True, Alf Dubs brings his experience in the Commons and recent distinguished service as director of the Refugee Council. Josie Farrington, chairwoman of the Association of County Councils, has expertise in local government. Derek Gladwin, a career trade union official, has proved himself as a backroom Labour Party fixer. Yet none of them will refresh the party's narrow political class. It is no excuse for Labour that the Government has shown so much partisanship and so little imagination in stuffing quangos with its supporters; indeed one of Labour's strongest claims to power is that the entire system of public patronage needs sluicing.
Neil Kinnock trawled academia and elevated Baroness Blackstone, master of Birkbeck College. But why not be more radical: ennoble the singer Billy Bragg - the 'big- nosed bard from Barking' - or his adenoidal namesake, Melvyn? The thriller-writer Ken Follett - Labour's answer to Lord Archer - would surely wake up ermine-clad slumberers.
The world of business offers excellent candidates. Christopher Haskins, chairman of Northern Foods, is a party loyalist and author of a stimulating radio series on economic and social issues. Steve Shirley, whose computer services company pioneered flexible work at home for women, is a good option.
To give peers first-hand knowledge of poverty, Labour could nominate Bob Holman, former professor of social administration at Bath University. Now a neighbourhood worker in Easterhouse, near Glasgow, one of Britain's poorest council estates, he runs food co-operatives and credit unions. Who better to debate the Lords' daily attendance allowance?Reuse content