Picture by Swansea
In The Guardian today, Suzanne Moore claims that the Lord Sewel scandal is not about sex but about money. She presents an interesting argument, pointing out how Lord Sewel’s private life is supported to the hilt by the public. He paid prostitutes for their services in a London flat that’s subsidised – the flat would normally cost £3,000 a month, he gets it for a paltry £1,00 a month. He gets £200 a day allowance. He gets £84,825 for chairing House of Lords committees and his allowance of £36,000 for maintaining a London home.
I think Suzanne misses the point. What Sewel is paid…I mean was paid (he’s resigned, poor chap) is pretty enormous. But we wouldn’t have heard about it if he hadn’t been filmed wearing a salmon-coloured bra while snorting cocaine through rolled-up fivers and tenners in his nice London flat with a couple of, um, sex workers. And hadn’t addressed the prostitutes as ‘luvvie darling’. It’s sex that sells the Sun, Suzanne, not money.
But there’s a bigger point behind all this, so blindingly obvious that it takes the breath away. None of these people are elected. Some are there because their da was there – hereditary peers. The rest are there because some prime minister thought it a jolly wheeze to nominate them to sit in the Lords. Sewel is particularly well paid with that chairing of committees, a nice little earner if ever there was one. But ordinary peers (if you can have such a thing as an ordinary Lord) get £300 a day in attendance money. They can clock in, loll on the benches for a bit, check out what’s on their phone, then leave. That’ll be £300, please.
They are alleged to act as a moderating influence on the Commons – our elected representatives might run mad if it wasn’t for these unelected worthies putting the brake on them and pointing up important matters. In practice they could be gone overnight and I’d bet the average punter wouldn’t notice any difference in his/her life. Except they were one of the previous peers, of course.
The scandal, dear Suzanne luvvie, is that these people are paid a minimum of £36,000 a year just for showing up. And of course if they didn’t live in London, they’d need to be compensated for overnight expenses – something around £140 a night, I believe. Personally, I don’t care if they wear their sister’s knickers over their head in their time off: what gets me is that I’m helping fund this lot of unelected clowns for pretending to be wise. How would you like a £300 a day allowance? (Sewel, for some obscure reason, got a paltry £200).
Still, it could be worse. Or at least as bad. You could be contributing to the upkeep of members of the Seanad down south. Again, this lot are unelected…Tell a lie. Graduates of various colleges get to vote some of them in. So it’s a sort of selective democracy. No uneducated rabble need apply. And for the wonderful work these people do, they get €65,000 a year. There was talk of abolishing them a while back but they’re still there and thriving. Appointed or pseudo-elected, they’re as big a waste of space as the Lords lot. And then we’re told that this is a democracy and that we must all learn to tighten our belts.
Division of the power of government safeguards democracy. It doesn’t really matter whether the upper house consists of heriditary clowns or a putative wise, experienced elite elected by proxy on behalf of the illiterate rabble. These upper houses, along with the courts and heads of state, are a necessary obstacle to the ambition of the executive. Any one of these can stop the executive in its tracks.
Consequently, how these lords and senators and heads of state spend their hours in or out of the house matters very little. The time they devote to walking the corgis or writing poetry or snorting cocaine with friendly ladies does not prevent them fulfilling adequately their constitutional role as obstacles to dictatorship.
Which is why I voted to block Enda’s power grab and keep the Irish Senate.
Grma, Mary Jo – cogent and eloquent as always. But I disagree for a number of reasons. If they’re clowns and/or busy walking their doggies, they’re not likely to be an effect curb on anything or anybody. Besides, if we elect the executive, we should be wise enough to vote in people who can do a decent job. Why should an undemocratic lot who’re there because they were put there by the PM/Taoiseach (sounds like patronage to me) or some smaller bunch of semi-toffs (graduates) have any hand in the running of the country? Elect good people to do that. As to the appointment of the judiciary – don’t get me started.
Mary Jo, – I may be one of the illiterate rabble, but if I live in a democracy then I have the right to vote in or out those who would wish to be my political masters/betters/elite.
