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Sham elections in the House of Lords must be scrapped

July 9, 2018 11:09 AM
By Bryan Lewis
House of Lords election

Sham lords elections

With 12 votes, the Earl of Devon won a by-election to replace Earl Baldwin of Bewdley in the House of Lords. Earl Baldwin of Bewdley - grandson of former PM Stanley Baldwin - was one of 92 hereditary peers in the chamber who owe their title and their place in Parliament to the family into which they were born. Hereditary peers in the House are divided into political groupings and Earl Baldwin was one of 31 crossbenchers.

New Labour tried to reform the Lords but kept 92 hereditary peers. Instead of letting them gradually disappear, they put in place a system for their replacement following death or retirement that stipulates that a by-election must be held and that the voters will be the remainder of the relevant grouping. A grand total of 31 people had the right to vote in this by-election and they had 19 candidates to choose from.

No democrat can be comfortable with the fact that a member of one of the UK parliament's two chambers is being chosen from a list of 19 by a mere 31 others. Farces like this do a huge disservice to our politics. There have been a total of 32 by-elections since the first in 2002. Astonishingly, four by-elections have had more candidates than electors.

These sham elections in the House of Lords must be scrapped for good. This change should then act as a springboard to widespread reforms of the House of Lords, to bring an end to the Private Members Club culture which currently prevails. Then we can build a fairly-elected and representative legislature fit for the 21st century.

Other candidates included:

The 4th Baron Ravensdale,(35) AKA Daniel Mosley, great-grandson of wartime British fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley;

Lord Aldington (70), London chairman of Deutsche Bank and Morgan Grenfell Private Equity ;

Viscount Hood, a lawyer;

3rd Baron Bridges, Eton-schooled solicitor to the Queen;

The Earl of Eldon (56); barrister;

Lord (James) Meston, a former Circuit Judge;

The Duke of Hamilton and Brandon (40) -he has at least eight other titles;

The Earl of Carnarvon (61), whose vast Highclere Castle was used for the TV series Downton Abbey.

The worst thing about all this is that many of these candidates have possibly achieved more in their working lives than the scores of life peers who are appointed to the Lords by their political parties after second-rate careers in the Commons