Britain’s 4th Party gets 22 Lords, whilst its 3rd gets none.
On Thursday, the Number 10 Press Office put out a statement on behalf of the Prime Minister announcing the creation of a fistful of new peers. The new appointments to the Lords came as part of the traditional ‘Dissolution Honours’ list, drafted by the PM after a General Election. This list is normally reserved for retiring grandees, and to give campaign chiefs a pat on the back for all of their hard work during the elections.
Amongst the recipients this time were a few deserving names, such as William Hague, the outgoing Foreign Secretary and former Party Leader, and David Willetts, a long time policy wonk who was influential in the modernisation of the party. Of course, there are also a few less deserving names, such as Douglas Hogg, who famously claimed parliamentary expenses for having his moat cleaned.
But perhaps the biggest injustice of these new appointments is the number of Liberal Democrats who are being promoted. Somehow, the former coalition partner has managed to bag 11 new peerages; That’s 3 more than the total number of MPs they managed to secure at the last election. Not bad for a party that came fourth in terms of number of votes and joint fourth for seats.
Meanwhile the SNP, who have now taken on the official role as the Third Party in the house of commons, including the fancy Whip’s office in Portcullis House, didn’t get a single new peer. UKIP, who achieved 1.4 million more votes than the Liberal Democrats at the last election, don’t get a single Peer either. I suppose both will just have to settle for largest parties in the Scottish and European Parliaments respectively.
The problem that this all creates is that it has become increasingly difficult to defend the upper house of our Parliament. This will no doubt only strengthen the resolve of fringe parties to reform both the electoral system and the House of Lords. Perhaps the solution is to follow a German system of representation in the upper house, although I fear this may be a wider topic for discussion in a later post.