Michelle Mone Ann Widdecombe 2
Conservative Party

Lower than ermine? Why is Ann Widdecombe not in the House of Lords?

 

One of these is in the House of Lords and oughtn’t to be; and one isn’t but really, really ought to be. One wonders why.

Michelle Mone OBE (left) is probably a very nice, capable and talented woman. She obviously has fine taste in lingerie. According to her website, she is “one of the UK’s leading entrepreneurs.. a shining example of how spirit and determination can lead to global success”. This is very good: the UK needs talented entrepreneurs, and moreso when they are pleasant to behold. But we also need peers who can scrutinise, interrogate and improve legislation; not simply those who will follow the party whip because they owe the Prime Minister one.

Ann Widdecome (right) doesn’t even have an MBE to her name. She is a ‘Dame’, but that was bestowed by Pope Benedict XVI for her faithful and charitable services; not by the Prime Minister for her decades of public service.

She might ruffle a few feathers, put spanners in works, get under one’s skin and be a general thorn in the side, but pearls need grit and mills need grist. It’s a legislator’s job to analyse, probe and persuade. In the Upper House, we need peers with the ability to spot deficiency and, without fear or favour, to warn of sin or stain.

Ann Widdecombe has her detractors: they are legion. She is opposed to abortion and is therefore a ‘religious extremist’; in an era of inviolable gay rights and moral relativism, she opposes same-sex marriage and asserts unpalatable truths about the meaning of ‘family’. Unlike most of her party, she favours the ban on hunting with hounds. And she isn’t afraid occasionally to criticise her own party (or leader), which is viewed by many as an unforgivable disloyalty.

But her experience and effectiveness in government; her conviction; her witness to her faith; her enormous efforts for charity; her untiring (and ongoing) work for the Conservative Party; her ability to raise troop morale; her preparedness to confront the zeitgeist; her tenacity… She manifestly has enormous integrity and bucket-loads of principles. She is credible, moral and authoritative, and she enriches public life.

Frankly, Ann Widdecombe should be elevated to the Lords if only to challenge ubiquitous Christianity-lite and confront a few tedious bishops.

Of this most recent list of Tory peers, Paul Goodman wrote on ConHome that it “lacks vision, imagination, and feeling for the wider Conservative family”. Given some of these ennoblements (among many others of recent times), one wonders if an elevation of this kind might not now constitute something of an insult. Given the (mostly) unfavourable media attention the Upper House seems to attract, Ann Widdecombe might make better use of her talents and time in walking another path.

Yet she has made it known that such a platform would enhance the work of those charities which she supports: it is not a case of her having been offered a peerage and politely declined. Wouldn’t the elevation of Ann Widdecombe enhance the essential moral integrity and political credibility of Parliament?

If Conservatism is to remain a ‘broad church’, then space must be found for Baroness Widdecombe. If that church is to become insular and narrow, one alienates either the conservative wing or the liberal wing and ends up with a dismembered body of political extremists of one faction or the other. It is, after all, possible to be a fundamentalist relativist liberal.

The Conservative Party has been forever changing and never dogmatic. It is, in part, for that reason that its relationship with the Church of England has been natural and organic. If the Conservative Party is to continue to speak to every constituency of the United Kingdom, it must perpetuate its own via media. This is not a fudged compromise; it is the reality of living in a pluralist liberal democracy in which one has to be all things to all people.

Baroness Widdecombe articulates for the essential social conservatism of ‘middle England’. Alienate those, and the Conservative Party ceases to be anything. And if you cram the Lords with placemen and toadies, no matter how glamorous, it, too, ceases to be anything.

  • alternative_perspective

    Unfortunately she cannot be reduced to the atoms of sexual emancipation or economic development and thus has no place in mainstream Britain.

    She speaks of ideas which founded and governed our country that are now looked down upon as faintly embarrassing at best: offensive at worst.

    Britain is in the thrall of a materialist reductionism that lacks the imagination to conceive of virtue, beauty and morality. It is an immensely impoverishing philosophy of life but it is the philosophy of the British people.

    Anne Widdecombe stands as an offensive critique of such beliefs and if we’ve learnt anything from modern British culture, is it brooks no offence nor tolerates dissent.

    I’m not surprised she hasn’t been elevated to the lords, though I’m somewhat taken aback that she hasn’t yet been cautioned by the police for hate speech.

    • preacher

      Excellent !!!!

  • Old Nick

    No one prepared to interfere with other people’s legitimate and rational freedoms to the extent that she is prepared to interfere with those of foxhunters has a proper place in any legislature.

