Thursday, 1 August 2013

LibDems should not follow the other parties' path of patronage

First of all, may I congratulate Nick Bourne, a relatively progressive Conservative former leader of the party in Wales and a casualty in 2011 of our mongrel system for election to the Assembly, and especially Christine Humphreys, Welsh LibDem president and near-miss (by just one vote) inaugural leader, on their elevation to the House of Lords. They will clearly be effective working peers, as Mike German and Jenny Randerson have proved to be before them.

However, I am disturbed at the appearance on our list of James Palumbo. I'm sure he's a nice guy, and as co-founder of Ministry Of Sound, he will bring useful knowledge of the leading edge of culture to the Lords. My objection is that his barony is already being seen to have been bought by his financial contribution to the party, just as the already-leaked honouring of Rumi Verjee was. As that posting by Stephen Tall explains, the party has regularly and democratically voted for an Interim Peers List, a procedure suspended last year only because it had been assumed that Lords Reform would proceed. I am sure that if the vote had gone ahead, Brian Paddick and Olly Grender of this week's nominations would have been successful anyway, but the passing over of so many of the names on the 2008 and 2010 lists is another symptom of the lack of trust in the membership by the leadership which has been highlighted in the media recently, but which already manifested itself in the coalition negotiations.

Of the fifteen on the 2010 list, it seems that only Sal Brinton has been installed as a life peer. A sound case can be made for all the other fourteen, but to me the most glaring omission is that of Mark Pack.

As I type this, I'm listening to the Countess of Mar and Baroness Falkner on "The World Tonight" on the subject of the inflation of the upper chamber. But that's another story ...

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