House of Lords: Why Pseudo-Lords are pro-EU

It means we will have to join Europe Lord Chatham

Legislative chambers of sage elders are politically unfashionable, though they crop up oddly often in science-fiction films set on other planets. While in galactic fantasy (particularly American galactic fantasy), vaguely imagined senior councils of wise dudes are standard fare, for many of Britain’s proudly bland corporate types the fact their country still has one of these things for real touches a raw nerve. [pullquote]Stop Press: Experts say UK weather set to worsen following Brexit.[/pullquote]

The House of Lords has for just over a century been an embarrassment for a certain kind of self-consciously modern-minded urban Briton. It makes them cringe: the wigs, the funny robes ….lords writing to the Times signing their letters ‘Norfolk’ or ‘Kent’. While our love of dressing up for fun continues (mourners at the death of David Bowie this year missed his wild range of outfits almost as much as his music), dressing up for serious, let alone ritual, reasons rubs a lot of us up the wrong way. Foreigners are more relaxed about enjoying our culture: One 1970s Philadelphia funk band not only adorned themselves in tinsel robes and coronets, but actually named themselves ‘Parliament’. So weird costumes are fine in this era, even welcomed, as long as the spirit is mocking or ironic.

But June’s vote to leave the EU has given a strange new angle to everything, the House of Lords included. Several things stand out.

One is that many members of the upper chamber are – right now – threatening to disrupt Britain’s exit from the European Union. Notice how its members are now overwhelmingly packed with recipients of grace-and-favour peerages, of the type recently making both David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn look silly. After Tony Blair’s confused attempt to reform the Lords in 1999, almost all the hereditary peers were removed, leaving around 90 as the “sand in the shoe” to promote further reform. So today’s obstruction to the democratic decision of British voters wishing to leave the EU comes not from the birthright aristos, but from the life peers. These people were gradually filling the place up for much of the 20th century between Lloyd George’s honours-for-cash scandal and Tony Blair’s honours-for-loans scandal. Since the mass eviction in 1999 of over six hundred hereditary peers, the life peers now hugely outnumber the people the chamber originally served to gather in one room.

It makes sense the life peers want to stop Britain leaving the EU. Most current Lords members are overwhelming from the class of people who got Brexit and the EU wrong. These are the same desk weasels that clutter Brussels and Strasbourg committee rooms, doing (they believe) serious & valuable work harmonising complex legislation from the different (oh such a backward, primitive word!) nations still marring the smooth uniformity of the great tariff cartel.

Furthermore, life peers and Eurocrats fulfil similar roles. Their chambers have similar functions. They’re places where people who think they’re meritocrats can take time off from proving their merit. Brussels is a bit like those first-class waiting rooms at major airports where businessmen get free brandies. Good food, seamless WiFi, smart addresses where someone who isn’t actually liked very much by the rest of us can hang out on expenses, deciding things. These people imagine themselves as councils of sage elders, even if they more resemble conventions of retired salesmen. People like Peter Mandelson or Neil Kinnock can move from struggling to get a bit of power in London surrounded by enemies – to smoothly acquiring oodles of influence in Brussels without a critic in sight.

What blessed balm for wounded egos being one of the Commissioners must be after the rough and tumble of Westminster yah-boo name-calling! After all, president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker (“When it gets serious, you have to lie”) had his elected political career ended by a spy scandal in Luxembourg. The European Commission is a sort of life-peer-ised House of Lords for EU-apparatchiks. In turn these apparatchiks see our Blairised upper house as an antechamber to the more glamorous EU institutions.

Realising what the life peers have become, it’s hard not to ask what the House of Lords view on Brexit would be if the 650+ evicted hereditary peers (I have trouble not calling them real peers, but I must manfully try) were still the majority. Is there really any dispute they would be supporting the Leave voters?

If for no other reason than that their tenant farmers have been telling them for decades how much ordinary Britons hate and distrust the EEC/EC/EU? Despite their lack of technocrat credentials, lots of their lordships actually appear to listen to their tenant farmers. It would of course be appallingly rude to suggest that many of Britain’s nobility understand better what upsets normal people in this country than most MPs, so let’s pass that by. Instead recall the eerie summer months of 2003 when Britain suddenly realised Tony Blair had pledged a US president our loyalty in a bizarre American war. Pledged it so firmly that an inquest into the strange death of a weapons expert was cancelled on its first day – a man who had predicted he would be found “dead in the woods” and then was. Thinking back to 2003, who can really doubt that had the pre-1999 hereditary peers still dominated the House of Lords, they would have voted to delay? At a crucial moment when a pause for reflection was exactly what was needed?

