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Noblesse Oblige

We're under the thumb of the worst kind of aristocracy | Ross Clark - Times Online

At the risk of getting my backside blasted with a twelve-bore, I feel like falling to my knees at the gates of my local nob's house and saying sorry.
I was one of those who cheered on Tony Blair when he embarked on his mission to rid the House of Lords of hereditary peers....How dare these old buffoons, who are only in Parliament because some distant ancestor slept with Edward II, try to throw their weight around in a democracy, I thought...I now realise, though, that they were staunch upholders of civility and decency compared with the mercenary toadies that have replaced them. Somehow I can't imagine the late Duke of Devonshire trying to squeeze £120,000 out of a lobbyist to help to gain an exception on business rates - not even if the roof at Chatsworth had fallen in and he had worn through the leather patches on his elbows.
The appalling thing about the current House of Lords is that it has become a receptacle for all manner of wannabe politicians who would fail if they put themselves up before the electorate: MPs who have lost their seats, party donors with little popular appeal, and retired, often disgraced, Cabinet ministers who use the place like a free gentlemen's club....
Maybe there is something, after all, to be said for an upper parliamentary chamber made up entirely of hereditary peers, whose hands are unsullied by trade and who - in some cases, at least - have had a notion of public duty drummed into them from an early age...

Ross Clark then spoils his argument by suggesting driectly elected Lords, as though adding more bad apples to the barrel will make it better.

The advantage of hereditary peers was that they didn't have to seek short term approval or reward. They could afford to take a long term view informed by a sense of history, and by their position of influence being inheritable they were incented to ensure stability continued so they could pass it on to their heirs.
No other system is as good, though the old Greek habit of choosing some legislators by lot comes close. What we don't want is a House of Commons 2.0

Comments

I don't see directly elected peers happening soon. The various plans and schemes cooked up get waved away because it reduces the supposed superiority of the Commons. Particularly if they were proportionally represented. The more representative the chamber, the more legitimacy it has apparently. Actually, perhaps that would be good - Lords having more legitimacy to block shit legislation but the Commons continuing as is.

The hereditary peers were nobbled out of spite and envy. Most did a bloody good job, were far more learned than the Commons lot and had a wealth of experience. Their replacements were always going to be beholden to whomever had put them in the Lords.

Aristocracies come and go (Old Churchill's dad WAS a ...!) but they ALSO supply an indispensable dimension of something very like /endurance/ to society -- and I don't mean these self-created "meritocrats" and crass cash climbers on the lines of Lying Lord Mendacityson and these jaded cock knockers like la Murdoch -- I mean people who have INHERITED titles, OLD titles, only maybe some money to go with it, but, above all, THEY ACTUALLY BELONG SOMEWHERE.

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