Welcome to The Norton View

Welcome to my new blog.

I’ve set this up as an outlet for my personal observations and insights into life at Westminster.  It will cover similar ground to my posts on Lords of the Blog, which is presently on hold during the period of the general election, though as a personal blog it enables me to range a little more widely.  I hope that this will be enjoyable to read as much as I enjoy writing it.  Feel free to jump in and contribute your thoughts.

My thanks especially to Craig Beaumont, whose technical skills and ability to work into the early hours has made this blog possible.


About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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52 Responses to Welcome to The Norton View

  1. Frank Summers says:

    Lord Norton,
    When I first got your bad news e-mail I googled you and was offered a nice bit of rental housing or condominium housing by an electronic pitchman. I must say I was disappointed you had changed your style and habits so much. However, LOTB directed me here and I congratulate you on this site. It seems very nice and more in your line than the other…

  2. Carl.H says:

    Glad to see someone will still be about during the election Lord Norton, though how you will find time for yet another blog I don`t know.

    I look forward to the blogs.

  3. Dave H says:

    Do you actually get shut out of the buildings, like those in the Other Place, or are you merely stuck with the requirement that they want to make sure that nothing from there breaks the rules for the period?

  4. Chris K says:

    Will you be knocking on doors during the election, Lord Norton?

  5. Dave H says:

    Another thought – what do members of the Lords do during an election period? Concentrate on the day job?

  6. ladytizzy says:


    Test comment: what majority will the Tories have?

  7. Troika21 says:


    Congratulations on the personal blog!

    Hope everything goes well.

  8. Alex Bennee says:

    Welcome to a piece of cyberspace you can call your own 🙂

  9. Lord Norton says:

    Many thanks for all the comments so far. Nice to hear from so many of you – all familiar names from Lords of the Blog. The switchover of systems on Lords of the Blog created some technical glitches, meaning that I was unable to post anything – hence my absence from the site for more than a week. Anyway, I now plan to make up for lost time. I shall be doing various posts shortly, not least to respond in more detail to some of the questions you have posed. What do we do when Parliament is dissolved? Do we get shut out? I also plan to write about the parliamentary ‘wash up’ – in which this time I was centrally involved – as well as write more about the Palace of Westminster. I also plan to invite questions from readers on a regular basis. Do feel free to raise any questions about Parliament on this thread.

  10. ladytizzy says:

    Do you know why recent Acts still include (where relevant) the requirement to publish public notices exclusively in newspapers? What will happen when the last newspaper rolls off the press?

    An example:

    • Lord Norton says:

      ladytizzy: I can understand the requirement to publish in one or more newspapers (written, accessible sources) – its use is longstanding – though I take the point about whether it should remain an exclusive requirement. However, if one was to supplement it, what sources do you have in mind? I suppose my question is more or less the same as that posed by the Duke of Waltham.

      • ladytizzy says:

        To answer (both Lord Norton and the Duke of Waltham!) the question of alternative sources we need to look at the intentions of the requirement and whether the newspaper should continues to be the singular best method for reach.

        That an Act has such a requirement would lead me to presume its intentions was to alert the general public to a particular point of public interest, rather than the narrower audience that an individual Act would attract.

        Until recently, a daily and/or a local newspaper was the only plausible method for public reach. The internet has changed this to such an extent that few people under the age of 25 read a ‘daily’. Key factors to consider before deciding on one or more additional sources include accessibility, reliability, permanence, security, and cost. Notably, a newspaper falls down on most of the above.

        Also of note, a national printed daily does not carry public announcements across to its web site. Over time this will mean that a huge chunk of the nation will never see a public announcement, as matters stand. Surely that is not the intention of the lawmakers? Is it?

        I’m sure most of us could come up with a variety of suggestions, including ideas that don’t currently exist. First things first. Local authorities already use their web sites to notify and inform people. It would be useful if their statistics were collated and tested against other sources.

