A hereditary peer by-election is everything you'd expect it to be. And worse.
The House of Lords is in the midst of a hereditary peers’ by-election, and the candidates are as diverse as you might expect: combining backgrounds in the …landownership and banking.
First up, a bit of background. In 1999, the House of Lords Act kicked out all but 92 hereditary peers.
But instead of reducing that number over time, there was a fudge of a fudge – those on the ‘Register of Hereditary Peers’ would be allowed to stand and fill the place – with an electorate composed entirely of hereditary peers from the deceased member’s political group.
So unless you are one of the 31 lords eligible to cast a ballot in this crossbench hereditary vote, sadly you miss out on this one.
Except, well, some of the peers’ statements are worth reading for their poetry alone.
Lord Hill’s, for example, reads simply:
I wish to come and give my support for Brexit.
I have been in farming.
In case you are an eligible elector, may we have the temerity to make the following recommendations, commoners though we are?
Lord Mostyn, for example, whose skills derive from having inherited a lot of land, is worth considering:
I have years of experience in local businesses as I run an estate that covers much of Wales.
Lord Hayter, who lists his hobbies in his statement, sounds like a thoroughly nice man:
I am a parish councillor, classical guitarist, sculptor and gardener.
Lord Aldington business ties are impressive but not unique among the ten hereditary peers on the list, his statement opening:
Followed family into banking…
And finally, for the wildcard candidate, you can’t beat Lord Cadman, who’s contribution is…
[No statement submitted.]
There’s a serious point here. The successful aristocrat will have a vote on our laws for life. That many of those in the running have barely a tweet’s worth of words in their election statement says a lot about entitlement and the state of British democracy today.
This isn’t the first and probably won’t be the last hereditary by-election. We just hope this farce ends before it stops being funny…Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.