Wednesday, 18 May 2011

What to call the new House of Lords?

Whilst I doubt that Mr Clegg will read this, I'd like to offer him some advice when it comes to his reforms to the House of Lords. Whilst I think that his plans are very good, that alone will not be enough. A good idea is always a useful thing to have but unfortunately, the key to success in politics is, as I'm sure we all know, good presentation. Good presentation can make even the worst idea seem palatable but bad presentation can destroy even the best ideas. After the defeat of AV, Lords reform is essential if we are to get any significant constitutional changes through at all. But I, for one, am concerned that it will be lost through bad presentation - let's face it, the party leadership hasn't been especially good on presentation lately.

The press are reporting that Nick Clegg wants to introduce a "US-style Senate". Now that right there is the problem. "Senate" does not sound palatable. It sounds foreign and it doesn't sound British. Now, to good liberals such as you and I, that isn't a problem. But to the traditionalists in Labour and the Conservatives, and to a large segment of the public, the name Senate will be an unnecessary problem when it comes to selling the proposed reforms.

Therefore, I'd suggest Nick uses the name House of Peers for the new body. There are a variety of reasons as to why this would be a good idea. For one, it enables us to preserve the terminology of the Houses of Parliament. For another, "peer" is another term for a lord. However, it also means equals, which is exactly the kind of egalitarian spirit we will want in the new chamber. This means that it will sound like a much less radical reform than it is - and as we know, the British electorate have always disliked sudden, radical reforms. A case in point is that, when discussing the subject, I have twice encountered people who opposed to reforming the Lords because of the loss of tradition and cultural heritage associated with it. However, when I idly mooted the idea of calling it the House of Peers, their attitude changed to one of "oh, well that doesn't sound so bad".

3 comments:

  1. Quite like this idea.

    I'm not sure, though, that presentation is something the LibDems have been bad at "recently". LibDem literature is easily the ugliest of the main parties, and not just because it's underfunded. It doesn't cost much for a few nice typefaces, and a style guide that looks like it was designed after 1995.

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  2. I was thinking more of the tuition fees debacle and the like actually. Though I agree with you, Lib Dem literature can be terrible.

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  3. Thank you for posting such a useful, impressive and a wicked article./Wow.. looking good!

    Houses Australia

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