At 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.