    • Don Benson

      It’s an issue of cruelty to animals which unfortunately cannot avoid impinging on personal freedom. Dog fighting, cock fighting, hare coursing, bear bating, bull fighting: where do you draw the line, or perhaps you’re fine with all of that? But I suspect you do draw the line at a point of your own choosing; why should Ann Widdecombe not have the right to argue for where she chooses to draw the line? Parliament happened to agree with her rather than you on this issue; doubtless on other issues it is the other way round.

      • Old Nick

        Hunting is nothing to do with so-called cruelty, and those who think that it is ipso facto distance themselves from the debate. It is “unfortunately” none of Parliament’s business.

        • alternative_perspective

          And when a rural household is burgled it presumably has no jurisdiction there also?

      • bluedog

        Animals are cruel to each other in their native state and regrettably have yet to understand the workings of our parliamentary democracy, its values, and the idea of separation of powers that lies behind our criminal justice system. This enables us to deny them the vote and to kill them and eat them without sanction when we are hungry. Et tu, Brute?

        • Don Benson

          Animals never ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and
          evil – ie they do not possess a sense of morality – so they cannot be accused of cruelty in the way that applies to humans. Thus for animals to kill and eat, even to kill unnecessarily (as does the fox), is not something which can be judged as deliberately cruel. But we humans are able to understand that cruelty is to be avoided; it harms the creature who suffers the cruelty and brutalises the perpetrator.

          Killing animals for food, as in abattoirs, is distasteful (I’ve
          witnessed it at first hand) but is generally seen as acceptable if efforts are made to restrict suffering to a minimum (stunning etc). Of course some people draw the line even at this and accordingly live as vegetarians; while I don’t go that far I think anyone who mocks that position should first visit an abattoir and see what they think then.

          • bluedog

            ‘ But we humans are able to understand that cruelty is to be avoided; it harms the creature who suffers the cruelty and brutalises the perpetrator.’ But is all killing ‘cruelty’, and if not, who determines what constitutes cruelty? Hopefully not the RSPCA who have moved beyond animal welfare to promotion of animal rights. This writer, a countryman, doesn’t begin to understand the urban drivel restraining hunting with dogs. Dogs evolved from wolves quite recently, and their DNA tells them to hunt so they do, human sensibilities notwithstanding.

          • Don Benson

            I understand all that you say. I was born in the countryside, have milked cows, ploughed fields and combined wheat and barley; I love walking on the tops of the Yorkshire Dales where the habitat I enjoy is maintained because of the sport of shooting. I am not full of urban sentiment regarding harmless fluffy animals in the natural world! The local hunt used to meet outside our house on boxing day and the dogs nearly did for our cat; I don’t blame the dogs, it was indeed their natural instinct.

            But I cannot accept ‘Old Nick’s’ assertion that anyone (such
            as Ann Widdecombe) who dares to campaign against fox hunting does not have a proper place in any legislature. Surely a legislature is the exact place where different opinions should be aired, and legislation passed accordingly?
            If you deplore the almost complete ignorance of rural affairs in our urban dominated parliament I certainly agree with you, but even within the rural community there is divergence of opinion on issues such as fox hunting (I gave mine above), and there are far more important issues facing our threatened and diminishing countryside than the right to hunt foxes with dogs. I worry that Old Nick’s attitude is counter productive to the urgent needs of the farming and wider rural community.

          • bluedog

            Fair points, DB. Old Nick’s intolerance of debate is a rare sighting on this blog, and as you say, unhelpful.

    • Albert

      At least Anne Widdecombe is also opposed to abortion. How many people want to protect foxes but not babies?

      • carl jacobs

        I wonder how much this has to do with protecting foxes, as opposed to good old fashioned class animosity.

        • Albert

          It clearly isn’t to do with consistent reasoning.

      • The Explorer

        There was that horrible case of a woman who had her baby’s face chewed in its cot by an urban fox. Don’t remember the details, but I believe she was against fox hunting before the event, and less so after.

        • Albert

          Yes, I remember that. I think it was followed by the tragic event of the fox getting into her house and attacking her child, because a burglar had left a hole in a window.

      • Powerdaddy

        Justice for babies!
        😉

  • bluedog

    One can argue that Anne Widdecome is ennobled by not being in the House of Lords. The abolition of this farcical institution is long overdue and will hopefully happen before its numbers reach 1000.

    • CliveM

      I agree. She has been treated in a petty, ungenerous, un-chivalrous and unpleasant manner.

