Oh Lord!

Lord Tyler

Apparently we are going live today. So far, our blog confessions have had a very limited audience, but now anyone may see what we have been doing.

Not that I have anything to hide. Indeed, I suspect that most members of the Lords would be only too happy if the public could and did take more notice of what we do on their behalf. Some of us spent a lengthy afternoon last Thursday debating the best way to get more people – and especially young people – interested in the way Parliament deals with their concerns, hopes and fears. We were examining the distorting effect of the current voting system, which tends to make people feel that they can’t affect the outcome of an election and it is a waste of time going to the poll. I notice that several of my fellow bloggers were there. We didn’t all agree, but at least we showed how anxious we are to give the citizens of this country a more effective say in the way in which it is run. Hopefully, MPs will be equally keen to improve the system. I wouldn’t bet on it, however, since some might lose their seats if the system was made fairer.

After the debate I left speedily, caught the tube and neatly made my train at Paddington for Cornwall and home. Once there, however, I was immediately immersed in an equally topical debate about the future of food and farming. But this time I kept my mouth shut and listened to the full-time countrymen (and they were almost all men). All Parliamentarians – from both Houses – have to keep in touch with real life, or we cannot do our job properly.

18 comments for “Oh Lord!

  1. 17/03/2008 at 11:20 am

    Welcome to the world of blogging. look forward to reading what you all have to say. Great blog name too!

  2. 17/03/2008 at 12:33 pm

    Firstly, I think this blog is a good move as it’s one of the best ways to really get a feel for what a community or organisation is up to and what their motivations are. I’ve subscribed and look forward to following along 🙂

    Secondly, Re: your second paragraph. I read the report you linked to with interest and was shocked by some of the statistics mentioned. 1.8% of the registered electorate control the result of the election!? In the light of your comments in this report, I’d suggest that your comments in this post “…tends to make people feel like they can’t affect the outcome…” is mild and misleading: it would seem a strong possibility that under the current system the majority of votes don’t affect the outcome of the elections. I’d be interested if you could point me in the direction of the report that you were citing?

    As a young person (20), I am interested in politics and will vote, but this does not change the fact that I believe my views are not listened to or represented by Parliament, even in Cornwall where my party of choice is the elected party. What real difference is there between the leading parties, and which of these is going to stand up in Parliament and make a stand based on moral and practical judgements rather than on the future of their own career and handsome wages? In what way is it right the the wages of MPs (I don’t know about Lords’) is so much greater than the average wage of those they represent? How can they really be in touch with everyday life?

    My list of grievances with the current system is long and could perhaps be expressed more coherently than in a comment on a blog post, but that aside I look forward to engaging in a dialog with you and your colleagues on these pages.

  3. 17/03/2008 at 12:44 pm

    Welcome indeed. Remember to enjoy yourselves.

  4. 17/03/2008 at 1:32 pm

    Well done, gentlemen! I have published the following comment on my blog.

    “You have to hand it to the highly traditional House of Lords and their new experimental and collaborative (nine) Lords of the Blog, a pilot project being managed by the Hansard Society.

    Lords of the Blog went online March 17, 2008, confirming that blogging is no longer an avantgarde avocation but has truly entered the professional mainstream bigtime. It is also quite a kudo to WordPress, whose blog format K2 the Lords are using.

    In true English style the Lords do not storm the blogosphere with a frumpy presentation that one might otherwise have expected, but begin their experimental contact to the public with a clean, modern face and a great deal of humour, also facing head-on such topics as “Lords reform”.

    This is definitely a very positive addition to the blogging world and to the world in general.

    The RSS Feed is http://lordsoftheblog.wordpress.com/feed/

  5. 17/03/2008 at 1:56 pm

    I would add my voice to the swell of ‘well done’ comments. I’ll be watching the updates via RSS feed.

    We were examining the distorting effect of the current voting system, which tends to make people feel that they can’t affect the outcome of an election and it is a waste of time going to the poll.

    Voting reform is a difficult nut to crack, I’ll concede.

    But surely it’s a nut that needs to be cracked?

    When the majority of the British public chose not to vote for a party, yet that party becomes elected by a significant majority, there must be something fundamentally flawed with the system?

  6. Strictly Come Blogging..
    17/03/2008 at 2:36 pm

    This is progress indeed. As someone who has divined, from listening to Today in Parliament, that far more sense is spoken in the House of Lords than in the ‘other place’, this blog is a welcome addition to the life of the nation.

    Any chance of being entertained to lunch in the manner to which you have become accustomed, or must one wait for the folks at BA to fix up a little arrangement with one of your number ?

    Anyway, keep up the good work – and don’t worry about being accused of falling ‘asleep on the job’; if those people in the ‘other place’ were a bit less industrious about passing new bits of ill-thought out and needless legislation, the world would be a better place.

  7. 17/03/2008 at 2:37 pm

    Welcome,

    Good luck with the experiment. You may find that the subject of a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty will dominate the comments for a while.

    Regards

    Steve Green

  8. Lords - Independent and Impartial ??
    17/03/2008 at 2:52 pm

    One of the reasons I am a fan of the House of Lords is that they are more intelligent, independent and impartial than most MPs. Of course, that is possibly to damn them with faint praise, but nevertheless with people like Baroness Helena Kennedy and Lord Ramsbotham in their midst, they can speak out on matters of social justice and civil liberties.

