Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Lord Who?

Much of the interest in the new list of working peers will doubtless centre on which of them have donated money to the two main parties - but I have long had a different bee in my bonnet about lists of this kind.

Basically it concerns the issue of the Liberal Democrats nominating former MPs for peerages who have achieved little of distinction in the Lower House.

Iain Dale has touched on this before in a post about Jenny Tonge, a Lib Dem MP chiefly remembered for making an injudicious comment about suicide bombers before later joining the conspiracy to bring down Charles Kennedy.

Now the party has nominated another two of its lesser lights for elevation to the ermine - former MPs John Burnett and Brian Cotter.

New Labour may have perpetrated some shameful abuses of the honours system, but at least it has the decency to nominate candidates who have actually achieved something, like long-serving former Labour MP, MEP and Europe Minister Joyce Quin.

I know the Lib Dems are short of people to nominate as working peers, but it seems wrong to me that you can become a peer simply by virtue of having been elected, for however short a time, as an MP.

The other point is that surely good Liberal Democrats ought to have more self-respect than to prop up what is basically a rotten system.

The sooner we move to electing the Lords the better for all concerned.

1 comment:

Voice from the South West said...

John Burnett was my former MP. I know his career hardly set the world alight, but for a Lib Dem he had some fairly, well, "Conservative" views, particularly on Europe. I suspect the Peerage is a sweetener to stop him falling out of the party completely.