      In many ways it reveals more about the perpetrators then it does the victim.

  • Inspector General

    The mother of the saintly and much missed Stephen Lawrence is also in the club for reasons that do not make sense to a simple Inspector. Around the same time the lad was murdered, the Inspector was ‘relieved’ of two bicycles with weeks of each other. He’s still waiting for his BEM, powers that be…

    • The Explorer

      Your two bicycles provide scope for pleasant reflection on the maxim that ‘property is theft’. If your acquisition of them by buying them is to be called ‘theft’ then what term are we to use for their removal without being paid for, and without your consent? It’s a different activity, and there ought to be a different word for it.

      • preacher

        Redistribution of wealth to the proletariat ?

        • The Explorer

          Rowttp. Thank you. Actually, maybe we could still call it theft. Those rowttping the Inspector’s bikes have become property owners themselves. And property is theft. I wonder if Proudhon owned the pen and paper with which he produced those words?

    • DanJ0

      Careful. You’ll end up being labelled: Inspector “Two Bikes” General, in the same vein as John Prescott. That’s Lord Prescott now, of course, despite his adultery, his right handers, and the charm of his denial of sexual assault because “she’s built like bloody barn door”.

      • The Explorer

        If he went ahead anyway we ought to put all barn doors on a state of high alert. Prescott headed your way.

  • Martin

    We now have a house of Lords that is the worst of all worlds. It is effectively elected by the political parties from the ranks of the obedient and therefore acts as such.

    One of the ridiculous ideas that needs to be abolished is the idea of the supremacy of the Commons. The way the Commons has been raised up to the point that it outweighs the Lords in authority and must meddle in the structure of the Lords has destroyed much of the democratic process.

    We need two houses, equal in authority but differing in structure to ensure that proper scrutiny is applied

    • Pubcrawler

      I think you’re right. Whereas once Parliament was a body to challenge and restrain the Executive (i.e. king), now we have an Executive derived from having a majority in the Lower House (a ‘democratc mandate’) and thus subject to no proper Parliamentary scrutiny and challenge save in the Lords (and a few rebellious backbenchers in the Commons). And now the Upper House is being filled by placemen (not for the first time, of course) to ensure that the will of the Executive carries the day. Patronage and promotion carry greater weight than good governance. I blame the Parliament Act 1911 and the Life Peerages Act 1958..

    • We now have this problem that the Lords is fast mirroring the Commons, which of course is pointless as whatever the Commons put forth the Lords will approve. We need independent peers and we had that with the hereditary ones, but in a fit of spite we allowed Labour to remove them.

  • Dreadnaught

    Well I suppose its one way to get the old bludgers, who turn up just for the reddies to take an interest in keeping abreast of other matters being discussed.

    • Albert

      Superb!

  • James Bolivar DiGriz

    “It is, after all, possible to be a fundamentalist relativist liberal.”
    IME the relativist liberal is always a fundamentalist. Any view other than their own is not something to be considered and possibly countered by reasoned argument, but something to be made un-sayable or even illegal.

    Any critcism of homosexual ‘marriage’ is homophobia, pointing out that there is a worryingly large %age of Muslims who support, say, murder is islamophobia, saying that a single woman on this particular occasion did something wrong is sexism, etc.

  • Albert

    Excellent post Dr C. But isn’t the reason there is no Baroness Widdecombe because as a Christians and a Conservative she would vote the wrong way?

  • DanJ0

    I don’t want to invite comparisons with Gok Wan but that lingerie is fab! *manhandles and adjusts her breasts in an asexual way*

    Doris Karloff is also fab of course. The House of Lords surely needs her.

    • The Explorer

      Prescott presumably couldn’t use the same excuse that Gok Wan did?

    • sarky

      Got to admit, that is a quality ‘sheepdog’ bra

  • carl jacobs

    So … tell me again why the HoL is superior to an elected body. I am sure the reason is amply displayed by this circumstance (as it were) but I just can’t seem to identify it.

    • The problem, as evidenced here, is the current selection process and not the idea of an unelected chamber drawn from a wide spectrum of society to review and amend legislation.

      • carl jacobs

        The problem, as evidenced here, is the current selection process

        Well, yes. Other than that, Mrs Lincoln, how was the play?

        You can I suppose postulate some ideal process where only the noble and virtuous are selected. In which case we can dispense with elections altogether. However, back here in the real world, we have to account for how selections are actually made by venal and self-interested men.

