Wednesday, July 02, 2008

"Appropriate Rewards" Geoff Hoon, Keith Vaz

That leaked handwritten letter, promising Keith Vaz an "appropriate reward" raises again that old chestnut of cash/votes for honours. Now, it has to be remembered that Geoff Hoon used to be affectionately referred to in military circles as Buff Hoon - so no stranger to the relationship between foot and mouth. But it got me to thinking about how we go about dishing out the honours. We have a buffer in the Peers list, but this has done very little to ensure our presence in the Lords reflects the party, let alone the country.

At some time Gordo will see fit to offer some crumbs from his table to Nick Clegg - so what will he do? Does he have favours to repay? Will he break the habit of seeing honours as a reward system for the great and the good? Now I am a great believer in a directly elected second chamber, but we are where we are for the meantime, so my view is that we should not see appointing folk to the Lords as a reward, after all, they are supposedly "working peers". Some clearly take that responsibility seriously, some seem to swan off all over the place and do very little to support the party in the Lords.

During the hustings for the last but one leadership, Simon Hughes made a commitment that he would use appointments to the Lords to begin to address the lack of diversity in the parliamentary party - stating categorically that “If I am leader then I will expect, if the opportunity arises, to nominate people to the Lords. I will not normally nominate any white male because we have to correct the imbalance. We have about ten women out of 70 peers and we have two or three people from minority communities. We have to take positive action.”

It may be window dressing (and I have it on good authority that it is) but at least the Tories have begun to grasp this nettle - the appointment of Sayeeda Warsi in order to give her a role in the Shadow Cabinet, the selection of a number of BME candidates in winnable seats - while we, of all the parties lag behind. So, Nick has the perfect opportunity, which I am confident he will take, to use his prerogative to do the same and send a clear message that he is serious about redressing the balance. After all, as I have said before........and will no doubt have engraved on my tombstone - if we want to represent we have to be representative!!!!


Lee Griffin said...

Just to play devils advocate, I'd say to represent we have to be good at representing...not that we have to be representative. I personally could live quite happily with being "ruled over" by a 100% female, homosexual, non-white lower and upper chamber as long as they had the credulity to do their job properly, be true advocates and to act with high morals and ethics, and I'm sure plenty of other white heterosexual middle class man could too.

I don't necessarily get the idea that we all need our designated "tour guide" to be switched on to our representatives, I think that idea is a little condescending almost ;)

But otherwise, great post as usual!

Linda Jack said...


I like the way you sugar the pill! Yes in some ways I agree with you, when it comes to being an elected representative you can't possibly reflect the community in one person - but what I am talking about is collective representation - that way we actually make better decisions. We are also more likely to engage the electorate if they look at Westminster and see themselves. Oh dear, I have such a lot to say I feel a blog coming on!