Tag Archives: House of Lords

So what did the Lords ever do for us?

The House of Lords provides us with what every proper democracy needs and which every single Law demands in unlimited portions.  WISDOM.

We may well caricature the Lords as the Westminster Chapter of God’s Waiting Room, populated by trembling, Zimmer-pushing geriatrics who spend their days farting and dozing on red leather whilst listening to each others’ arteries hardening, with only the occasional trip to nursey’s office to have the colostomy bag emptied………… It’s nothing like that.

The very first thing that strikes you is its very  “ordinariness”, its informality and its total lack of pomp.

It is certainly NOT full of self-important, puffed-up, swaggering aristos clipping jug-carrying flunkeys around the earhole, screaming  “Another tankard of Port, my man !!”

It is a quiet place. It a a place underpinned by mutual respect and the ability to listen.

None of the raucousness and noisome dissonance of the “other place”. None of the name-calling and playground punchups or “Leave him – he’s not worth it” attitude of the Lower House.

These are the “self-actualised”. Those who “have done it”, “seen it” and who know better.

In general, the House of Commons is anti too much reorganisation of the House of Lords. Ever wondered why?

Is it a rabid dislike of the “hereditaries”? Is it an over-developed sense of “democracy” ? Is it the “They should be elected NOT appointed…” group?

It is none of the above.

Most Honourable and Right Honourable Members of Parliament see the Lords as a reward, something to aspire to, a recognition of their years of selfless sacrifice and a final gift from the Establishment. They covet the ultimate status achievable within the United Kingdom. “Yes, My Lord!” ……It is their Gold Watch.

And why not?

They say that age is a price worth paying for wisdom. The average age within in the House of Lords is 65.

The average age in David Cameron’s Commons sand-pit is about 50.

Mind you, it is David Cameron who has done more to lower the “currency” of a Title  than any previous Prime Minister.  He ennobled 117 individuals within  12 months of coming to office. That told us a lot about his comparative youth, impetuosity plus his demand to impress. No point in complaining that “there are too many of them” (there are 818 voting Lords) after you have just added over 100 to the fire!

He was also aware that one of the major items on the Libdem shopping list was a reform of the House of Lords and that Nick Clegg needed a bone to play with. That is exactly what he was given. No more.

Currently, the Lords is a patchwork of hereditaries, politicians, lawyers, Anglican bishops and various “sundries” from public and commercial life. That is how it should be.

The alternative is an elected bunch of those bred-nurtured-and-educated purely for politics (it’s already happening in the Commons). Soulless and charisma-free Party wonks to whom commerce and normal life are a matter of wonderment and mystery.

On this occasion, let’s once again do what politicians do best. Leave it alone and wait.

Turkish Delight

It may come as a surprise to many but  there is one country not too far away from the collapsing Eurozone which is  going to be one of the E7.

“E7?” I hear you ask:  China, Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, Turkey, India and Russia.

In terms of economic output, these are the countries which will overtake the increasingly arrogant and shaky G7 cartel. It will happen within a generation and has been predicted by both Goldman Sachs and Price Waterhouse.

Apart from Turkey, all of the E7 are “over there somewhere”, whereas Turkey is on our doorstep – and we would do well to pay attention.

For the moment though, let’s park Turkey back  within the G20.

You may be forgiven for not knowing that last year, the The Turkish economy recorded the third-fastest G20 growth rate. The country was untouched by the current economic crisis and not a single Turkish bank failed.

Almost modestly, the Turkish government  slid onto the   World stage and presented itself as the voice of reason during the Libyan crisis.

They seem to be doing a lot right.

The Turkish community is the United Kingdom numbers about half a million – about 150,000 Turkish nationals with the rest of Turkish-Cypriot origin. They represent the epitome of integration, whilst maintaining their own traditions as well as contact with their country of origin – and the don’t make a noise about it.

Almost unnoticed, we have our first-ever woman of Turkish-Cypriot origin to be elected to the House of Lords:  Baroness (Meral) Hussein-Ece . She’s  already making an impact and adding a bit of much-needed administrative experience and glamour to what was rapidly becoming a Westminster rest-home for bilious ex-MPs.

She is a Liberal – but you can’t have everything! Seriously though, the important thing is that in what appears to be a Turkish trait, she is a straight talker – another attribute which has been sadly lacking in the recent political universe.

I was going to say “Turkey is Coming!” – but it seems that it’s already here!

Baroness Meral  is on Twitter and very worth following (@meralhece ) because her opinion on a variety of topics is now regularly sought by the media and whenever  she can, she shoots from the lip!

This, for example, is a link to her  interview today on Radio 4: CLICK HERE

Many of us are already smitten!

Lords minority groups (Is it ‘cos I is Black?)

Lord Taylor

I’m not sure why, but the conviction and imprisonment of Lord Taylor has made me uncomfortable. He is obviously NOT a crook and if we accept that Westminster expenses fiddling was a pretty ancient sport, his prosecution seems a bit extreme. Deep-down we also perceive that many of  Their Lordships have got away with it.

