What a dreadful anachronism is the House of Lords yet it still has a huge say in laws that affect all our lives. These people are appointed and not elected, with the inevitable result that cronies of whichever party leader is in government, suddenly become ‘Lords of the Realm’ and very rich – on our money.
Mind you, many of them are already very rich, which accounts for the fact that party donors, who have no experience of working politics end up wearing fancy gowns and behaving like entitled courtiers in the court of Henry the Eighth.
They also cost we poor taxpayers a huge amount of money! Darren Hughes, the chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said that the thirty six new peers appointed this week are likely to cost a staggering sum to the taxpayer.
“Based on the average claim of a peer, the thirty six new peers are likely to cost £1.1 million a year in expenses.” Hughes told reporters. Why on earth are we expected to pay for that out of taxes so urgently needed elsewhere?
And who are these new peers that Bunter J has appointed? What have they done to deserve elevation to the heights? Ian Botham was a fine cricketer but is hardly a scion of political nobility. Like many of the other appointees, he supported Brexit, but so did I and nobody has asked me to be a big deal. Bunter’s brother Jo had a fairly undistinguished political career and finally resigned because he didn’t agree with his brotherly boss, yet – perhaps it is so that the Johnsons have an amicable Christmas – he too is now a Lord of the Realm – or about to become one.
In fact the list of appointees is a derisive one all round. It even includes a Russian oligarch who happens to be a friend of the prime minister. How on earth can the said prime minister get away with this absolute corruption. I am afraid there is no other word for it.
But the fact that he can get away with it only shows what a private member’s club this House of ruddy Lords has become. It was already the largest second political chamber in the world and there are now over eight hundred unelected peers, voting on our laws and enjoying our money for the rest of their lives.
In fact, the argument against Prime Ministers being able to pack the Lords with personal and political mates was made somewhat forcefully in 2003 when Tony Blair announced plans to appoint more peers.
His proposal was denounced at the time as ‘disgusting’ by one critic who said, ‘Think of the lunches; the hackery; the behind-the-scenes schmoozing and fixing; the quiet words from the Government Chief Whip; the winking, the nose-tapping, the soft belching in the Savoy Grill Room or Glyndebourne or Ascot.’
Quite right too but that critic was our current revered leader, Bunter Johnson!
Once again quoting my friend Mfanasibili (Two Boy) Nkosi – Nuff said!
And you know, the Bunter Johnson who is currently floundering about with the Coronabug crisis and worrying about our general health with a whole load of patently ridiculous proposals to make us all lean and mean is not the man I voted for.
Some people in Government have suggested his sudden grasping at the apron strings of the Nanny State actually represents the re-emergence of ‘the real Boris.’ That now the Brexit log jam has been broken, and Labour’s Red Wall demolished, he intends to return to the liberal, one nation Conservatism that secured him back-to-back terms as London Mayor.
The problem with that argument is the real Boris used to hate the ‘sin tax’ agenda as well. In 2006 he created a storm at the Tory conference by hitting out at celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver who was piously lecturing us all about what we should and should not eat. There was ‘too much pressure’ on children to eat healthily, he told a Bournemouth fringe meeting. ‘I say let people eat what they like. Why shouldn’t they push pies through railings?’
The last bit was a reference to a story about Mothers feeding their hungry children with meat pies when school meals were made excessively ‘healthy.’
That was the Bunter Johnson I voted for. This one, I just cannot recognise.
But last week the sanctimonious and increasingly portly Oliver – who once proudly proclaimed, ‘Give me Boris f*****g Johnson as our Prime Minister and I’m done. I’m out’ – was heaping praise on his new food initiatives. ‘This could be a pivotal moment,’ Oliver cooed. ‘Boris seems to be the one that’s got a plan here.’
Why is Oliver still here I wonder? Bunter has been prime minister for a whole year so that surely gave him enough time to carry out his threat and really, most of us can do without him.
U turns on both sides I’m afraid. Yet despite his bombastic reputation, I honestly believe that Bunter is a more sensitive character than his critics and even some friends perceive. His brush with death and his divorce, both coming in such close alignment to the birth of his and Carrie Symonds’ first child, has understandably affected him in ways the Westminster bear pit does not allow him to publicly acknowledge.
Okay I sympathise with that but at the moment, this nation cannot afford timid, negative leadership. Anyone with even the most basic understanding of economics can see this is not the moment for tax increases and advertising bans. Not on so-called junk food. Not on online goods. Not on anything. We are a country that is about to enter the fight of its economic life. It cannot do that with the likes of Jamie Oliver holding one hand behind its back, while Bunter pinions the other.
There is another harsh reality. Britain cannot afford for its Prime Minister to embark on a sudden mood of dreary introspection. Especially not this Prime Minister. Energy – optimism – enthusiasm. This is the Bunter most of us voted for and the nation responds to. And it’s the Bunter the nation has to have.
‘We should now squeeze the brake pedal to keep the virus under control,’ he told the country last week. But he was not elected to squeeze the brakes. He was elected to drive the bulldozer through the ruddy wall.
We cannot defeat the Coronabug one bowling alley and one casino at a time. And we are not going to stave off economic catastrophe by locking down Britain every time there is a marginal spike in infection rates. We have to get on with life.
Come on Mr Johnson; forget the apparent mid-life crisis you seem to be enduring and inject some hope into our daily lives.