COVID and Democrats as Crisis Grows

President Joe Biden walks down the steps of Air Force One at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, Wednesday, July 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
President Joe Biden walks down the steps of Air Force One at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, Wednesday, July 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Joe Biden holed up at his beach house Thursday, battling both a bout of COVID and calls by senior allies for him to abandon his 2024 reelection bid.

While rival Donald Trump prepared for his star turn at the Republican National Convention, the 81-year-old US president found himself in both personal and political isolation.

The top Democrats in Congress, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, both reportedly met with Biden in recent days to warn that his candidacy threatens his party's prospects in November's election.

Influential former House speaker Nancy Pelosi added to his woes by privately telling Biden he cannot win and could harm Democrats' chances of recapturing the lower chamber, CNN reported.

Several party figures were meanwhile quoted anonymously by the Axios news outlet as saying that they believed the pressure would persuade Biden to drop out as soon as this weekend.

Biden has insisted he is not backing down, adamant that he is the candidate who beat Trump before and will do it again this year. Pressed about reports that Biden might be softening to the idea of leaving the race, his deputy campaign manager Quentin Fulks said Thursday: “He is not wavering on anything.”

"He's staying in the race," Fulks told a press conference on the sidelines of the Republican convention in Milwaukee.

"Our campaign is not working through any scenarios where President Biden is not the top of the ticket -- he is and will be the Democratic nominee."

California Senator Alex Padilla said Biden was "not skipping a beat."

"I know having spoken to him personally he's committed to the campaign," he added.

Using mountains of data showing Biden’s standing could wipe out the ranks of Democrats in Congress, frank conversations in public and private, and now, the president’s own time off the campaign trail after testing positive for COVID-19, many Democrats see an opportunity to encourage a reassessment.

Biden told reporters on Wednesday that he was "doing well."

His COVID diagnosis however came at the worst possible time for his campaign, forcing him to cut short a trip to Las Vegas and isolate at his holiday home in Rehoboth, Delaware.

The split-screen with Trump could not have been more stark, with Trump set to formally accept the Republican nomination in Milwaukee.

US networks showed images of frail looking Biden gingerly descending the steps of Air Force One in Delaware, in a week when Trump is lauded by supporters each night at a packed party convention.

Former president Trump, who at 78 is just three years younger than Biden, is riding a wave of support from his party after surviving an assassination attempt on Saturday that left him with a bandaged ear.

The United States could now be approaching the climax of an extraordinary three weeks in politics, which started when Biden gave a disastrous performance during a televised debate with Trump.

Biden blamed jet lag and a cold, but the fact that America's commander-in-chief has now fallen ill for a second time just as fears grow about his fitness for the job has merely intensified the panic in Democratic ranks.