At least when we reunite Ireland we will have an opportunity to reform the whole system ….ejecting the brown envelope brigade and all the associated cronyism , something we have no ability to do with our colonial overseers in London . When limited independence was granted to 26 counties in 1921 ,it was basically just letting ” The Pale ” administer British rule in that part of Ireland,,,,,independence was only smoke and mirrors ….hence the similarities between the two parliaments .However ,in the meantime we are recklessly governed from London by a bunch of sleeked morons .Pedophilia , drug dealing ,drug addiction ,corruption ,false accounting .drunkenness ,sexual perversion , etc etc are prevalent in both the Commons and the Lords. These lowlifes punish the poorest and most vulnerable in society and reward themselves and their bosom buddies with untold riches and sneer at us when we have the audacity to complain. The Conservatives got a mere 37% of the vote but ,under first past the post, they are able to implement their savage policies and to hell with any notion of a fair society
I see in the English papers that Cameron is planning to increase the number of Tory peers in the H of L. That somewhat trumps Mary Jo’s claim that an unelected second chamber acts as and I quote “necessary obstacle to the ambition of the executive”. If you can load that second chamber with your cronies what obstacle does that make?
Furthermore if you elect a second chamber at least you have the opportunity in the next election to remove them from that chamber rather than them being there until God calls them.
According to Private Eye donations of about £300,000 to the Government party seems to be the key to getting elec…oops, I mean nominated to that bastion of democracy The House of Lords… kinda rules me out.
The Enoch Powell dictum, Esteemed Blogmeister, came to mind on peering while drooling into the bedchamber of Lord Sewel :the one about all political lives ending in inhaler.
First thing which struck one was a certain difference in dress code between the Upper Chamber of the Mother of all Parliaments and the one pertaining to the lordly bedchamber. This is not to say M’Luds of Westminster do not wear red bras while on official duty; it is just they are worn, if they are worn at all, out of sight and beneath the discreet black silk damask and the gold lace ceremonial robe. Attire, one might say, fit for a forelock-tugging fellow from the barren slopes of Bell’s Hill.
So far, the reports in the Daily Gawk do not indicate who exactly was wielding the strip of leather normally associated with the former Chief Whip of the Labour Party; which of the nine cats in attendance with a tale to tell, was the administrator, as it were.
The report also brought to mind a verse from a traditional Irish ballad:
I’ll die my petticoat, I’ll dye it red
And it’s round the world I will beg for bread
Until my parents would wish me dead.
Curiously enough this is a translation from the original leprechaun whose chorus incorporates, at least phonetically, two of the words suddenly twinned for evermore: Sewel and ruin:
Siuil, siuil, siuil, a ruin
Siuil go sochair agus siuil go ciuin
Siuil go doras agus ealaigh liom.
Walk, walk, walk, my dear, walk softly and walk without a sound, but with lighted pound while bound, walk to the door, my dear and scarper with me.
Cuis trua/ Such a pity the Lord Sewel saga did not break while the McGill Summer School was in session in Donegal 4 where the waves of the Wild Atlantic Way do be known to break.If for no other reason than to gauge the reaction from the Great Glenties Gabfest.
No doubt, the reaction to the Cocaine and Able-bodied Women Saga would be muted. Even with the presence of the normally loquacious Yawnaiste and head of the Sister Party of Lord Sewel’s former grouping, in attendance.. Or, indeed, perhaps, because.
While we are indeed inured to the presence of the Free Southern Stateen’s favourite Auntie, redlipsticked Panti Bliss, on our screens and stages and other platformed heels (Erin go Bra !) nonetheless it is not that a great hoo-hah would not have been made in the school if circumstances had been different. Very different.
If say, a be-robed Lord of the RC Church had been caught in similar somewhat compromising circumstances. A Bish, say, or some other fish of equal stature:Jamie Oliver would be the go-to guy for a quick tip of how best to dip these RC fish in vegetable oil, the better to batter the Bish in q..
Glenties,Donegal 4 of course is the go-to venue for the Headmaster of the School, Moleskin Joe Mulholland,late of Donnybrook, Dublin 4. A passionate advocate of freedom of speeches the long time producer of Today Out of Sight saw to it that not only was Section 31 adhered to in spirit but to the letter too: X. Thus, all Shinners were X-rated.
This may well still be the case for the McGill Gabfest. Though is this case the operative word might well be, rather than letter, leithreas, which is leprechaun for loo. Patrick McGill, after whom the, erm,eponymous school is named fought in the Great Donkey Derby, and was injured at the Battle of Loos, for his troubles.
Certainly, the pong of imperialism which rose from Glenties last week reached epic proportions. As in the over-the-top assault on gnationalism from the goliath-dimensioned brain of one, Daithi O Ceallaigh, who was the former Ambassador of the Free Southern Stateen to Cuirt an Ri Seamas.
The imperial measurement of the flannel which uttered from the former Ambass was between 14 and 18 furlongs and a Failte Ui Cheallaigh / The Warmest of Welcomes was extened by a standing ovation once again.