    • franksummers3ba says:

      Lady Tizzy,
      I might have replied to your lower post if it allowed a child. But I will sort of split the difference. I have written for pay in about half a dozen full-fledged newspapers and have also written for pay in some other rags and have written acadmic work for glory alone in a journal. Each has its advantages. I think the UK has more supports for cohesion than the USA so I must not react too much as I do here.

      Let me share a perspective, in the US (as there) pubilc announcements support newspapers and they do many things which ads in flyers, most websites and much broadcast do not do. These papers act as foci for communities, gatekeepers for opinion and refiners of local talent. They help keep a place a living functioning community and so forth.

      You have Lords Spiritual, a Monarch, recognition of County and National heritage (more under the House of Windsor than before I think) and so your need is not like ours. But perhaps the example will help a few modern republics keep from sliding into chaos. I like the Norton View just fine — but I think LN would admit it is not all a newspaper is…

      • ladytizzy says:

        Your comment leads me to other questions: does local or national gvt pay the newspaper at the going rate and, by what measure is one newspaper chosen over others?

    • franksummers3ba says:

      Lady Tizzy,
      Instead of starting with another sentence rendered incorrect by the good offices of other I will hope you find this note in a good place. I have no idea what is done in the UK. In the USA at the federal level I really know only a few instances in which I was involved as (a junior) editor. However, Louisiana and her creatures (towns, cities and parishes etc.) advertise and pay a special rate. Some are permitted to advertise in smaller typeface than any other content especially in very long documents. But these revenues are steady and substantial. Each of our governments (we have about 12,800 as of my 20 year old memories) in this country is required to have a single paper as its chronicle of record. To follow it one need only by that paper. Then the paper is almost always bound to include a line stating the governments for which it is the record. I think these rules are eroding. But I also think our country is near collapse unless changes occur soon . So I am not the conventional wisdom…

  11. The Duke of Waltham says:

    Congratulations from me as well, Lord Norton. I may not be as familiar as the rest of the commentators on this thread, but, having finally embraced the technology of RSS, I intend to follow closely Lords of the Blog, and now The Norton View as well. I have a great interest in the Palace of Westminster, so expect many questions about that.

    Regarding the glitches, I have no doubt that they persist; unless someone objects to my assumed title, my account is not recognised in Lords of the Blog (and there alone) on technical grounds. At least we can expect that whatever problems remain will have been fixed by 18 May.

    Ladytizzy, I take it that you object to the “exclusively” rather than the “newspapers” part. I have to ask, however: what kind of website would be suitable for such notices?

    • Lord Norton says:

      The Duke of Waltham: Welcome to the site. People are entitled to call themselves what they wish for the purpose of online nomenclature, though I doubt in practice if a dukedom would ever be awarded for such a small territory as Waltham!

      • Frank Summers says:

        Lord Norton,
        The online information on the “Duke’s” is misleading but unclear and not all of us keep a copy of Burke’s (is it?) Peerage on hand. All such lists offend people wrongly as well as rightly somewhere and of course they are not online in open fora usually. I also remind your Lordship that Vatican City and Monaco hold their own in protocol rank quite nicely and are not Russia.

        All of this is to say, we quite appreciate you making all this clear. You have a way of setting aside all doubt. Kings of Mann, Earls of Orkney and Pearly Kings notwithstanding I remembered no blood shed over Waltham’s Duchy. Dukes of Cornwall are basic to the UK — but what is the Provenance of the Duke of E. — the title of the Prince Consort? Not so easy as it seems if one lives in the great island itself…

      • The Duke of Waltham says:

        Thank you, My Lord. This has been my on-line identity for four years, and I am known by this title in numerous digital venues, so I didn’t see the point in creating a different account just to post in Lords of the Blog, despite my initial misgivings about the potential of confusion. I do not wish to mislead anyone, and I openly declare that I am a slightly megalomaniac Greek Anglophile; I do not expect any problems here, but advice is welcome on whether I ought to finish my comments in Lords of the Blog with “Disclaimer: Not a real peer”.