        Your original selection process was “He is the 43rd illegitimate son of the Baron of Worsteshire-on-the-Thames.” Now you appoint people for making underwear. I’m not seeing the wisdom here, nor any obvious way to fix it. So my original question still stands. Why is this process better than elections?

        • You’ve looked at your House of Senate recently?

          • bluedog

            Yes, frequently, and the underlying logic of the US Senate is clearly lost on you and every other British commentator who refuses, or is too lazy, to try and understand how the US federal constitution works. Ask yourself a simple question. Why is it that California with a population of 38m has the same US Senate representation (2 Senators) as Wyoming, population 584,000?

          • The underlying logic of the House of Lords is sound too. Senators can be and are as corrupt as Peers.

          • bluedog

            A number of commentators, including Martin and of course Carl, have already made sound points with which one can only agree.

            While it is true that a US Senator can potentially be as corrupt as a British life peer, the question of accountability is moot. If the Brit peer is feathering his nest or his duck pond, nobody can sack him at the end of the electoral term because there isn’t one.

            Life peers are only answerable to some Parliamentary committee that is made up of other Parliamentarians. As most lower house Parliamentarians in government fantasise about becoming a life peer, they face extraordinary conflicts of interest in dealing with members of the Upper House. It is within the gift of the Prime Minister to ennoble himself, a remarkable, if not ridiculous, proposition.

            But impugning the personality of the Senators and life peers is simply a distraction from the main point – the Life peers have no power. In the original creation of the House of Lords the peers had territorial responsibility. Since the English Civil War, this has not been the case, and the peers have lost their administrative responsibilities. Now even their ability to act as a review body is severely limited, and it’s been that way since 1911 when Asquith threatened a flood of hereditaries. Which proves that the distinction between life and hereditary peers is politically irrelevant.

            One problem with effective reform of the Upper House is the role of the CofE bishops. In the current political climate it would be extremely difficult politically to retain the Anglican bishops in their role as temporary peers within an elected Senate of a federal United Kingdom. Hence Lords reform inevitably leads to the dis-establishment of the CofE at the UK level. However, there is nothing to prevent the CofE bishops retaining a privileged role within a future English Parliament, should such an entity be created.

          • carl jacobs

            The Senate is actually a pretty impressive body. There is a reason that so many Presidents have come from the Senate.

            But that is’t even half an answer. Why do you believe that a non-democratic selection process will produce a better outcome? You see how the selections are manipulated by politicians to achieve parochial goals. No amount of wishful thinking is going to change that. Why then do you insist on certain people being selected into gov’t by some manner that has no direct accountability?

          • Jack’s “insisting” on nothing. He has very little faith in the democratic process and the way politicians prostitute themselves either to win votes or to lucrative lobbying deals. Why have another chamber of professional, self serving politicians? As he said, the process of selecting second chamber membership needs addressing. It shouldn’t be there in competition with the elected chamber but should have some means of ensuring new legislation is drafted correctly and has considered all the different angles and options – and a power to slow legislative change down. It worked pretty well for centuries and there’s no reason to suppose it shouldn’t work again.

          • carl jacobs

            So … you aren’t insisting on all those positive assertions you are making? Sometimes you confuse me, Jack.

            Why have another chamber of professional, self serving politicians?

            Because those self-serving politicians are elected and therefore accountable. The Lords are accountable to no one. You should read the Federalist Papers.

            And saying that “the process of selecting second chamber membership needs addressing” doesn’t mean there exists a way to select members that will result in a virtuous outcome. Indeed, handing people access to power without accountability is generally considered a very bad idea.

            It worked pretty well for centuries

            Did it? For whom? Your argument reduces to the idea that virtue is strongly correlated to nobility. I don’t believe it. I see no evidence for it. Education is not synonymous with virtue. And education is the only characteristic that nobility could claim it possessed in abundance over the other classes. Even that isn’t true anymore.

          • “Sometimes you confuse me, Jack.”

            Sometimes Jack confuses his author too, Carl. One really doesn’t know what to make of him. Until a couple of years ago he lived a relatively sheltered spiritual life, secure that his Christian faith was perfectly expressed by the doctrines and teachings of the Catholic Church. Facing serious issues, sure. Facing a need to restructure in some way and break down the worst aspects of clericalism. Facing one of its greatest, if not the greatest, scandals in its history. But, for all that, Jack was confident all was well and moving in the right direction.

