White: votes for 16-year-olds; the Lords; Blair; Cameron; Straw; Mandy; sex…

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    27th March 2010

    Votes for 16-year-olds; the Lords; Blair; Cameron; Straw; Mandy; sex…

    (not necessarily in that order)

    Michael White, one of the grown-ups at The Guardian has some interesting bits and pieces here.

    On votes for 16-year-olds, truants included, he says:

    “We don’t think the kids have bunked off to watch the parliament channel on TV, do we? No.

    Most normal kids are more interested in sport, music, sex and assorted stimulants at 16 – and so they should be. That’s what Tony Blair and David Cameron were interested in. It was William Hague and Gordon Brown who were the political anoraks. ‘Nuff said.”

    Votes at 16? No chance. They’re too busy having babies.

    (Not sure if he’s right about Hague, though! Even if he didn’t get into the “normal kids” scene till he was about 23.)

    The main thrust, as it were, of White’s article is not on political sex appetites (and btw, what’s wrong with this Labour party? Apart from the unlikeliest of lads, Two Jabs … Jags, we’ve had remarkably few sex scandals.)

    It’s mainly about Mandelson flummoxing Straw’s Upper House reform ideas – ‘Lord Mandelson has stymied Jack Straw’s Lords reform? Good’

    White clearly doesn’t approve of this tinkering, at this time, and thinks Mandy has it about right.

    “Back to the Lords, where Jack Straw, himself admirably reactionary on matters like electoral reform and the euro, wants to create a 300-strong senate, elected one-third at a time every five years with a maximum of 15 years in the upper house.”

    Of course White hints at who else got it about right too:

    “By expelling all but 92 of the 700 or so hereditary peers in 1999, Labour has already reformed the upper house more than had been done in a century of huffing and puffing. Alas, Blair then packed the place with too many appointments, some of them as doubtful as Hague’s leg-up for Lord Ashcroft.

    As things stand, there are 733 peers today: 211 Labour; 188 Tory (including 39 hereditaries elected by their own number); 72 Lib Dems; and 182 crossbenchers; plus odds and sods, most of them the 25 senior bishops of the established Church of England.

    My take on all this is that, in a funny way, Blair’s half-completed, half-cock reform has worked quite well. (my bolding)

    No one has a majority, the Lords now feel more legitimate than they did when the hereditary backwoodsmen could be summoned to vote down a pension for old people like themselves – as happened in the great showdown of 1909-11 which finally broke the landed aristocracy’s residual veto.”

    It wasn’t reform “in a funny way”, Michael. It was planned that way. For balance, for once, more or less, whilst retaining some hereditary expertise.  And Blair, if I recall correctly, did not originally vote to abolish ALL hereditary peers. There was method, tactics, in his going along with the general consensus.

    [See Reform of The House of Lords]

    Regardless that in the end the Lords bit Blair The Reformer more than he expected or even deserved, the Lords has been far more representative of the country, electorally than ever before.

    That is only ONE of the reasons that in the fullness of time, when the gunners stop gunning for the Former PM, the Blair government will be seen for what it was –

    “One of the most reform-minded governments for decades.”

    And who said that?

    Oh, no-one you’d know. Just a Tory parliamentary candidate I was chatting with the other day. Despite, or perhaps because of our agreement on Blair,  she didn’t manage to throw me any good reasons why I should vote Conservative.  Thus far the Apathy Party’s for me this time round, until real leadership shines it bright little light in my direction.

    What were your ‘three priorities’ again, Mr Brown? Oh yes …

    Thank you, chancellor.

    By the way I notice that Michael White’s article ends with hints at behind-the-scenes moves to remove the Gracious Lord Mandelson.

    “Some shallow types say Mandelson is worried that he might lose his own perch at Westminster. I don’t think we have to worry much about Lord Peter, who shows a remarkable talent for survival and would fall down a sewer and come up with the proverbial gold watch.

    But it’s a good point all the same. Westminster a Mandelson-free zone? Surely not.”

    Roll on Tony’s birthday, otherwise known as the date of the General Election.

    Happy Birthday to You…

    I suppose that Gordon, meanwhile, will be “keeping on the road to recovery”.

    We, the British voters, are waiting with bated breath for May 6th, to see if we decide despite our collective malady  to hold onto nurse for fear of… you know the rest.




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