The latest attempts to reform Britain’s ‘Senate’, the House of Lords, took place in the early years of the Blair government with significant changes in the membership of that supposedly august body. The hereditary component was greatly reduced, leaving effective control with the so-called ‘life peers’, a motley collection of the (supposedly) good and the great appointed to the House by successive governments. This change was always seen as a first step in the modernization process – the next step was, allegedly, to try and make the House of Lords rather more democratic. Prime Minister Blair, who always rather liked the idea of packing the place with ‘Tony’s cronies’, was never quite so sure.
And, nor it seems, are Britain’s dim Tories. In a number of votes last week, they showed once again that they are incapable of embracing either good sense or popular policies. More Conservative MPs voted for Blair’s preferred option of an all-appointed Lords than opted for their own leader’s proposal – an all-elected Lords.