Leading Article: This is what you get when a Tory Lord is put in charge
Tuesday 02 November 1999
They would like up to a quarter of the upper house to be elected - up to a quarter! They want to keep the bishops, although they want some representatives of other denominations and faiths, too. Funny how the great and the good always see greatness and goodness in their own image. The strange thing is that they want to keep the Law Lords too, even though there are none on the Royal Commission.
This is an appalling outcome for what is, as the Tory leader in the Lords, Thomas Galbraith (aka Lord Strathclyde), disingenuously puts it, a once- in-a-generation opportunity to get it right. For all Tony Blair's skill in persuading the hereditary peers to go quietly with his divide-and-rule plan for an interim House, he now seems poised to pass up the historic chance at the end of this century to finish the business that was started at its beginning, that of creating a truly democratic Parliament out of the feudal relic inherited from our unrevolutionary past.
This is a real test of Mr Blair's claims to be a radical, a moderniser, and the humble servant of the people. Paradoxically, it was another Conservative, James Mackay (the former lord chancellor, Lord Mackay of Clashfern) who offered Labour the best blueprint for a reformed second chamber - directly elected senators serving 15-year non-renewable terms of office.
If the interim arrangement ends up as a stepping-stone to an Upper House that is mostly appointed through the discredited and discreditable, secret and self-selecting processes of the British Establishment, Mr Blair will be exposed as an unprincipled opportunist. If it is the precursor to a fully democratic Upper House under a different electoral system from that of the Commons, he will deserve to go down in history as a truly great constitutional reformer.
The moment of truth approaches.
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Students heading off to 'charity challenge' grounded at Gatwick after travel firm goes bust
- 2 Notting Hill Carnival: Woman shares selfie after being ‘punched in face for telling man to stop groping her’
- 3 Daily Show's Jon Stewart destroys Fox News for its Ferguson coverage
- 4 When elitism grips the top of British society to this extent, there is only one answer: abolish private schools
- 5 Like Jennifer Aniston, I am no less of a woman because I am childless
Great British Bake Off 2014: Diana Beard quits after falling ill
Friends reunion: Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow and Courteney Cox perform mini sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live
Strictly Come Dancing v X Factor: Simon Cowell blasts BBC over scheduling war
Doctor Who series 8: Ofcom will not investigate lesbian kiss
Burning Man Festival 2014: Thousands gather in Nevada's Black Rock Desert a day late after rain postponed official start
Exclusive: We share blame for creating 'jihad generation', says Muslim strategist
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
Ukip Douglas Carswell defection: Tory MP jumps ship to join Nigel Farage
- < Previous
- Next >