        Mr Summers, by “online information” I assume you are referring to my Wikipedia user page (link below). It is not a proper article, and indeed, if you read carefully, you will see that it is less than serious (hint: many jokes are in the links). As a matter of fact, I often use my noble persona as a vehicle for humour and, occasionally, satire. I have taken care not to impersonate anyone (none of my titles has ever existed, at least in Britain), and I have drawn my coat of arms myself, following heraldic principles.

        Which reminds me… Do you have arms, Lord Norton? Many people (including life peers) with less distinguished careers than Your Lordship’s have had arms commissioned, and these, unlike the peerages themselves, are inheritable. It’s something nice to go with your stationery, but it’s also much more than that.

        At the risk of writing too much about myself, I’ll make one final point: when I conjured the dukedom of Waltham out of thin air in 2006, I didn’t know half as much as I do now about the Peerage, or I might have chosen a different name. However, I did later find a precedent in the dukedom of Chandos. The first Duke, whose portrait I am using here, was a rather colourful character and quite the social climber, and I might use some elements of his life in constructing the history of my own “lineage” (if I am the fifth Duke of Waltham, there must be another four). It’s one of those things I’ve been meaning to do but never quite found the time and inspiration.


      • Lord Norton says:

        Duke of Waltham: Some Americans are given the name of Earl or Lord. Earl Warren was Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court. I don’t think he would need to add that he was not a real peer! I do indeed have a Coat of Arms. I did reproduce it in a very early post on Lords of the Blog. I was wondering earlier today whether I should reproduce it here. If readers would like to see it, I will reproduce a copy.

      • The Duke of Waltham says:

        I’d very much like to see your armorial achievement, Lord Norton. I shouldn’t say no to a blazon, either; we are surrounded by heraldry, but in this, the Age of the Image, people rarely see, and usually cannot even imagine, that the source of that imagery is text. And even though the language of blazon is not exactly accessible, its obscure but so exact terminology can offer some insight into the importance of precision and precedent that have always been at least as important as appearance in the creation of coats of arms. One might actually draw a few parallels with lawmaking, now that I think of it.

    • franksummers3ba says:

      Chris Chandler and the real Baron of Louth,
      Whatever there may actually be (that may amount to 99% of the facts of the period) we can agree that Amrica and Britain fought two wars which culminated in a separation of the systems in areas such as this. I do not care all that much if you DoW post under Queen Elizabeth II but your name is less playful than Lady Tizzy and her name also has some potential political critique given that she is ( if my online sources are right) related to a Lord Spiritual and thus there is a sort of perfection in her gesture.

      I use a “defaced” and very small coat of arms in my correspondence which shows my Anglo heritage but does not assert that the HoL acknowledges my coat as if it were not so altered. Just to let you know American relationships with all issues heraldic are quite complex. Blood has been spilled over these issues long since separation of the 13 colonies from the UK. I am asking nothing from anyone but wish to illustrate a point:
      1. My small town library has one rather elegant and new room devoted to genealogies and lines.
      2.My family has held many farms and houses some of which go back to royal land grants in lines forced under our laws.
      3.My family has fee title to a largish home once part of the palace of a Marquess.
      4. The Congres Mondial keeps careful track of Acadian heredites at the basic level.
      5. Many families here have ancestors who dueled over various claims of line and descent.

      Earl Warren’s parents likely wished to show a real attachment to some aspect of British aristocracy in a comemorative Christian name. It may seem I may making much of little but the opposite is actually true. There has never been a society like the USA as regards these issues -never in 4000 years of some kind of aristocracy or other.

      • The Duke of Waltham says:

        I am a little puzzled by your selective interpretation of my user page, Mr Summers; “Christopher Andrew Chandler” is as much a fiction as the nationality, religion, birth date and profession given on the said page. I actually have another page with purely valid information (link below), where my name is given as Vasileios (Greek for “Basil”) Peidis. It is even linked from the front page, but it is not very obvious. I am not trying to defraud anyone, but I do not intend to make things too easy, either. My title and the various trappings of my supposed social position are intended to sound real, but come into humorous conflict with my actual behaviour and comments (a sort of deadpan comedy, if you will), as well as give me the opportunity to enjoy some role-playing. This is clearer in other contexts, however, and I certainly didn’t expect to contact actual Lords when this story started.