            Then, he came across a so called Catholic site in America. He was shocked to his core to discover the depths of the problems in Catholicism, in Christianity more widely and in general civil society. Catholic and Christian teaching on homosexuality, contraception, divorce, abortion, capital punishment, and on social teachings is rejected by people and is being ignored and giving way to amorality and consequentialism in the state and in the Church.

            Now Jack isn’t despondent about all this. God has His ways. However, he is having to rethink his stance towards it all. One of the things he is having to accept is that a fallen citizenship, (aren’t we/they all?), absent a state following the laws of God, enacted by a political and administrative class who are committed to instilling Christian values, is heading for certain collapse. All the signs are there.

            So really whoever and by whatever means a second chamber is appointed, it’s unlikely to make a difference. You talk about “accountability”. For what exactly? And to whom? Okay, so material corruption may be monitored but what about spiritual corruption?

            When you’re accountable to a population who can dismiss you for enacting laws they disapprove of or for blocking laws they want, your integrity is bound to be effected. Your future career depends on remaining popular. You have to serve the masses. And when the people’s values are directed and manipulated towards immediate gratification, satisfying wants and fulfilling personal desires, traits coming naturally to man that are no longer constrained by Christianity, the vicious spiral heads south at an increasing rate of knots.

            Jack is contemplating a life as a hermit where he can devote himself to reading scripture and the writings of the great saints. Plus, before you say it, he will be able to ignore football results too.

          • carl jacobs

            We live in the days we are given. We live with the government we are given. We do the best we can with what we have at hand. It is futile to wish otherwise. So we might shudder at what we see around us, but even so we still exercise our responsibility as citizens. We don’t despair, surrender, and retreat from the fight.

            All this is lost anyways, Jack. It’s all going to burn. Hold it lightly, keep in mind that those who are with us are vastly greater than those who are against us, and remember the Engineers who kept RMS Titanic’s lights on to the very last. Do what must be done here in the present – as temporal and transient as it might be – and leave the future to God.

          • Thanks, Carl.

          • carl jacobs

            You mean for not mentioning that Man U has scored all of three goals in four matches? Or that its goalkeeper is moving to Spain?

            Because I can fix that. 😉

          • It gets worse. Today they’ve agreed to two of their remaining strikers leaving. Seems now they’re lining up a 19 year old French forward for an exorbitant fee. The goalkeeper can go. Jack hates disloyalty to a club over money.

          • bluedog

            It worked pretty well for centuries and there’s no reason to suppose it shouldn’t work again.’ So tell us what went wrong and how to fix it.

          • Our culture lost its Christian foundation. One wonders if this can be “fixed”.

    • William Lewis

      The tyranny of the masses is tempered by the tyranny of the well to do. At least that’s how it used to work.

      • carl jacobs

        Checks and balances based upon class interest?

        • William Lewis

          Yes, and their often associated cultures, traditions and wealth.

    • Albert

      So we don’t end up like the cousins.

      • carl jacobs

        More inscrutable British humor. Here, let me save the board the trouble of reacting to my blank stare of incomprehension.

        “He’s American, after all.”

        • Albert

          Well all that republicanism. It’s so vulgar.

          • bluedog

            You’re confusing federalism with republicanism. A sin beyond forgiveness.

          • Albert

            It’s all degrees within heresy, as far as I am concerned….:-)

          • carl jacobs

            Meh. We put an end to kings and nobility. No more idle Lords living in big houses as an entitlement of rank. No more degenerate scions who expect deference as a matter of birthright. If that’s vulgar, so be it.

          • Albert

            Yes, it’s truly shocking what you chaps did. 🙂

  • sarky

    Why is Anne Widdecombe not in the house of lords?
    One word…’strictly’.

    • The Explorer

      There’s a lot in that.

  • Orwell Ian

    Our pseudo-democratic electoral system ensures that the establishment agenda will prevail over popular will, therefore no one who is habitually off-message will be rewarded with a peerage. The HofL has been shamelessly stacked to the rafters with cronies and flatterers to ensure that the government of the day always gets its way.

  • She’s not in the HoL because she’s too sensible, clever and she’s a Christian!
    I notice there are many ex cons, spivs, criminals, fraudsters, perverts, porn kings and queens, in the House of Lords now. It wont be long before Call me Dave elevates a prostitute or two. She’s too good for that den . One can really say she is an honourable.

    • “Call me Dave elevates a prostitute or two.”
      Do you know something we don’t? Nowadays, it’s “sex workers”, Marie. Prostitute is very unPC and stigmatising.

      • Yes, I am aware of the new name HJ, but we all know what it means there’s no getting away from it. They are prostitutes.