Don’t let the name in leprechaun fool one; the same is true of fuels. Inflammable actually means the opposite to what it is generally supposed to mean.
And speaking of welcomes: Moleskin Joe Mulholland modestly describes himself as being trilingual: in French,Spanish and, ar ndoigh, the Q’s English. Which makes Glenties in the Gaeltacht of Dun na nGall a most suitable venue for his summary school.
Perhaps, the topic of the annual Gabfest might one year be: On digging a linguistic Poll for oneself.
To conclude where one began: with the Powell, named Enoch. In fairness (soccer speak) I suppose (GAH speak) it is only meet and just to say that while the multi-lingual Member for Wolverhampton might have said Eff-off to the immigrants from the Indian Sub-continent at least he had the courtesy and ability to say that to them in their own languages, from Urdu to Hindi.
Here’s looking forward to a suitably dressed Lord Sewel address the Children of the Dead End in attendance at next year’s McGill Summer Sewel, oops, school.
Am I not right in thinking that Sinn Fein have representatives in the Seanad? No doubt once they enter a government coalition,they will seek to abolish it as Enda tried to do!
How do you know that, Argenta?
Maybe Argenta has a pair of crystal balls!
Look at your last paragraph ,Jude.You’re complaining about the Seanad being as big a waste of space as the Lords.I was merely pointing out that Sinn Fein had(as far as I am aware) three representatives in the Seanad.Is it not logical for a party which continually trumpets its enthusiasm for “equality ” to press for substantial reform of the Seanad once it has its hand on the levers of power?But then again,I’m not as close to S F thinking and policy as you are!
How do you know I’m ‘close to SF thinking and policy’? Come to that, what do you mean by ‘close to SF thinking and policy’?
So you are just a disengaged political commentator with no ties to Sinn Fein?You seem to be trusted by the party hierarchy to chair S F meetings around election times.Are you saying you have no special insights into what the party’s thinking is on various topics.You do seem a tad defensive!
Not a whit defensive, Argenta. What is there to be defensive about? I just wanted you to clarify this claim that somehow I was privy to SF policy and thinking to a degree denied to others. Or have I totally misinterpreted you?
Reasons why I want the British ruling class out of my country, number 134……
The rich and powerful really do treat the poor with distain. I suppose if you own all the media and can cynically minipulate the brain dead into blaming it all on the foreigners and the spongers then why not squeeze more resources towards the wealthy while the poor scrimp to heat their homes!
As my mother always said, who worked all her life and had multiple jobs at one point while me and my siblings were growing up, “the biggest spongers aren’t the people on welfare, its them politicians”. She’s no Einstein but she has her own brand of wisdom, one which I always give time to listen to and consider.
£300 a day, expenses for rent, lunch, travel, etc all to sit down and doze on the red benches of the House of Lords, all because Daddy/Mummy sat there and snored too, once upon a time. And we’re told people on £90 a fortnight, no expenses, no expensive London hotel/apartment/house paid for, etc are spongers and the cause of all our economic ill’s?
And then there’s the MP’s. Who are driving one of the worst austerity agendas since maybe Thatcher in the 1980’s. Those same MP’s who preach that “we’re all in this together” saw fit to give themselves a £10,000 pay rise all the while they are cutting welfare of the most vulnerable to the bone, sanctioning JSA claimants, cutting tax credits to working families and reducing tens of thousands of families to depend on food banks (yeah, they want rid of those food banks too).
All this exposes who the REAL spongers are….
Harold Wilson’s references to “spongers” in 1974, pales into insignificance, when one considers the number of individuals, particularly from the Labour Party who chose to don the ermine. As the debate about welfare cuts continues to rage, one thing is clear. The most recent scandal confirms The House of Lords does not represent value for money. It is time to throw in the sponge. Peers pontificate about the need for welfare reform, some in the Commons travel by limousine, while others are obliged to use food banks, sleep in the streets, waiting lists for hospital treatment get longer and community care for older people is fast disappearing.
“Privilege and power corrupt society.” Tony Benn
A large,and maybe insurmountable, problem in England is their belief in a class system. They are prepared to lavish sickeningly fawning attention and inexplicable amounts of money on that German sponger …..auld Mrs Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and her parasitic offspring.They believe in Lords and Ladies and will unquestionably doff their caps to these assumed betters . They boast that they’re working or middle class whilst simultaneously believing that all “Foreigners ” are lesser human beings. They undoubtedly listen to all the propaganda about welfare recipients without being able to formulate opinions themselves…..they are the masters of their own downfall