Nick Clegg’s plans for reform of the Lords so crazy, an absolute disaster impends says Boris

Boris Johnson’s Daily Telegraph article today deals with House of Lords reform. Needless to to say, the Lib Dem’s plans on this issue find no favour with our Mayor.

Boris begins:  “Oh, for heaven’s sake. Look at the state of the world, and the sheer urgency of the issues we should be discussing here in this rare and sacred columnar space. The eurozone continues its slow dance of death, British troops are   being killed in Afghanistan, trade union militants are triggering strikes   with a minority of their members – and I have to write about the proposed Clegg reform of the House of Lords!

Of all the subjects that crowd my teeming brain, this is not the one that I would normally choose. I could be singing a hymn of praise for my old chum   Gove and his brilliant new Gove-levels (and bring back the S-level, while   you are at it, Michael). I could have loaded up my surface-to-air batteries   and discharged them against the crackpot plan to force the poor people of  west London to cope with tens of thousands more eardrum-jangling,   kerosene-belching flights into Heathrow.

We could now be discussing Ed Miliband’s hopeless and intellectually dishonest speech about   immigration; or how you can cut taxes and raise more money from rich people like Jimmy Carr. I could have given you my theory about the phenomenal success of this new porn novel called Fifty Shades of Grey, and the challenge it poses to us feeble members of the male sex, and the general   conclusions we are obliged to draw about the chronic and appalling human   interest in bondage, submission and government all round.”

Boris continues:  “Any of these themes is potentially more juicy and more relevant to our lives –   and yet I have no choice. I must tell you about these blasted reforms of the Lords, because I have just been made aware of some of the details, and the blood runs cold. An absolute disaster impends. It really seems to be the case that the Coalition (actually the Lib Dems) wants to push on with a   system of elected “senators” – 300 of them – to replace the present Upper   House. These people will apparently draw a full parliamentary salary, they   will have all the usual researchers and correspondence units, and they will   luxuriate in power for a full and unchallengeable 15-year term! The whole   thing will cost about half a billion pounds over five years, according to the Labour peer Lord Lipsey.

It is all completely unnecessary. Somehow, time and custom has produced a   House of Lords that works. Their lordships are a vast, gentle and liver-spotted repository of wisdom. When you listen to their debates, it is   transparent that they are not sharp-elbowed creatures. They betray  no   particular anxiety to make their name or to suck up to the whips. They may   take the odd power nap and they may not all be in the first flush of youth.   But they seem, on the whole, to have the interests of the country at heart”

Boris continues:  “The Upper House has soldiers and airmen and scholars and lawyers and   scientists and film directors and heaven knows what – many of whom would not   dream of seeking election on a party-politicalticket. Week in, week out they beaver away, revising and improving the   legislative Horlicks that they get from the Commons; doing nothing much, as the old analysis has it, and doing it rather well.

They have tended for a long time to be more representative of society than the   Commons – there are more people from ethnic minorities, there are more   women, more disabled people. It is probably true that there are more bishops   in the Lords than there are in the population at large, but who cares?   There’s nothing like a bishop or two to add a touch of class and restraint   to a revising chamber. They still have a few of the less obviously inbred   hereditaries, in a gesture not just to the ancient roots of the institution   but also to the fundamentally different nature of the Lords. It is crucial   to the success of the Upper House that it is somehow at a distance from   party-political machines, and above all that it is at one remove from the electorate.

Now the Lib Dems  are proposing that voters should have a new type of politico –   a “senator” – with his or her own direct mandate and constituency. This will   be confusing for the voters, who will be wondering whether they should be   writing to their local councillor, their MP, their Euro-MP or their senator;   and it will be even worse for the egos of these bozos. Consider for a second   who is likely to seek election to the Lords/Senate. People who have never   made it to Parliament; people who have been flung out of Parliament;   has-beens; never-wozzers; people who can see the opportunity to avenge their  rejections by finding an alternative route to power. Once ensconced in the Lords they will remain there for three solid parliamentary terms, swanking, swaggering and using the headed stationery for their shopping lists.

Suddenly, the politically thrusting characters of this country will work out   an alternative career structure, a new way of achieving ministerial office.   And if they decide to take on their green-benched colleagues in the Lower House, as they inevitably will, who will be able to shut them up?   A direct   mandate is a powerful thing. Look here, mate, a senator will be able to say   to a poor old MP, you were elected by 70,000 people. I have 570,000 people   in my constituency – and I don’t have to worry about them kicking me out.   The whole beauty and balance of the present system would be wrecked. We   accept the idea that the Lords is the “Upper House” only because the Commons   – being elected – has the real primacy and the real democratic legitimacy.   These reforms would undermine that primacy, and the status of MPs – already bashed by the expenses business – would become positively Lilliputian.

Boris concludes:  “The Prime Minister was completely right when he said that reform of the House   of Lords was something the government should consider in its third term.   This plan is a bunch of tidy-minded Lib Dem nonsense. It would create a new,   grandiose, expensive and unnecessary class of political hack. It would turn   Parliament into a chronic feud between two types of elected representative.   Clegg’s scheme needs to be liquidated, vaporised and generally terminated with extreme prejudice.

2 responses to “Nick Clegg’s plans for reform of the Lords so crazy, an absolute disaster impends says Boris



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s