From time to time those of us Brits who still can bring ourselves to support Britain’s dismal Tories like to tell ourselves that the party’s leadership has something more to it than the most spectacular death wish since Cleopatra wandered around clasping an asp. From time to time we are reminded how wrong we are.
Britain has a bicameral system of government. Until recently, the country’s ’senate’ (the House of Lords) was a motley blend of judges, bishops, hereditary peers and a mass of stooges, cronies and the retired appointed as ‘life peers’ by various grateful governments. It tended to the center-right. This was unacceptable to Tony Blair. He swept away most of the hereditaries (fair enough), boosted the number of cronies and made a few patronizing promises about the introduction of an ‘elected element’. Needless to say, the judges and, even more disgracefully, the bishops, clung to their seats.
Now, Blair is proposing to junk the remaining hereditaries (too many Conservatives), but he has nothing to say about that ‘elected element’. The Tories’ reaction? A spirited defense of, uh, the hereditary peers.
Talk about losing the plot. The Conservatives have an ideal opportunity to champion democracy. There should be no hereditaries, no bishops, no judges and no ‘life peers,’ just a fully elected upper house, and the Tories should say so. Instead, judging by this report in the Daily Telegraph , they are planning to mount a full-throated defense – of the hereditaries.