At £65K, our MPs are underpaid and I cannot think of a worse honour than becoming a Lord on a daily attendance allowance of £300 per day. If those incomes are annualised the actual  hourly rates are probably somewhere approaching the minimum wage.

The “forced” demographic profile of both Houses is another aspect of modern government which is beginning to look more and more ‘token’ and more decorative than practical. Why?  After many years of the “Let’s get some Johny Foreigners and coloureds in”policy, ethnic minorities continue to be under-represented at senior political level. It’s a national disgrace.

However, that does NOT appear to be the case as far as Lords who have been ‘busted’ in the expenses scandal. That is a list where minority groups are over-represented.

The whole expenses  affair (Lords and Commons) is symptomatic of the British unaccomodating and obdurate attitude  towards money and commerce.

THAT’S why we are unable to turn the occasional blind eye and why we continue to elect governments which allow their drumbeat to be set by the media.

THAT’S why we failed in our World Cup bid and that’s why we’re still moaning about Sepp Blatter’s election as President of FIFA.

THAT’S why we will never again win the Eurovision Song Contest.

THAT’S why appearances continue to matter more than pragmatism and success.

THAT’S why enjoy national self-flagellation  and the  ruining of public servants’ careers because ‘it’s the right thing to do’. (Is it right to break an individuals career for £15K?)

Admittedly, the Brits do not have that Jewish, Middle Eastern, or even Far Eastern ‘merchant mentality’ in which the goal is the deal and the deal is the goal, where financial ‘flexibility’ or  ‘an understanding’ wins the day.

NOT a po-faced inflexibility, commercial rigor mortis and constant accusation of dishonesty, misappropriation and banditry in others.

We are Victorians who have yet to awaken. Until then, the United Kingdom will move from having been a country which 100 years ago made things happen to a country which will soon be wondering what happened.

Here is the list of the Lords who were busted (note the ‘ethnics’):

Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe, LABOUR

Yorkshireman Clive Brooke pocketed more than £140,000 of overnight subsistence allowance in seven years by claiming for his mortgage-free house in Brighton instead of his £700,000 townhouse in Battersea, South London.

Viscount Falkland, LIB DEM

Hereditary peer Lucius Edward William Plantagenet Cary registered a two-bed house owned by his wife’s aunt near Maidstone in Kent as his main residence, paid no rent but spent most of his time at £500,000 townhouse in Clapham, South London.

Lord Rosser, LABOUR

Former union man Richard Andrew Rosser received £50,000 in overnight subsistence allowances since buying a flat in Chippenham, Wiltshire, in 2007 and ‘flipping’ his main residence from £750,000 four-bedroom home in Uxbridge, West London.

Baroness Neuberger, LABOUR

Rabbi Julia Babette Sarah Neuberger claimed £80,000 overnight subsistence allowances in five years by designating £237,000 flat in Leamington Spa instead of family’s £2.3million townhouse in Regent’s Park, central London.

Lord Taylor of Warwick, TORY

John David Becket Taylor, who is of Jamaican extraction,  claimed £70,000 over six years by saying his main residence was his dead mother’s house in Solihull – which had been sold – then his nephew’s friend’s house in Oxford, all while living in family home in Ealing, West London.

Baroness Goudie of Roundwood, LABOUR

Mary Teresa Goudie claimed £150,000 over eight years by saying her main residence is a Glasgow flat she bought for £200,000 in 2001, not the £1.5million mews house in Belgravia she shares with her husband.

Lord Paul, LABOUR

Indian-born Swraj Paul claimed £38,000 in less than two years by telling the Lords his main residence was the one-bed manager’s flat attached to a hotel owned by one of his companies in Chesterton, Oxfordshire, not his central London family home.

Lord Sheldon, LABOUR

Robert Edward Sheldon Claimed £130,000 over six years whilst owning a  £1.3million mortgage-free  flat in central London, he told authorities his main residence was a house in Manchester, which he in fact gave to his son in 2003.

Lord Bhatia, LABOUR

Tanzanian-born  Amirali Alibhai “Amir” Bhatia claimed more than £20,000 in two years by flipping main residence from £1.5 million family home in south London to a two-bed rented flat in Reigate, Surrey, occupied by his brother.

Lord Clarke of Hampstead, LABOUR

Former union man Anthony James Clarke claimed up to £18,000 a year despite often staying with friends for free or going back to his home in St Albans, Hertfordshire.

Baroness Uddin, LABOUR

Bandladesh-born Manzila Pola Uddin claimed £125,000 between 2005 and 2009,  second home allowance on her London property, claiming that she lived in Maudstone.

Lord Hanningfield, Conservative

Paul Edward Winston White has been found guilty of fiddling his House of Lords expenses and will be sentenced within six weeks.