“Peers shall teem in Christendom, and a Duke’s exalted station be attainable by competitive examination!” Act 1, Iolanthe, WS Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan.
If only …
Stuffing the House of Lords with your cronies, the corrupt and the crud rejected by the electorate is as old as Parliament itself. Hell, I’m sufficiently advanced in years to remember the furore when Harold Wilson ennobled Joe Kagan, the man who gave us Gannex raincoats and a new byword for “false accounting”.
An honour is not without profit.
Yesterday was just another milestone in this long and dishonourable tradition. Fifty four new peers will shortly strut their funky stuff on the red leather benches with a dead stoat round their necks. Notable here is that, of the new residents of the best appointed retirement home in the country, forty two are coalition, only eleven are from the opposition and one is a crossbencher.
More striking than this is that BBC research has revealed that donors being given Conservative peerages have donated a total of £4,678,636 to the party between them. As far as the boy David is concerned it seems that an honour is not without profit.
Nick Clegg, who must have had at least some say in the list (presumably in between making the tea and emptying the bins), has been banging the drum for years about reforming the House of Lords. But he’s quite happy to have another fifteen on the public payroll, including one whose only claim to fame seems to be having achieved the rank of deputy group leader on Luton Borough Council. Earth shattering stuff!
The real reason behind all these new appointments is the usual attempt to fiddle the balance of power in the chamber to make life easier for the majority in the lower house. The House of Lords is an anachronism and it is long overdue for the simple reform of making it fully elected. Don’t hold your breath while you wait, though!