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Lords a-blogging
April 1, 2008 8:11 AM   Subscribe

Lords of the Blog is a collaborative blog written by Members of the House of Lords for the purposes of public engagement - a pilot project.

Or why not nominate someone for memberhip of the House of Lords? Citizens of the UK, Ireland and Commonwealth only, I'm afraid.
posted by Phanx (17 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
If they want public engagement they could trying giving this "democracy" thing a whirl
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:26 AM on April 1, 2008


This whole aristocracy thing is so weird to me, I mean:

"In response to a post by Baroness d’Souza, Bedd Gelert makes the valid point that it is difficult to know who members are."


They have to explain who they are because the public doesn't know. A semi-democratic country where half of the legislature are people that no one has any control over, or knows who they are. Madness.

I suppose the blog is helpful, but eliminating aristocracy entirely and replacing it with a Republic would be a much bigger step forward, I would think. With all the problems with the American form of government, at least it's (usually) possible to fire (most of) the bastards.
posted by MythMaker at 10:53 AM on April 1, 2008


The fact that no-one has any control over them is supposed to be one of their advantages - they're able to do what they think is right rather than obeying party leadership. There have been times in recent years when they actually seemed like the only effective obstacle to all kinds of illiberal Blairite measures.

Not that there isn't a certain piquancy about the situation. As a junior civil servant years ago, I used to have to do Explanatory Memoranda for the Lords explaining what the latest EC Commission proposals were about - two powerful bodies creating laws for the UK, neither of them with the slightest hint of democracy.
posted by Phanx at 11:25 AM on April 1, 2008


Advantage? But what's their qualification for the job? Who their parents were?

Again, the American system is hardly perfect (I mean, our current president's only qualification was who his parent is), but you at least have to convince people that you're qualified to run things.

With an aristocracy you're born into it. How feudal and barbaric.
posted by MythMaker at 11:28 AM on April 1, 2008


With an aristocracy you're born into it. How feudal and barbaric.

Barbarians actually tended to have a measure of democracy. That's why the beach boys celebrated them.
posted by srboisvert at 11:36 AM on April 1, 2008


With an aristocracy you're born into it. How feudal and barbaric.

Mythmaker, what are you talking about? Most of the hereditary peers have been eliminated from the House of Lords. Baroness d'Souza, the 'aristocrat' you mentioned in your earlier comment, is a scientist and human rights campaigner.
posted by verstegan at 11:51 AM on April 1, 2008


This is interesting. Thanks.
posted by gaspode at 12:10 PM on April 1, 2008


They have to explain who they are because the public doesn't know. A semi-democratic country where half of the legislature are people that no one has any control over, or knows who they are. Madness.

Riiiiiiiiight. Cos every American knows who their senators and representatives are. To be honest, when I saw this, first thing I thought was - damn, they should have this for Congress or at least the Senate.
posted by ginbiafra at 12:56 PM on April 1, 2008


Advantage? But what's their qualification for the job? Who their parents were?

As verstegan has pointed out, the hereditary peers have been reduced to a pool of 92 under the House of Lords Act 1999, which explicitly states No-one shall be a member of the House of Lords by virtue of a hereditary peerage.. The 92 are excluded as a supposed transitional measure; they are actually elected by the other peers sitting as an electoral college (although divided in a complicated fashion by party). The Lords Spiritual (archbishops and such) have remained unchanged for a century. The majority of Lords is now "life peers", effectively appointments by the Prime Minister. In other words, it works a bit like the U.S. Supreme Court does (the House already included the appointed Law Lords, which perform the equivalent function).

The current debate is whether the make-up of the upper house now reflects too much the party in power. Commons voted in 2007 to consider reform measures to make Lords 80% or 100% elected, but reached an impasse because Lords voted in favor of a fully appointed house. Reform is pro forma a plank in the Labour platform, but Brown, like Blair, is hesitant to push it when he has other priorities. Deciding whether to do it before or after the next election is a warmish topic.
posted by dhartung at 1:13 PM on April 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I like the idea of appointing a certain percentage of senators to lifetime positions actually.

Maybe a governor with the approval of the state legistlature can appoint one of the states two senators to life terms, with the other being elected.

Gets them out of the grubby business of selling votes for campaign donations.
posted by empath at 1:53 PM on April 1, 2008


I'm not a fan of an unelected representative chamber, but I'm not sure I'm all that hot on the alternative either. It seems to me that the UK now is overrun with career politicians who have followed the career path of student politician-->parliamentary researcher--> policy wonk--> safe seat nominee. These people have never done anything else and are beholden to the party hierarchy for their living. The result has been a supine Commons devoid of intra-party debate, as hordes of the back benchers can't afford to bite the hand that feeds them. Much though it pains me to say it, the Lords have represented the only barrier to some of the more egregious stupidity proposed by these people.
It may be an idea to have a chamber elected on a different, longer term from the Commons, but it's difficult to see how to prevent it from becoming either an extension of the current party political system or a celebrity phone vote. Nevertheless, I ultimately agree with Tony Benn in that, inefficient though it may be, you should have the opportunity to remove those who are making decisions on your behalf, so elected chamber it should be.
posted by Jakey at 1:53 PM on April 1, 2008


It would be interesting to see the United States Senate start a blog along these lines.
posted by beagle at 1:57 PM on April 1, 2008


This is, ahem, rather fascinating, I must say. There are, however, numerous other Lords I much prefer, including: Lord of the Rings, Lord of the Flies, Lord of War, and Lord of the Dance, Michael Flatly. The Lords of the Blog can be somewhat ... boring.
posted by jabberjaw at 2:19 PM on April 1, 2008


The Lords Spiritual (archbishops and such) have remained unchanged for a century.
I thought a few of them were looking a bit peaky.
posted by patricio at 4:23 PM on April 1, 2008


Maybe a governor with the approval of the state legistlature can appoint one of the states two senators to life terms, with the other being elected.

Of course you realize that for the first half of its existence, the US Senate was selected by the state legislatures.

I have often considered the idea of returning to that scheme to have merit. Once they became elected by the people, the state governments themselves ceased to have a meaningful voice in federal government.

As for the House of Lords, there are quite a few upper houses in fully democratic countries that have indirect election. It isn't a necessity, in other words, to become a wholly popularly elected body.
posted by dhartung at 9:46 PM on April 1, 2008


Maybe I've just been watching too much Doctor Who, but I can't get the phrase "Time Lord" out of my head now. Damn it.

The title of their blog is hilarious, though.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 7:12 AM on April 2, 2008


Fascinating. I guess I don't know much about the current aristocracy in the UK.

So, it's still aristocrats, right? I mean, a normal person is not permitted to run for it?

I read the wikipedia page about the House of Lords Act, it's a bit confusing to me - is it other aristocrats who vote? Who actually chooses these people? If you hold a peerage, does that automatically give you the right to vote for the House of Lords, and then every single other person in the country has no say? Or am I misinterpreting it?
posted by MythMaker at 1:43 PM on April 2, 2008


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