        In actuality, I know little about my genealogy, and I envy those with access to records about their ancestors and knowledge of their family trees. Therefore, I respect your desire to defend your heritage and I understand your dislike of those who seem to usurp identities to which they are not entitled, so I wish to assure you that I have nothing but good intentions.

        After all, the United Kingdom is the exception rather than the rule in these things; the traditional right of citizens to change their name to pretty much anything they wish would ensure great confusion and a fertile ground for impostors and frauds in the event of the abolition of the Peerage, and indeed, this was the result of such developments in countries like France. (Such a case has even made its way into Agatha Christie’s The Mystery of the Blue Train.) Even now, thanks to the Internet, there has been a resurgence of the phenomenon of the heraldic bucket shops, which sell stationery with “family arms” to people who have no right to bear these arms, based on surname alone. (By the way, it is the College of Arms that keeps records of coats of arms, not the House of Lords.)

        So I am all for keeping history alive and obeying the social conventions that come with it—but in the appropriate contexts. The anonymity of the Internet must be taken as a given, for now at least, and I’m afraid one has to accept that, under most circumstances, on-line discussions must be held under these terms. We are in a lecture hall right now: the professor is known to all, but the students come and go at will, and are not required to identify themselves.


  12. Carl.H says:

    Ok, I`ll say it even though a few may be thinking it.

    What a c**k up, they close down Lord of the Blogs for over a week for improvements that we presumed were partly to do with polling we took part in. We all looked forward to these improvements and on LoTB return nothing really had changed on the public side, aside from more glitches especially LN not being able to post.

    I`m in the commercial side of IT and this simply wouldn`t have happened, the old would have kept running whilst the new was background tested, then quietly changed in the middle of the night when done.

    Then after a week off, it`s back only to be shut for the election, like that was a surprise!

    Seem`s the changes to LoTB run similar to any Government IT scheme. Is it too many chiefs not enough indians or something else.

    I`m not blaming your Lordship`s who probably have little to do with the running of the place but as intelligent people I`d hope you`d agree that the word organisation seems to be missing. These blogs are your public face and I feel it doesn`t reflect very well on you and your skills when such a farce occurs.

    • Lord Norton says:

      Carl.H: I was rather hoping that the change would be quick and beneficial – I had fed in the proposal (deriving from comments made by readers) that we should have a side-bar that allows readers to pose questions. I fear I was left wondering what benefits derived from the change. The delay was not helpful and I then discovered I couldn’t post anything. During the hiatus there was a rogue post that briefly appeared supposedly by me but which wasn’t by me! We were then hit by the period of purdah. I am sure we will be having a post mortem the moment we get back.

      I’m finding this site extremely easy to use, with some features that we don’t have on Lords of the Blog.

      • Carl.H says:

        When/If the post mortem takes place please ask where my box of chocolates are. Not that the chocs themselves are important but broken promises are. It appears TNS-BMRB are breaking promises on the HoL behalf.

        ” Dear Carl

        Thank you very much for taking part in the Lords of the Blog research. We would like to send you a box of hand made chocolates from the House of Lords as a token of our appreciation. Please get in touch with your name and address and we will send these out to you.

        Best Wishes


        Andrew Hunter | Research Executive


      • Lord Norton says:

        Carl.H: Thanks for that bit of intelligence. I had no idea that chocolates were being offered. (I have had no responsibility for the research exercise.) There is no excuse for not sending them, not least since the souvenir kiosk at the Lords will be one of the facilities remaining open during dissolution.

      • Dave H says:

        Doubtless the person in the kitchen charged with making and packing the chocolates was dragooned into helping with the washing up last week, along with many others.

  13. maldencapell says:

    Lord Norton,

    Very pleased to learn of your new blog. I am a strong admirer of your great knowledge and passion for the UK Constitution.

    It’d be a delight to clash swords over a cup of tea in the River Restaurant sometime!