        • chiefofsinners

          Whatever was wrong with ‘harlot’? And ‘sodomite’ for that matter?

          • Well nothing but we have made them no longer fashionable because we are dumbing down and normalising illegal and harmful activities.

    • Thats how they bring the HoL into disrepute; by filling it with cronies and crooks, then point at it and say “look its corrupt” then they can abolish it and replace it with a “senate” or just have the Brussels as our second chamber (Which of course it already is).

      • bluedog

        Isn’t Brussels the First Chamber?

  • David

    Ann Widdicombe is not in the H of L because she is too good a woman, an old fashioned, hard working, straight talking, old school, public servant and representative with oodles of intuition, common sense.
    Her cardinal “sin” in Cameron’s eyes is that she is too in touch with the ordinary people and too independent minded.
    The H o L is now packed with cronies and place men with no independence of thought, and no ability or interest in questioning or probing anything.
    We were better served by the pre-Blair Hereditary Peers system, as they gave their undivided loyalty to the whole country and not just to a particular wing of a single party. Now it is just full of crony politicos, sycophantic media types and total nonentities, all with their paw in the public purse.
    Ann – I salute you, your integrity and feel for what has served us best in the UK is of a high order. You have the confidence of many decent conservative types, including this one now in Ukip.

  • hyufd

    Baroness Widdecombe of Widdecombe sounds good

  • wyclif

    Excellent piece. As an American reader, I’ve noted many times that in the UK, if you oppose abortion on demand you are automatically classed a “religious extremist.” The N.I.C.E. does not tolerate dissent.

  • Inspector General

    One is still sore about his bicycles even after all these years, and their grievous loss only served to heighten the Inspector’s loathing of the criminal classes. It just goes to show the myriad of injustice in this world, of which the rotten borough that is the House of Lords is just one…

  • Pubcrawler

    No new UKIP peers, either. Is that not also a scandal? YG?

    • Inspector General

      Truly, tis a house of shame…

  • Simple reason that she was turned down for the Commons Speaker position, she is too independent minded and difficult to manipulate.

    • chiefofsinners

      The problem with the hereditaries is that as a group they tend to be out of touch with the realities of life, due to inherited privilege. At a time when we’re all complaining that politicians are out of touch, the return of the toffs would only make matters worse.
      Why not select members of the public at random? It could be you.

      • bluedog

        ‘The problem with the hereditaries is that as a group they tend to be out of touch with the realities of life, due to inherited privilege.’

        Good thing that doesn’t apply to the Monarchy.

        • The abolishment of the Lords is the path to removing the monarchy. A British Republic is so much easier to absorb into a globalised EU/US government.

          • chiefofsinners

            So long as Elizabeth reigns all is well. But Queen Camilla is a worse prospect than the new Lady Lingerie. I might prefer a global government.

          • bluedog

            On the contrary, abolition of the Lords in its current form and its replacement with an elected Senate within a Federal constitution confers democratic legitimacy on the Upper House. A federation is not in itself republican, as the federal monarchy of Spain proves. As it happens, the British monarchy has not lifted a finger to prevent the surrender of British sovereignty to the EU. Neither did the hereditaries in their day have any effect on this loss for the simple reason they were powerless. The current Upper House is simply an expensive rubber-stamp
            Take a step back and recognise that politics is about the acquisition and exercise of power. Over a long period of time absolute power within the UK has accrued within the office of the PM. Asquith, a toff, had no hesitation in emasculating the House of Lords when it suited his purpose. That was the real revolution, in 1911, when the Lords and by implication the Monarchy, were finally stripped of any vestige of power. Leaving the hereditaries in place yet powerless has concealed the true nature of Asquith’s coup, as your own post and a number of others attest.
            Let’s talk about legitimacy. All Kings, Christian princes and governors seek the aura of legitimacy that enables them to rule with unquestioned authority. Those holding office through right of descent claim legitimacy by virtue of ancestry, with some great and noble patriarch, or even matriarch, as a forbear from whom their legitimacy springs. We have moved from this hereditary legitimacy to democratic legitimacy, and as Asquith proved, democratic legitimacy trumps aristocratic legitimacy. If this were not true, the mob would have been in the streets in 1911 demanding renewed fealty to the peerage. The mob were silent, as is so often their wont.
            In short, the monarchy and aristocracy failed to defend the UK from potential extinction within the EU and a new power is needed. Of course, the Monarchy will remain as a figurehead in any future endeavour, the mob would have it no other way. But let’s be objective about where power lies today and has resided for over a century.

