How not to make friends and influence people…

The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, made a well-trailed speech on Monday in which he offered egregious comments on the House of Lords.   The speech, not surprisingly, has gone down like a lead balloon in the Lords, including among many Liberal Democrat peers.   He was at it again yesterday during Deputy Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons. 

Readers are invited to read both his speech and his responses yesterday in the Commons (read the whole of the Deputy Prime Minister’s period and not just the section on  the Lords).   There will be a Christmas present for the reader to spot the most inconsistencies and errors.

About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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12 Responses to How not to make friends and influence people…

  1. Dave H says:

    It’s worth noting that a lead balloon goes down really well 🙂 The original usage was ‘goes over’, which of course it won’t do.

  2. David Morris says:

    Nick Clegg certainly doesn’t know how to win friends and influence people in the House of Lords.

    As he knows, there are Lords who are more cautious of reform than others. That trend has existed for many years. It does that DPM and his cause no good by being overly critical of them during his question time. It would be much better if he was more diplomatic an constructive.

    It would also be much better if he had done more research about the structure of Parliament too. I agree that his arguments have many flaws.

    As for his speech at Demos, he mentioned that the Lords is an example of a closed society.

    His definition of an open society is:

    1) social mobility, so that all are free to rise;
    2) dispersed power in politics, the media and the economy;
    3) transparency, and the sharing of knowledge and information;
    4) a fair distribution of wealth and property; and
    5) an internationalist outlook

    Well, anyone can enter politics and a diverse range of people sit in the Lords. The power is dispersed as we have a bicameral Parliament and the Lords is an advisory/revisionist chamber. It’s also fairly transparent, due to the likes of Hansard, live streaming, Lords who blog, etc.

    Whilst the process of appointments to the Lords isn’t exactly open, the second chamber as a whole isn’t a perfect definition of a closed society.

    As I have said before, many people agree that Lords reform is needed, but there is no need for Clegg to be overly critical and he (as well as other members of the government) need to do more comprehensive research in order to tighten up their arguments.

    • Lord Norton says:

      David Morris: I was struck by the clash between the criteria and the claim regarding the Lords. It does suggest ignorance of the second chamber and the extent to which members are drawn from a diverse range of backgrounds.

  3. Croft says:

    “inconsistencies and errors.”

    It’s Clegg; isn’t that like setting Sisyphean task!

    The most obvious was that the government enforces the parliament act!

    • ladytizzy says:

      Croft, following on from Tuesday’s The nature of opposition“, here, the headlines below amused me:

      Yesterday (Wednesday), in the Indy:
      Ed Balls: ‘Lib Dems should leave the Coalition and join us’

      Today, in the Indy:
      Lib Dems laugh off Ed Balls’ call for a new coalition

      Among Wed’s gems;

      “He [Balls] points out that the Coalition’s law bringing in five-year fixed-term parliaments allows for a new government being formed without a general election. Wary that trust is lost when coalitions are formed and manifesto commitments are dropped, Balls would still become a keen member of such a government.”


  4. Tory Boy says:

    The wonderful Baroness Trumpington expalins all:

  5. Rich says:

    I’m not sure if it counts, but I doubt the early Labour Party would have agreed that the Liberal party in the early 20th century was fighting against “closed society”, but perhaps that doesn’t count for this contest.

    Do grammar errors count?—It’s “I know that we politicians have got to…”, not “us politicians”.

    1) More substantively, only a few of the complaints about equality within the legal profession are within the power of the profession to correct. Judges are selected by a process with lawyers and non-lawyers through a statutory process, and the government chooses QCs. It is therefore the responsibility of Parliament and the Government to do something, not barristers and judges.

    2) The diversity of experience in the House of Lords would be seriously diminished by election because the class of people who run for election is rather narrower.

    3) It’s not clear how the Lords as currently constituted is an affront to open society. Clegg seems to think the Lords is what it was 100 years ago.

    3) Clegg’s stance with respect to the City are a complete muddle. He wants to avoid the leftist impulse to regulate and the right-wing tendency to rely on moral individuals, then outlines a plan that does both. He would require corporations to have shareholder input into compensation. That is regulation. The shareholders who would have that say would largely be investment funds and the like, which would leave us relying on the individual morality. In the end, we would almost certainly see shareholder representatives who are very much like the inside committee members and would therefore make similar decisions.

    4) Moving on to DPMQs, because weekends and the like are excluded under the Representation of the People Act, an increase to 25 from 17 days is more than “just over a week” more; it is in fact 10 to 12 days of real time (more if there is a Bank Holiday).

    5) The Draft HoL Reform Bill was published this past May, not last May.

    There is more, but one can only take so much.

  6. Lord Norton says:

    Many thanks for some excellent responses. So far, those competing for the prize are David Morris and Rich…

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