Wednesday, May 19, 2010

So, you want to be a member of the House of Lords?

It appears that the whole Liberal Democrat world and their mother want to be one of our new Peers. Meanwhile, I'm ruled out on the not unreasonable grounds that my wife is on the Advisory Panel that creates a shortlist of recommended candidates for the Leader to consider. Bitter? Actually, not really, as appointing me would rather smack of desperation in any event.

We find ourselves in rather uncharted waters, following suggestions that between 50 and 100 new Liberal Democrat peers are required, although James Graham has graciously trawled his hard drives for the relevant information, so I won't repeat it. However, I'd like to disagree with him somewhat in terms of his conclusions.

I tend to think that our system of electing a list of potential candidates is, in itself, flawed. The quota required to gain election is small, and I suspect that any group of individuals could ensure that one of their number, no matter how unlikely or unsuitable, could find a place on the list. Indeed, with Facebook, Twitter and other social media, I suspect that e-savvy candidates could be rather over-represented.

No, I'd look to a process of nomination, based on the stated criteria, whereby members of the Party nominate individuals they believe are worthy of inclusion, and let the Advisory Panel decide. After all, we could find some candidates that we might not have expected.

Naturally, there will be a number of ex-MP's who will expect to be accommodated, but they're mostly white, male and middle-aged, so they won't do much in terms of diversity. There will also, I fear, be a number of individuals who have been many things yet done relatively little, clamouring for honours too. The Panel will doubtless have to withstand some pressure here.

There are some risks too. In populating an enlarged second chamber, there is a risk of stripping out some excellent potential MP's and MEP's, as well as denuding our lists of a disproportionate number of women and BME approved candidates.

So I wish the Advisory Panel the best of luck. I sense that they may be grateful of it...

2 comments:

Jennie said...

Aside from anything else, ennobling you would lead to a niughtmare spaghetti tangle of titles between you and El Presidente...

Andrew Hickey said...

I definitely *don't* want a peerage. And I agree our present system is flawed (there's at least one name on the current list who got there in precisely the manner you describe despite unsuitability). But if we want to do away with nominated peers altogether within a few years, I don't see much point in changing the system now...