        • Not always. I thought they added value BECAUSE of their different vantage point. They were not all Tim nice but dims. The HoL has been considerably weakened since they were got rid of in line with the European Union’s plans to create the United States of Europe.

          • bluedog

            See above.

      • Because when you have people voting and scrutinising legislation you do not want to have a randomly selected person who could be ill-educated – i.e. without the knowledge needed to evaluate the bill.

        Those hereditaries were the ones that protected us from ID cards and other crazy ideas (both Labour and Tory) from being passed.

        The Lords should be based on intellectual and experiential merit, not some sort of egalitarian lottery.

        • chiefofsinners

          Yes
          – intellectual merit, i.e. not Lord Thick of Dimwit, which many of them are.
          – experiential merit, like experience of working for a living.
          Make a list of crazy ideas that the hereditary house failed to protect us from.

  • chiefofsinners

    Called a ‘dame’ by a celebate octogenarian. Now there’s a compliment.
    Maybe she could have a timeshare in Michael Howard’s peerage, seeing as he only rides forth after dark.

  • IanCad

    Don’t know much about her, but Ann Widdecombe – apart from her fox-hunting silliness – would seem to me an excellent addition to the HOL, if such is to be. As to the other lady; her endowments are hardly of the stuff to promote concentration on things not of the flesh.
    This subject was mooted a few weeks ago. Then as now; I say – keep only the hereditaries (92) plus the bishops.

    • David

      “As to the other lady; her endowments are hardly of the stuff to promote concentration on things not of the flesh.”
      Inspired comment – you’re becoming quite lyrical, if I may say so.

      • IanCad

        Thanks David. I hope wifey doesn’t look at the thread.

    • The Explorer

      That’s the most convoluted way of saying ‘nice knockers’ I’ve come across.

      • dannybhoy

        He’s a member of a ‘broad’ church…

    • James60498 .

      Have you tried that one on your wife when caught in admiration?

      “Sorry dear for looking at her, but I was just thinking that her endowments are hardly of the stuff to promote concentration on things not of the flesh.”

      • IanCad

        I am equipped with a state of the art EWACS system. It is on all the time. At the least approach of danger I turn my head away.
        Never failed yet. A few near misses, maybe.

  • David

    The Blair distortions have led by winding steps to the near destruction of the function of the upper House. How swiftly clumsy and hollow attempts at “reform” and being “progressive” have weakened the vital investigative and scrutiny stages of a Bill’s movement towards the statute books.
    A better arrangement would be a house comprising a fixed upper limit of peers, agreed across the parties after a thorough study. Composition should be hereditary peers, Bishops plus other faith leaders, and goodly chunk of the best and brightest from a wide cross section of including industry, trade, science and technology, military and arts; the latter group would be selected from a nation wide sampled poll, thus building an element of the will of the people.
    The nation was better served before this destruction from the Blair creature.

  • len

    I have great respect for Ann Widdecombe because she is a lady of principle.(Probably not a great selling point for a politician nowadays) and the powers that be are probably afraid that if she were admitted to the house of Lords that she would disturb the slumbers (of those who bother to turn up ) in the House.
    Anyway if the House of Lords collects many more members the whole edifice will probably collapse under the weight of them.

  • Inspector General

    Those who know the Inspector would realise that he rarely criticises without putting forward an alternative. And here is the HoL’s….

    1) Turf the whole lot out, priests and all, and start again from nothing.
    2) Reduce membership to 400
    3) Abolish this life peer business. Individuals only sit there for the duration of the parliament
    4) Membership to be allocated according to the % vote each party gets at the GE. Delegates to be chosen by the parties concerned. The party leader is responsible for sending the list through.
    4) Prevent anyone under 40 being allowed in. If young firebrands want to make a name for themselves, they’ll have to do it in the commons. And even in that place, you shouldn’t be allowed in if you are under 30.
    And finally, keep Lloyd George’s parliament act, and threaten the blighters with it if they have the idea of setting up a rival government in that place.

    • chiefofsinners

      It would just be a poodle of the Commons. Exactly mirroring the Commons in political makeup, and everyone’s job depends on loyalty to the party leader.

      (Sorry to criticise without putting forward an alternative.)

      • Inspector General

        No it wouldn’t mirror the MP allocation. And it would pay lip service to something called democracy. It’s up to the parties to decide who’s going to sit in the next administration. Ballot of the membership, maybe…

    • carl jacobs

      That’s actually the beginnings of a workable plan. Similar to the original US Senate in some ways.