Sometimes over here in Eastern Europe I get an odd shock when engineers, programmers, managers (exactly the kinds of Brit who blush with angry shame that the UK has a House with actual Lords in it) casually list for me reasons why they think hereditary peers are good for Britain. Slavs and Magyars tell me hereditary nobles think of their future family reputations, motivating them to be less corrupt…; if Hungary/Poland/Italy/etc had “real” aristocrats, they go on, this or that two-faced elected rodent could have been stopped…; lordships by inheritance make it harder to change the constitution quickly or stupidly, their family histories giving them a long view…; the hereditary peers add some gravitas that scuzzy but snobbish elected buffoons want to live up to. The list goes on.

Is it surprising that people who spent generations under communism should be positive about one of Britain’s most sneered-at ancient institutions? Both East Bloc and Mediterranean countries understand that autocracy corrupts, but they grasp how badly wrong pure democracy can go too. They also know just restoring a token king doesn’t fix everything. They’re no longer reflexively anti-American as they had to be in Soviet days, but they’re not uncritically pro-US now either.

This means June’s vote to step away from the latest dimwit Franco-German project to unify Europe is a chance to ponder my East Bloc friends’ questions.

So …since the removal of almost all hereditary peers in 1999, has British politics become a little more corrupt? Have elected politicians cut a few more corners, now there’s no-one left in their way who’s really different from them? No longer under the jaded gaze of the centuries-old families, has the country’s constitution been changed quickly or stupidly?

Last but not least, have Britain’s elected politicians since 1999 become slightly more clownish? More unscrupulous, less dignified?

Take as long as you need to answer. No rush.

Mark Griffith keeps a weblog at http://www.otherlanguages.org

6 Comments on House of Lords: Why Pseudo-Lords are pro-EU

  1. Mr. Griffith appears ready to knuckle his forehead and bend his knee to his “betters”. There are many “conservatives” who cherish the Disneyworld carnival that is British political society, with it’s worthless monarchs (about to get even more so), dotty Earls, Lords of this and that, and here and there. They are of course very much part of the incompetent failure machine that is the British political establishment. Meanwhile common purpose sets the political agenda and achieves it’s collectivist, multicultural ends.

  2. From my research I have found (I know this will sound crazy) that the old Roman empire is the new Europe. One sign is the fiat currency we use.

    Europe, UK and USA have debt paper. Not real money. Digits on a screen. Government has given private central banks the power to create money through loans. When you use fiat currency the more you print, the more you dilute the currency. Only empires can have this because it’s a promise to pay.(look on your bank note) If another country knows the paper we use is worth nothing they won’t trade for it.

    You can’t print gold. Usually you print a receipt coupled to the amount of gold you have and going to the Private Bank of England you should be able to exchange it for gold. Slowly we have been robbed and enslaved with debt.

    Banks have had this power for years and in your mind you might think you know why food prices go up. The cost of living as a whole goes up. Except one thing stays the same. Your salary! What you didn’t know is the real reason prices are going up is because people have borrowed money. A bank creates 10 times more than the original sum of the loan a person has taken. If you borrow 10k they can make 100k through fractional reserve banking. The problem is that when they create this fake money when you paid the loan back the interest they put on it is imaginary and there isn’t any paper to pay for that because only the loan was created and not the interest.

    This causes inflation. The banks make trillions as they steal the real wealth. Own all housing, mortgages. They don’t even have any real money to lend so simple yet so slick. The inflation of the money supply makes it harder to pay back loans and pay for the cost of living. You need more money to pay for the same things.

    So the prices have gone up so quick but wages never meet the rise. Then cheap labour from overseas to stop us demanding more money
    We get called lazy and our jobs given to others. Then we blame the foreigners lol. They don’t call it veni verdi vici for nothing. We came. We saw. We conquered. 😉

    If you watch Four Horsemen they talk about how business used to work. All the workers owned part of the company. There should n3ver be more than 6/1 ratio on salary. Banks are now at 500/1.

    Now because of Brexit we set ourselves free from the Romans in Europe. Now all we have to do is shut down the city of London (private) corporation which is ruled under European Roman law. Look up Londinium. We have two cities of London. City of London and Greater London. The private one houses the palace, finance the lot!

    If you want to know more. Scroll my page.
    Hidden secrets of money is good to watch. 7 stages of empire. John harris its an illusion if you want to know about politics. RSA animate changing education paradigm by Sir Ken Robbinson. Inside job. All mainstream no conspiracy theories. I’m half Dutch. Holland is Roman Catholic and they have Roman law. Just put the pieces of the puzzle together.

  3. “I have trouble not calling them real peers, but I must manfully try”

    Don’t try! They are pitiful weaklings, of course, whose decadence is responsible for a lot of Britains’ decline, but they are nonetheless real peers.

    Wouldn’t it be fun to hear the howls if the Commons voted to expel all the life peers? I don’t know what argument they’d use to oppose it, but the sputtering would be magnificent.

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