    • Lord Norton says:

      maldencapell: Many thanks for your kind comments. May I reciprocate by saying that I have just been reading your blog with great interest. Perhaps I should organise a gathering sometime at the Lords for readers with an interest in the British constitution, not least the House of Lords.

  14. maldencapell says:

    I’m a new starter to the blog world and I hope to expand on my blog in the future. Right now I’m a bit snowed under as I have MSc exams in Politics in May!

    Comments on my blog’s entries would be welcome.

  15. Carl.H says:

    The Duke of Waltham stated

    ” I am a slightly megalomaniac Greek Anglophile;”

    Not called Philip by any chance ?

  16. franksummers3ba says:

    Post script: I would love to see you arms Lord Norton. I have tried to find them previously on many occasions.

  17. franksummers3ba says:

    This is a response to your DoW post of 1:06 am
    So you are the Earl Warren case yourself. Your name is better translated King than Basil perhaps. I think βασιλιάς is a prominent word featured in Greek on the important Rosetta Stone and the basis of the Latin word leading to the English word Basilica.

    I think the things you have mentioned are worth preserving but not necessarily to be envied so much. Frankly, theregular and well established royals and aristocrats face many troubles. Charles Duke of Cornwall and Prince of Wales has a wife who died young with another man, a grandmother who spent much of her life in a mental institution, a father who had a hard and often impoverished youth, one grandfather driven from his country and one who hated to be king. Now suppose you were one of a dozen family networks that hold to certain ideals and traditions without any state support. Some are poisoned by various aspects of the life, some are persecuted by republicans and others by established royalists. Almost all one’s weaknesses are more exposed and one’s vices are more pressured to emerge than can readily be stated. There is layer upon layer of refugees settling in where I live and was reared. I am not even sure that there is any issue so simple as my post made it seem. Royal and aristocratic traditions fold together things that seem. opposite in the rest of the world . In addition symbols and codes that mean a great deal get flipped over and turned around from culture to culture and time to time. Your act rases some issues but ας υπάρξει ειρήνη μεταξύ μας …
    I see how such things can happen. All royalty and nobility is tied to thespianism in many ways. I appreciate your response but am not really so judgemental and cannot afford to be…

    • The Duke of Waltham says:

      I said I envied those who knew about their ancestors, not necessarily aristocrats. As far as my name is concerned, it comes from St Basil the Great—whose feast day (1 January) is my birthday—but its etymology is pretty much as you say.

      In any case, you raise some valid points, and some with which I disagree, but this is not the place to continue this discussion. I fear we have abused Lord Norton’s hospitality long enough, and I welcome your call for peace between us.

      I move to adjourn.

  18. franksummers3ba says:

    The motion is seconded and we allow our gracious Host the nonhereditary aristocrat to escape further abuse by being imprisoned as a spectator. The blog may return to its rightful purpose.

  19. Lord Norton says:

    Duke of Waltham and franksummers3ba: Many thanks. I will take your comments as constituting a popular demand to see my Coat of Arms! I will post a picture shortly. Coats of Arms are drawn up by the College of Arms – the House of Lords has nothing to do with the process – following application to the Earl Marshal, the Duke of Norfolk. Details of the College of Arms are available at:


  20. Frank Summers says:

    Reply Mostly to Carl H.
    There is a man not to concerned about his dignity. I would like to get my damn chocolates too.
    There is no doubt that had they nbot offered them I would have known no lack but now am quite obsessed by their absence…
    Despite not being British I may show up at Westminster with a torch and pitchfork next term…

  21. Carl.H says:

    Dignity ?

    Forget that, think of the brownie points I can get for hand made chocolates from the HoL, it would half my deficit and MAYBE afford me some minor error like breathing. 😉

    Frank there`s no need for a torch now, we have lights. We`ve even changed over from gaslight to the new electrickery ones. Not too sure you`ll get the pitchfork through the new body scanners unless you get it a supermodel passport.

    I hope they get the chocolates out before Kraft takes over the company.

