Do they know I am talking about the Lords?

thAt the beginning of 2011, I gave the Stevenson Lecture on citizenship at Glasgow University.   I spoke on ‘Reform of the House of Lords’.   As I reported at the time, I was told an audience of about 50 or so was expected for such an event (I think ‘if we’re lucky’ was implicit).   In the event, there was a packed hall of well over 200 people.  It appears that quite a lot of students were studying the subject, so there was an incentive to attend.  I am not used to the subject of the Lords drawing a large crowd.

I was thus very impressed when I spoke three weeks ago to the Hull Literary and Philosophical Society on ‘What is the point of the House of Lords?’   As I reported in my recent post, there was an audience well in excess of 200.  My first thought was to ask them whether they realised I was speaking about the House of Lords.  Indeed, that was my opening comment.   No one rose to leave.

Imagine then my reaction last Thursday when I was at Keele University (pictuted) to address Keele World Affairs, the largest adult education body in Europe, on ‘The Future of the House of Lords’.  I was told that talks normally attracted an audience of about 300.  My instinct was to assume that talking about the Lords may not quite attract that sort of audience.   The talk was in a lecture hall that seats 380.  It was difficult to see an empty seat. 

I am not quite sure what it is about the House of Lords that is drawing the crowds, but whatever it is seems to be working!  All the audiences involved were attentive, engaged and appreciative.  One of my colleagues in the Lords once described the House as ‘one of this country’s best kept secrets’.  It is good to be able to let people into the secret.

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About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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4 Responses to Do they know I am talking about the Lords?

  1. Lord Norton,

    That surely is really significant. In time perhaps there will be a fuller understanding of the function of the Lords abroad than is sometimes the case… I have no doubt such understanding is growing.

  2. ladytizzy says:

    Might there be at least a nod to the Lib Dems for their part in the Lords reform debacle? And such great timing, too, as the electorate are as fed up with party politics as they are with their representatives, brilliantly illuminated by having their once pet protest party demonstrating the full range of their abilities.

    Or maybe you just rock their vibe.

  3. maude elwes says:

    I feel it is growing awareness of how power is ‘appointed’ or ‘dictated’ rather than approved by the public in a democracy. And that awareness is all consuming when the realisation of benefits, once assumed as the norm, example, the expectation of free education and health, now being withdrawn by those unaccountable to the people and thought to be on the make financially in some way.

    The Lords would be at the top of this tree.

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