      • Inspector General

        Praise from Caesar indeed!

    • IanCad

      Well, if we can’t – or won’t go back to the hereditary system – then this is a .good compromise. It worked in the US for a century. Or, more accurately, a version of it, as Carl stated.
      I really do think, when all is said and done – the less democracy the better.

      • Inspector General

        It will only be for a short time. About a hundred years or so. So we’ve plenty of time to come up with democracy’s successor. One should think that around 2115, the demographics of this country will be such that the possibility of an ‘enthusiastic’ Islamic government in the near future would be a real threat. No doubt by then, the country’s recent history will have been littered with the kind of terrorism seen abroad and what remains of the white population will be fearing when they become less than 50% thereof.

  • preacher

    The prime object of the HOL’s reform programme was to bring them into line with the Commons, to stop them being a brake on the general liberal, & secularist policies that the latter churn out & thoughtlessly dump on us.
    The problem is that if you take the brakes off your car in an attempt to go faster, the ultimate result is a multiple pile up.

    Anne Widdecome is a person of integrity, honesty, morality & experience. She is outspoken & she is a Christian – attributes which immediately make her too hot to handle in an environment of power.

    Michelle Mone is probably an astute business entrepreneur, who could hold a place in any boardroom, or on ‘Dragons Den’. But one feels that with no disrespect to Ms Mone , these are not the attributes that she has been chosen for, but as a symbol of the New look non coalition Conservative party, – modern, attractive & trendy. A Cameron ‘Babe’.
    It’s Sad to see an essential part of the balance of good government being wound down to nothing more than a shop window to advertise a party’s self image in, while it is slowly stripped of it’s power to function, or “interfere” with our political masters.

  • James60498 .

    Cameron will not appoint Ann Widdecombe to the HoL. More likely he will have her arrested for opposing “British values”.

    • michaelkx

      you mean his ideas of British values, which are: person of integrity, honesty, morality & experience, and she is a Christian. well with 5 ‘strikes’ against her no chance. i’d have her as PM no problem .

  • Sybaseguru

    HoL could be reduced to sensible size easily. We already have a subset of Bishops and Hereditaries, why not have a subset of the remainder based on General Election country % (PR style) with a party selection list based on eldest Lords first. This subset would be reselected after every election. UKIP & SNP could get a few Lords this way just to add some interest.

  • teigitur

    She is, generally speaking, way to sensible, for ” call me Dave” to promote to that place. Plus she is an RC and pro-life. Toxic to most politicians these days.

  • Anna

    A disturbing recent trend in democracies has been the selection of individuals -by vote or other means- to high office for which they have no proper knowledge, qualifications or experience. It is enough if they possess ‘charisma’, seem articulate and are willing to kowtow to certain vested interests.

    So you are actually getting an actor, compliant to popular moods, rather than a leader who can inspire and direct the energies of the nation to some worthwhile cause or make sensible decisions for the future. In no other field – science, medicine, business or cricket – would such choices be possible, yet these leaders direct the course of history.

    The danger of choosing such (mostly young and) immature leaders is particularly evident in 2 areas: 1. In the quality of people these leaders will then appoint to other important positions – bullies or puppets – rather than people with sound judgment and principles; choices that will eventually undermine great institutions and, 2. The readiness with which they will go to war with no thought of future consequences.

    In contrast, the people heading various dictatorships – China, Iran and Russia – may look (and well be) ‘mean’, but they are not naive or stupid. It often seems as if they are simply biding their time until the so-called free world digs itself into a dangerously deep pit. So you have these lambs facing wolves and the results can only be imagined.

  • IanCad

    I wonder how SamCam feels about this.
    Were I to promote a lady of such obvious talent and visibility my wife would make my life an absolute living hell.

    • CliveM

      Which one of the two ladies are you referring to here?!!!!!!

  • Tried to follow link to Michelle Mone OBE’s website but the site has been disabled. Interesting?

  • In Perfect Ignorance

    Somebody should tell Ms Widdecombe that we’ve moved on from the Thatcher era, and that the Zeitgeist is no longer all about sententious moralising and holier-than-thou Christianity. None of that would necessarily keep her out of the Lords, of course. No, she only has herself to blame for that.

    Tory politicians can’t abide hectoring women, although if those women are tenacious enough, they rise anyway. What holes their ships beneath the waterline is self-inflicted ridicule.

    It all comes down to Strictly and her inadequate impersonation of Big Bird thereon. We can’t have Muppets in the Lords. Most inappropriate.