Getting established….

This website was designed late on Sunday night and finalised on Monday, ready to go live when I finished teaching.  In just a little over 48 hours, it had received over 1,000 visits – courtesy largely of Lords of the Blog and Iain Dale’s blog – and is presently achieving daily traffic on a par with that we were achieving on Lords of the Blog.  The first post has attracted over 50 comments – okay, several of them by me responding to comments and a discussion between two or three readers, but it’s still good going.  The only problem now is trying to ensure that the posts are sufficiently interesting to keep readers logging on regularly.  Hmmm….

The justification for the picture, incidentally, is that my office  (or rather the office in which my desk is located) is in the very top right-hand corner of the picture.   I look out on the statue of Richard I as well as Westminster Abbey.  What the picture doesn’t show is that the statue is in the middle of the House of Lords car park.


About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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28 Responses to Getting established….

  1. Carl.H says:

    I think your viewpoint or questions on general political subjects maybe stimulating. At this point in purdah it maybe not appropriate though.

    Well done to Craig Beaumont for the blog, and especially to whomever decided that pre-moderation was not a necessity here.

    Here`s a non-political (?) question that maybe of interest.

    How will the House deal with any Bill that will result in it`s disolution or such to make way for a totally elected replacement ? Does the House have the power to reject such a concept put by the lower House who see themselves as somewhat more powerful by way of democracy?

    • The Duke of Waltham says:

      I got a “your comment awaits moderation” just a few minutes ago. I found it rather odd; perhaps moderation is required when one includes links in one’s comment, as a measure against spamming? Or is it a new policy of random checks?

      Regarding the reform (however radical) or even dissolution of the House of Lords, I’m afraid this only relies on the decency of the Commons. If they want to force it through, I believe they can do so after a year under the provisions of the Parliament Acts.

    • Lord Norton says:

      The Duke of Waltham: The system requires moderation for those who post for the first time or who include multiple links (a protection, as you rightly surmise, against spamming).

      Carl.H and the Duke of Waltham: The Lords could, if it chose to do so, reject such a Bill. One would assume that the Commons could then pass it under the provisions of the Parliament Act. However, following an obiter dictum in the Jackson case, that is not clear in respect of this very particular case. It could be seen as a means of getting round the provision giving the House of Lords a veto over any attempt by the Commons to extend its own life.

      • The Duke of Waltham says:

        I hadn’t thought of that… Very interesting. Idea for protest slogan: “Save the Lords or end up with a Decennial Act!”

  2. The Duke of Waltham says:

    Perhaps it’s just me, but I’d caution Your Lordship to be wary of being too successful. If you keep up this rate of posting, and the readers continue to comment as often as they do now (or more), the daily number of comments to read and respond to may eventually prove too much.

    I was about to add that posting two or three times a day ought to deplete the stock of interesting things to write about pretty quickly, but then again, that may be the purdah effect. Parliament deals with such a wide range of issues that I doubt one can ever run out of things to discuss while active in the Lords.

    • Lord Norton says:

      The Duke of Waltham: I am alert to the problem. Perhaps I am a bit like a new constituency MP, keen to establish myself in the constituency. I do, though, still have lots of ideas for future posts. If necessary, I could write about particular parts of the Palace, complete with photographs – that, I suspect, would gain your approval.

      • Lord Norton says:

        I should add that it may be finding the time to respond to comments that may be the real challenge.

      • Carl.H says:

        My Lord, do you have to gain approval from anyone to post photographs of the House ?

      • The Duke of Waltham says:

        My worries have been put to rest, Lord Norton. Indeed, one imagines that, with its size and complexity, the Palace could have a weblog all to itself.

      • Lord Norton says:

        Carl.H: There are various rules governing filming and photography. Visitors are not permitted to film or take photographs in the Palace, though pictures may be taken at a function in one of the banqueting rooms if a permit has been obtained. There has also been a relaxation of the rule in respect of Westminster Hall: visitors may now take photographs in the Hall. (I presume this is because there are no pictures hanging there. Flash photography can damage paintings.) It is also possible to film in the south-west corner of the Hall and the television companies can also film now in one corner of Central Lobby. Peers can also use their own offices to be interviewed or filmed; we also have separate rooms we can use for the purpose.

        As for posting the photographs, my understanding is that they can be used as long as not for commercial purposes.

