A banner for the Lords

In my earlier post about the challenges facing the House of Lords, Chris K said he would be willing to demonstrate and carry a banner to support the Lords against attempts to get rid of it.  He confessed that he was having difficulty finding an appropriate slogan.  I mused that I may need to organise a competition.  Frank W. Summers III responded with a few suggestions.  I was quite taken with the concluding one he offered:

“The House of Lords: (Three line Bio of a Peer) Photo of Peer — Where exceptional quality is acceptably normal”.

Sounds good to me.  Any other suggestions?


About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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26 Responses to A banner for the Lords

  1. djb13 says:

    I fear that my immature sense of humour immediately produced several suggestions, none of which are suitible.

    You could go down the route of branding: “The House of Lords: Mature reflection.” or “The House of Lords: Thinking again.”.

    If something more raucous and to-the-point is needed, I suggest: “Down with politicians. Keep the House of Lords.”.

    • Lord Norton says:

      djb13: The last of your suggestions may actually prove quite effective. One of the arguments against an elected second chamber that resonates with electors is that it would produce another chamber of politicians.

    • Lord Norton says:

      djb13: You are not alone. There is evidence that the independent element of the House is widely appreciated.

      • djb13 says:

        Indeed. I don’t think we’ve ever seriously discussed internal reform of the House of Lords in tutorials, but one of my key priorities is be the appointment of more crossbenchers. This rather kills two birds with one stone, because it solves what I’ve termed ‘the PR paradox’, by ensuring that the Lords remains a body with no overall government majority even in the instance of the introduction of PR in the Commons.

      • Carl.H says:

        Djb13 it is a good point that I alway`s thought commonsense until one looks at the stats of crossbench voting. They simply seem totally disinterested in a lot of bills, disinterested is probably the wrong term infact a lot declare in defence that they are not expert in that field.

        One serious consideration in this competition of suggestions is the fact the House has been allowed, nay had forced upon it too many ex-MP`s.

      • djb13 says:

        Essentially the issue is that crossbenchers have no instruction. You can’t vote against the government (or with the government) unless you know what the government’s whip is. The best thing to do would be to publicise whips, as well as offering whips the options of working together in groups (say 3% of peers at any one time can form a caucus), which also publishes a whip. This allows crossbenchers to identify important votes by what parties are making a deal out of, and also to have a variety of views to identify how to vote.

      • Carl.H says:

        Ah one of my pet hates, whips !

        Surely the concept is NOT tovote for or against Government but to use evidence based knowledge to conclude which way to vote. Once we reach the organisational structures we have a partisan Lords which is wrong in so many ways. Lord Knight in his piece on radio 4 seemed to think the way forward was for a party structure, this is not what people want.

        If the Lords becomes a partisan chamber as much as the commons I would have no qualms in voting for it`s abolition. Too much politics and politicians have been allowed in the Lords already which is partly why we are seeing legislation finally decided in the Law Courts.

        To my mind the Lords sit as Judges on new legislation and as such no judge should be leaned on in anyway. The Lords should be as independent of the Commons as is possible which is proving difficult given consecutive Governments stuffing the place with political members such as Lord Knight, Prescott, Mandelson etc.

        We should never see the circumstance, which I have seen on TV, of a member standing up and saying I was told to vote such even though I had no understanding of the bill whatsoever.

      • Lord Norton says:

        Carl.H: I despair when any peers say they have never voted against their party. The response ought to be ‘why not?’

      • djb13 says:

        The problem is that it’s impossible to make an evidence-based assessment of every vote. A whip at-least provides context to find out which votes are worth an evidence-based assessment.

        It may surprise you to hear that many crossbenchers already do take whips. They retain their crossbench status by not always following the whip (termed a ‘soft whip’, which is also used by Independents and pseudo-independents in the Commons).

        A lot of votes are just by-the-by and rather boring, but sometimes an important vote is ‘hidden’ as a ‘boring’ one. Take the tutition fees rise, which was done by Statutory Instrument (typically the preserve of boring regulation), whilst really boring things (like the Health and Safety at Work (Amendment) Bill) are passed as bills. Amendments (the key work of the Lords) are particularly hard to grasp the importance of without context.

  2. Frank W. Summers III says:

    Lord Norton,
    Thanks for the kind words. From an advertising point of view that selection has the advantage of being similar to such successful campaigns as “Got milk?” in the USA where a different celebrity with a milk moustache combined repeatedly with the familiar tagline over many releases. It is a proven formula. Note also American Express’s “_____________ Cardmember since _______” campaign. Liberal politics has used it here in the “Erase the Hate” campaign. The US Coast Guard has used the same technique in its “I am….” campaign. What it lacks in originality it seems to make up for in proven results. Maybe such a thing is worth considering…

  3. Carl.H says:

    Elections gave you Heath, Thatcher, Clegg & Cameron.
    Sometimes you can`t leave things to chance.

    Did your neighbour pack your parachute ?
    Somethings are best left to experts.
    The Lords, reliably appointed.

    Had an accident with your voting slip and are now unable to work ?
    Worried who you can turn to in these troubling times ?
    Here at HoL we have numerous experts waiting to help.
    And there`s no fee.
    Write or call now for immediate help from our friendly experts all hand picked for their abilty and knowledge.

    • Lord Norton says:

      Carl.H: I think these are excellent. I think you missed out a few names, though, in your first offering!

      • Carl.H says:

        My Lord, in all seriousness and not out of political bias at all, the public remember really hard times, Heath the three day week, Thatcher Poll Tax riots, Coal miners strikes etc., and the recent calamity that is the forthcoming cuts.

        These are clear concise memories rather than others who may have been akin malingering cancer eroding freedoms in a costly manner across the whole body of society.

      • Lord Norton says:

        Carl.H: And Gordon Brown?

      • Carl.H says:

        Wasn`t “elected” Prime Minister.

        It`s an important point to remember that a lot of the electorate do infact vote for party leaders rather than local representatives.

        He was however the gangrene in an already septic body.

      • Lord Norton says:

        Carl.H: Oh well, that’s Callaghan out as well.

    • djb13 says:

      “Elections gave you … Clegg & Cameron”

      No comment.

  4. tory boy says:

    Lord Norton I heard you last night on the BBC Radio 4 Westminster hour: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/search?q=westminster%20 I have to say I was impressed, as someone who has always been in favor of an appointed house, I thought you and lady d’souza did well in making the case for the status quo, with some domestic in house reforms.

  5. Alice Stretch says:

    I also heard you yesterday on Radio 4 and was going to comment to congratulate you on speaking so well but I see I’ve been beaten in doing this.
    Although I am not witty enough to make my own slogan, I do think Joseph Chamberlain’s “The Peers versus the People” will be applicable if ever the House of Lords is fully elected!

  6. Carl.H says:

    Aristotle, Polybius, Cicero, Rousseau and Kant versus the possible kyklos of Clegg and Cameron.

    The seperation of powers cannot be seperate if one holds sway over another.

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