What does the elevation of Kate Hoey MP (late of this parish) and Nigel Dodds (former MP) to the House of Lords tell us? Apart, of course, from their liking of titles and being members of a prestigious unelected body?
Well, maybe it tells us that Kate and Nige are planning to work their little socks off in the House of Lords. In 2017, Baroness d’Souza, who was Lord Speaker until 2015, says “There is a core of peers who work incredibly hard”. So even as I type Kate and Nige may well be limbering up to get stuck in and be part of the very important work (be quiet please, Virginia) the Lords do.
On the other hand they may not. They may be planning to become part of “the many, many, many peeers who contribute absolutely nothing but who claim the full allowance.” That was Baroness d’Souza again.
So what is the full allowance? At present it stands at £305 per day. But there’s a catch. Perhaps concerned for their lordships’ sleep patterns, the Lords are scheduled to put in just one full day of work each week – on Thursdays. On Mondays and Tuesdays, they start at 2.30 pm (weekends can be very tiring), on Wednesdays from 3.00 pm. (Mondays and Tuesdays can be very tiring), and some Fridays they start at the ungodly hour of 10.00 a.m.
But in case you’re sneering, let me tell you that a member of the House of Lords has to get by on a threadbare £305 a day. For half-days, they get £150. Plus travelling expenses, naturally. So do the maths: the likes of Kate and Nige may get paid as little as £750 a week, or £1100 if there’s a Friday sitting. Or £3000 on a bad month, or £4400 on a good month. Allowing for two months’ holiers annually, that’d be maybe £30,000 a year. Bloody awful.
What do they have to do for this money? Well, actually, nothing. Apart from sign in and sit reading the Beano or sending witty tweets. But let’s not assume that Kate and Nige are sluggards – they may well prove to be really active Lords/Baronesses. And think of the stir you’d create if you phoned a restaurant and said “This is Lord Dodds of Woodvale speaking” or “Baroness Hoey of Vauxhall at this end, mate”. And then there’d be the daily delight of rubbing shoulders (or other parts, depending on the state of Covid), with the likes of Lord (David) Blunkett, Lord (Melvyn) Bragg and Lord (Charlie) Falconer.
But of course Lord Dodds of Woodvale would have the particular pleasure of being as close as social distancing allows with (deep breath): Lord Empy, Lord Hay, Lord Kilclooney, Lord Maginnis, Lord Mawhinney, Lord McCrea, Lord Morrow, Baroness O’Loan, Lord Trimble and bringing up the rear, Baroness Ritchie.
Yes, Virginia, there is a heaven. It’s where failed unionist and crypto-unionist politicians ascend to, after the public have got sick of them.