      • The Duke of Waltham says:

        I wonder whether the prohibition of filming (which would not harm any paintings unless accompanied by very strong lights) has anything to do with the fact that Parliament meets in a royal palace. I know the custom is that none who is not a Member of Parliament can sit on the green benches (with a recent first-time-ever exception for the Youth Parliament), and there exists a replica of the Commons Chamber for filming, but why did Manchester Town Hall have to stand in for the corridors of power in programmes such as House of Cards? One could do worse, I suspect, but the Gothic style of that building is really not all that similar with the Perpendicular Gothic of Westminster; indeed, Pugin’s Gothic is fairly unique and there are no easy substitutes for it. It must have been a decision influenced by either concerns about Parliamentary neutrality or the practical necessities of not encumbering MPs in their work (though I doubt the latter was a major factor, given the number of scenes set in the Palace).

      • Lord Norton says:

        The Duke of Waltham: It used, of course, to be illegal to report proceedings in Parliament; visitors were until recently styled as strangers. I suspect some suspicion of journalists and others has lingered to this day. It has certainly taken a long time, for example, to allow broadcasters to film in Central Lobby: initially it was in a room just off Central Lobby and now it is in the corner of the Lobby.

      • The Duke of Waltham says:

        I suppose that makes sense. It’s one thing to admit strang— erm, members of the public into the Palace to watch the proceedings, and it’s not a bad idea to let them admire the temple of the nation’s democracy, or hold receptions for charities, but to have them use the Palace for commercial purposes almost entirely unconnected with its function? I can see the grounds for such reluctance.

  3. ladytizzy says:

    Your take on some key moments in parliamentary history would fill this blog by themselves. I would like to know just how close Mountbatten got to taking us into civil war.

  4. Lord Norton says:

    ladytizzy: Splendid. A satisfied customer.

  5. Lord Norton says:

    Carl.H: It’s probably best not to give me too many ideas! Croft has already mentioned having my Coat of Arms on the side of my car – or even a railway carriage.

    • The Duke of Waltham says:

      I’m afraid Your Lordship will have to get used to it. What is the purpose of this venue if not to facilitate the exchange of ideas? I can only think of one alternative:

      It was a dark and stormy night, and the torrential rain whipped the windows of the Palace of Westminster. In a crowded office overlooking Old Palace Yard, a small desk lamp provided the only light, and threw long shadows onto the walls of the empty room. But was it really empty? Not entirely… For there was a silhouette by the desk, a man reading an old leather-bound volume in the light of the lamp. The gold letters on the cover had started fading, but they could still be read: How to Take Over the World in Ten Easy Steps. The man turned a page. “Ah, here we are”, he murmured, apparently pleased with himself. “Step #3 – Mass brain-washing.” He turned a few more pages, then tapped his finger on a particular phrase. “Acquire a following through a web-log.” Suddenly, a cold, cruel laugh escaped his lips, and started rising in pitch. As the soulless laughter reached its maniacal crescendo, a lightning illuminated the man’s face and reflected off his horn-rimmed spectacles: it was Lord Norton!

  6. With respect to revealing the statue of Richard I in the midst of the carpark, as Bagehot advised, ‘We must not let in daylight upon magic.’

    Happy belated Primrose Day!

    • The Duke of Waltham says:

      Kind of him to say so, because he’s also famously said “the cure for admiring the House of Lords is to go and look at it”. But I do like the phrase.

      • Bagehot’s ‘cure’ was a quote from a ‘severe though not unfriendly critic’, I believe; in his own words, he said that ‘while the House of Commons is what it is, a good revising, regulating and retarding House would be a benefit of great magnitude.’

        Though, to be fair, it’s rather hit-and-miss to find a definitive Bagehot statement on the Lords: he also wrote that ‘though beside an ideal House of Commons the Lords would be unnecessary, and therefore pernicious, beside the actual House a revising and leisured legislature is extremely useful, if not quite necessary.’

        And, more importantly, his analysis was of an hereditary chamber with notable weaknesses; what would he say to-day, I wonder?

      • The Duke of Waltham says:

        He might even approve of it, though this is anybody’s guess. I confess that, even though I have a copy of “The English Constitution” in my computer, I haven’t read it. I did start once, but other things got in the way, and before I knew it something like eighteen months must have passed. Maybe I’ll take it up again some time; I know I want to, and that it will benefit me greatly.

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