  22. Lord Norton says:

    Carl/H: I should mention (or then again, possibly not, if they don’t arrive) that the chocolates produced for the House of Lords are exceedingly good.

  23. Senex says:

    The Duke of Waltham:
    Wiki: Internet legislator and judge, and Honorary Professor of Sarcasm at the University of Sunderland. It’s going to be fun having you around, part of the nations ‘Natural Aristocracy’ so to speak?

    Lord Norton:
    Nice of you to keep in touch with your virtual friends: closing down LotB for the duration is the proper thing to do especially as refusing a comment might offend the sensibilities. I’m not at all happy that the servers for LotB are now located within the UK because its logs are now available to the establishment.

    In the US, the Supreme Court has ruled that people have a right to political anonymity, especially during elections, however to my knowledge no such ruling has ever taken place within the UK. As this blogs server is located within the US, bloggers in this respect have some protection. I use Firefox and the Flagfox add on because its always helpful to know where the server is especially if you are paying for goods online.

    As for the election in the UK and now that each party’s prospectus is published I find none of them much to my liking. Now if somebody were to say that pension funds were transferable in whole or in part to heirs thereby reducing the states obligations to provide such pensions it would certainly capture an interest on my part. The problem of a Royal Prerogative getting in the way might offend the Duke of Normandy?

    Is this the public mood?

    Fool me once and shame on you.
    Fool me twice and shame on me.
    Fool me thrice and shame on both of us.
    Fool me again and again and again, shame on democracy.

    Government could not turn to the Monarchy to fund the banks nor could it turn to any group of wealthy individuals. Instead it turned to the people and their promise of prosperity. I fear the UK will become just like Japan up the hilt in debt just like a regular business owner that has signed away his house as security against the overdraft.

    • Lord Norton says:

      Senex: Many thanks and welcome. I must say that all my tecnical knowledge about Lords of the Blogs, and blogs in general, I have acquired from the comments of readers. Yours has added to my knowledge. I have been struck by the number of readers who are technical experts, which I find both fascinating (why the correlation?) as well as extremely helpful.

      I was struck by your point about the ruling of the US Supreme Court. Is there any case law on this in the UK?

      Your point about pensions is an interesting one. It’s not my area (a typical academic’s response) so I would need to take advice.

    • The Duke of Waltham says:

      Well, Senex, I am a busy person but not a hard-working one, if you can see what I mean. But I do have a sense of humour, however dark it may be on occasion.

  24. Carl.H says:

    @Senex another one of those ” If you`re doing nothing wrong, you`ve nothing to worry about” things.

    My Lord, users of the net specifically those of us interested in politics and the ilk often go looking for material for debate, this can take us such places that may be frowned upon. Perhaps the last few years have seen us grow paranoid over such things. I have visited sites that are now banned, radical islamists and things like the BNP. One is alway`s aware you could be being watched and the ability of a Government organisation to state you may have been doing so for reasons of terrorism is disturbing.

    If I were a Muslim for instance doing the same as what I have done, quite innocently, I would be prepared for questioning. The darker side of British law now means a train timetable could be construed as innappropriate material, let alone if you innocently take airport pictures or of an area around a service base. We have all sat in front of TV aghast at plane spotters being arrested in other Countries and yet as a more civilised(we think so) we are coming to the same fact.

    From April 2009

    ” Instead the Government wants ISPs and mobile phone companies to retain details of mobile phone calls, emails and internet sites visited.”


    “I have been struck by the number of readers who are technical experts, which I find both fascinating (why the correlation?) ”

    Seekers of information my Lord, lose your internet or the ability to do something on it and you lose your information.

    • The Duke of Waltham says:

      It’s enough to make one concerned about where things are going… In my more paranoid moments I worry that we’ll end up with a de facto criminalisation of curiosity. May it never come to pass.

      (Though, I have to say, one of the benefits of living in a country where the government is slow to embrace technological developments is that we are nowhere nearly as acquainted with Big Brother as the British. Indeed, I have trouble remembering any CCTV cameras that weren’t outside banks.)

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