    So how has Lord ‘Clive’ Soley squirrelled his way onto this blog then ? I am fairly sure that they could have found some more intelligent and impartial fellows, or even preferably some women, to put in the club.

    Of course, one could demonstrate your impartiality by publishing this post, and responding to the comments about partiality made in the ‘Sunday Times’ yesterday.

    http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/transport/article3559500.ece

    For a member of the Lords to be making a buck by sitting on some feeble trade body pushing for the rights of a Spanish Concrete Company, against the views of many in this country who want to address the problems of climate change, does not, I’m afraid, present the House of Lords in the best light.

    This blog should help show that the Lords still have an important, nay, vital role in acting as a ‘check and balance’ against the rapacious capitalists who seem to have taken control of the House of Commons [mentioning no names, but Michael Ashcroft will know who I am talking about], and acting as a bulwark against their power.

    I await your response on this, and many other matters of interest about the Lords in general, as this wonderful idea for a blog progresses. It may also please your Lordships to know that in a blog it is helpful to also oil the wheels by entering some details of the menial daily detail to give a flavour of life on the inside. Such as what you had for lunch, and who has been paying a visit to see you.

  9. ian russell
    17/03/2008 at 2:59 pm

    what are you doing for our young people with reading difficulties?!

    I would like to see some nice photographs (but no kittens) and maybe a weekly caption competition. Good luck with this endeavour!

  10. Alan Douglas
    17/03/2008 at 3:07 pm

    My Lords, whom I bother to address because I think they might actually be listening, young people (or even an old gust-of-wind like myself) would be more interested in the political process if we thought anything we said could have any effect.

    But your colleagues in the other place have voted any powers they might have had away, to people we know do NOT listen, in Brussels. Thus the only interest we have in voting is in supporting UKIP in EU elections, forlorn as that pathetic whimper might seem to many.

    Why vote if whatever you vote for can have no effect ?

    Alan Douglas

  11. Tizzy
    17/03/2008 at 3:25 pm

    Good luck, looking forward to getting to know you.

    Do you intend to interact with the commentators, as do the more successful blogs? Also, would you put a little avatar of yourselves against your posts to make it easier to follow who’s saying what?

  12. 17/03/2008 at 4:23 pm

    Re people with reading difficulties, it would be possible to get this blog read out in an automated voice. We use Readspeaker on our site (which also uses WordPress, though the full WordPress.org version). We decided on the paid-for ad-free version, but it is possible to get a free ad-funded version to work with anything that produces an RSS feed (called Readspeaker Audiofeed creator).

    Apologies for the jargon, but in this case it is worth delving into – in the interests of encouraging greater accessibility. Our target audience is people over 50, and reading difficulties caused by visual impairments become more common the older you get.

    Ian Stobie
    Research Officer
    The PRIME Initiative

  13. elberry
    17/03/2008 at 4:54 pm

    Congratulations on achieving virtuality. Part of the problem with low voting turn-outs is, i think, that we the common unwashed cannot really trust or even identify with politicians. The more men like Blair and Brown attempt a jocular bonhomie with their electric guitars and wars and whatnot, the more they tend to strike Joe Public as sickeningly dishonest and slimy. Every politician comes across as stage-managed and hence utterly untrustworthy.

    What we need are men and women who have no shame, who call it like they see it and greet rebukes & scoffs with a broad, mocking grin. Surely this is the purpose of the aristocracy? – not requiring the approval of the mob, as do common politicians, you can lay your thing down and be as offensively honest & brutal as need be.

    I personally would welcome a new tone in politics, starting with the Lords – a tone of unabashed humanity, of casually offensive statements – such as everyone makes in his cups – of swearing and belching and tossing chicken bones to the dogs. This is how people really are. This is what we – the common man – trust and will follow.

    The revolution must start here! A revolution against Political Correctness, against timid souls and money-grubbing fools, a revolution in favour of hard talk and impromptu fisticuffs, a return to the days of Wellington, when men were men and politicians were hanged from lamp posts.

    I can lay my hand on my heart and say – in all sincerity – that I represent the British people.

  14. 17/03/2008 at 5:52 pm

    Welcome to world of blogs! I am looking forward to seeing what come out of this – it’s certainly interesting (and not just as a law librarian) to get a peek inside some of the minds of the HoL.

    I would like to second the request for avatars, just to make it easier to see who is posting.

  15. 17/03/2008 at 8:57 pm

    We would have been lost in recent years without the House of Lords. Welcome (all+ of you) to the blogosphere.

    (+Welcome *back*, Lord Soley.)

  16. ian russell
    18/03/2008 at 8:23 am

    now you have photos! and they brighten the place no end.

  17. Malty
    18/03/2008 at 4:44 pm

    Dear Lobs

    Please can we have our democracy back.

    Would you kindly ask Sauron the following…

    What is the price of gold today.

    Can we have our pensions back.

    When will he be holding the referendum.

    Thanking you in anticipation, Malty

  18. 19/03/2008 at 5:28 pm

    Hello here,
    I’m very pleased to see the Lords experimenting in this way. I’ve blogged about it here.
    http://theotherthomasotter.wordpress.com/2008/03/18/lords-in-the-cloud-letting-in-the-sunshine/

    When I toured the German Parliament buildings recently, I was told that the architecture of the buildings was largely transparent, not to show off the power of concrete, but to highlight that transparency is a fundamental part of democracy.

    Through blogging I believe that you can increase transparency.

    I look forward to following the blog, and congratulations on getting it started…

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