This post was originally published on this site

Via @glynbeddau

In some ways the House of Lords should resemble a Phd examiner who sees the first draft of a project, thesis or dissertation often consisting of a body of original academic research and decide it not good enough send it back with suggestions for improvements .

It should not be rejected  if it contradicted the examiners bias however and the argument over subjective and objective history may well occur,

Now  of course  after The House of Lords inflicted a series  embarrassing defeat on Theresa May’s government on Wednesday, challenging her refusal to remain in a customs union with the EU after Brexit the Tories  want to make sure the  “examiners” will pass tier submission no mater how il thought out it is.


A remedy against affection for the House of Lords is to try explaining it to foreigners. Like a senate, you say, but the members are mostly appointed by party leaders. (Your listener’s eyes narrow with suspicion). Except some still inherit seats in lines of aristocratic succession. (The eyes now widen in astonishment). Oh, and the bishops.
How long is a term? A lifetime. But when new members are added, doesn’t that mean the chamber just gets bigger and bigger? Yes. Yes, it does.
Today, we learn that Theresa May intends to shovel a few more Tory bodies into the upper house because it isn’t doing what she wants it to do over Brexit. And because she can. Try that one on a puzzled outsider: the head of a UK government, facing obstruction in parliament, can rearrange the allocation of seats with a stroke of her pen. (Opposition is bought off by letting Labour appoint a few peers, too. So what would be a wild affront to democracy tilts towards bipartisan stitch-up.)

There are two defences for such preposterous arrangements in the 21st century. One is that it works in spite of the anachronism and the other is that it works because of the anachronism. Peers have a healthy detachment from the partisan frenzy of modern politics, but awareness of their tenuous mandate also provides healthy deference to the Commons. By some mysterious alchemical process of culture and history, elements that should combine to make a sulphurous undemocratic stench make, instead, legislative gold.
The persistent liberal itch to reform or scrap the place subsides when peers perform what look like noble public services. So it has been with the EU withdrawal bill. Remainers cheered as the Lords rewrote statutes so they now instruct the government to seek a much softer Brexit. Hardline Eurosceptics are appalled. A caravan of political ironies troops past: pro-EU Liberal Democrats who tried and failed to reform the Lords now cherish it as civilisation’s backstop. Reactionary Tories who thwarted change to the upper house now denounce it as democracy’s nemesis.

Theresa May has now nominated nine new Tory peers, including the former cabinet ministers Sir Eric Pickles and Peter Lilley and handed one to Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist party as she tries to bolster her party’s fragile position in the House of Lords.

The full list of Tories includes Sir Edward Garnier, Sir John Randall, Sir Alan Haselhurst and Andrew Tyrie, all former MPs. May’s other nominees are Diana Barran, Catherine Meyer, the founder of Action Against Abduction who is married to former US ambassador Sir Christopher Meyer, and Amanda Sater, a former party deputy chair.

 Labour was granted three nominations, and Jeremy Corbyn put forward the former party general secretary Iain McNicol and the race equality campaigner Martha Osamor, the mother of the MP Kate Osamor, as had been expected. The third nominee is Pauline Bryan, a Scottish campaigner and editor of What Would Keir Hardie Say?, a collection of essays once given by Corbyn to Barack Obama.

It is somewhat typical of the political climate that much of the media concentrates on he proposed elevation of Osamor was immediately criticised by a Jewish campaign group after it emerged that she was one of several signatories to a 2016 letter complaining about the suspension of Ken Livingstone and others over antisemitism. Arguing that the suspensions were McCarthyite, the letter said the charges of antisemitism were being used to “silence criticisms of Israel … and undermine Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn”.

Less as been made of the news that the DUP will nominate the former MP William McCrea,

McCrea was a member of the Shankill Defence Association and in 1971 he was convicted of riotous behaviour in Dungiven. In 1975 he led a prayer service at the paramilitary funerals of Wesley Somerville and Harris Boyle. The two terrorists were part of the Glenanne gang which carried out the Miami Showband killings and were accidentally blown up when the bomb they were planting in the band’s minibus went off prematurely, killing them instantly.[8] McCrea was the target of a parcel bomb to his home on 9 August 1988, when a package sent by the Irish People’s Liberation Organisation was disarmed. McCrea had become suspicious when he noticed the package had a Dublin postmark
McCrea was criticised when he appeared on a platform at a Portadown rally in support of the senior Ulster loyalist paramilitary Billy Wright, who had been threatened by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) leadership, in September 1996.[Wright was the founder and leader of the Loyalist Volunteer Force (which had broken away from the UVF), and had been threatened after he broke the UVF ceasefire by ordering the death of Catholic civilian Michael McGoldrick.

A Northern Ireland Office memo released under the thirty-year rule in December 2014 revealed that McCrea had called for the Royal Air Force to carry out “strikes against Dundalk, Drogheda, Crossmaglen and Carrickmore” at the DUP’s annual conference in April 1986.

Of course since the start of the The Good Friday Agreement (GFA) many of those involved directly or indirectly in parliamentary violence have rejected their past and worked for the peace process. So if anyone has evidence that McCrea has done so let me know,

However this appointment alone  should convince anyone who thinks that the Lords in its Brexit defeat of the government  preforms a useful service and that it should not be reformed root and branch are living in a dream world,