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Nosemonkey's EUtopia

In search of a European identity

Why is Jeffrey Archer still a peer? (And another meme)

A question that has been asked innumerable times, I know, but if dangerous driving is enough to lose you an MBE, merely a symbolic honour, surely convictions for perjury and perverting the course of justice should be enough to prevent one from being a member of the [tag]House of Lords[/tag], an honour which brings with it actual power?

And then, thanks to Martin Stabe (bastard…), below the fold lies another meme – five things you didn’t know about me:

1) I am surprisingly poorly travelled for someone so interested by other countries (largely due to lack of money over the last decade or so, but also due to my dear parents’ pathological fear of flying, which ensured that all childhood holidays were UK-based). I have, however, paddled in the Pacific Ocean on both its eastern and western shores, and seen the sun come up over Siberia from 35,000 feet. Which was nice.

2) I have, in my time, applied for jobs with all three major UK political parties. The Lib Dems offered it, but wanted me to join the party, so I declined. The Tories were less fussed with party membership as long as I signed a confidentiality pledge, so I accepted. Labour never replied.

3) The first interview I ever conducted was with Sir Harry Secombe, while the first famous person I ever met was Spike Milligan (due to my older brother being friends with one of the younger members of the Milligan family, and so us getting invited to tea a couple of times while Uncle Spike was around). Despite this, I’m not a particular fan of The Goon Show.

4) In my youth I used to be a crack shot, competing in target-shooting competitions at a national level, but got bored with always getting perfect (or near-perfect) scores, so gave up at the age of about 14. Someone from the same shooting team as me apparently went on to captain the United Kingdom under-21s – even though I was a better shot than him… Thanks to the experience, I have fired a vast array of firearms, including a Smith & Wesson Model 29 (aka Dirty Harry‘s Magnum, “the most powerful handgun in the world” – even though it isn’t) to an M240 machine gun.

5) Despite having been keen on orienteering, white-water kayaking, rugby, windsurfing and mountain biking when I was a teenager, the most dangerous thing I’ve done in the last ten years is walk home through Somers Town at 2am while both drunk and wearing a suit. I have also, somehow, managed to avoid ever breaking a bone, my worst injury being a mild concussion caused by a flying head-butt.

There – wasn’t that fascinating? As I’m meant to nominate five others to do this (even though I think it’s already done the rounds), I’ll go for Pigdogfucker, The Virtual Stoa, the Blogger formerly known as Kitty Killer (who managed to quit blogging for all of a week, by the look of things), Rafael Behr, and Boz of the rather good French Élection 2007.

Next post less tedious, promise…

7 Comments

  1. Wouldn't it require an Act of Parliament? There are probably too many Tip Top Terrorism Bills to get through the House for there to be time to pass a Bill of Pains and Penalties.

  2. Thanks for the tag; I'll think about whether to comply.

    On Jeffrey Archer: the risk, historically, would have been that if peers had to quit on receiving a criminal conviction, then ministers at various times would almost certainly have conspired to launch prosecutions of opposition peers, in order to drive them out of public life. For similar reasons, many legislative bodies have always insisted (and some still do) that their members should be immune from prosecution in the courts. It'd be pleasant to think that the courts were de-politicised enough that we could pass a new law to strip Jeffrey Archer of his title. But it might not be sensible, in a world where only the other day the Attorney General was wittering about the need to "balance" the rule of law against political interests.

  3. There are precedents for removing peerages, though – surely it would be possible to use some of those to create a case? Admittedly, most peerages have been forfeited for treason rather than perjury, but even so – there are systems in place…

    Then again, I gather that life peerages hold a somewhat hazy constitutional position – even though their position doesn't seem that unclear under the terms of the Life Peerages Act – so perhaps not.

  4. If we removed everybody from the houses of paliament with a criminal record there would alot of empty seats.

  5. Chris – good point on the potential politicisation. Certainly wouldn't want to give our dear government another method of packing the upper house by default, now that they seem to have had the actual creation of new peerages temporarily cut off through police scrutiny. (And Blair has, after all, created more peerages than any Prime Minister – certainly in the last 130 years or so…)

  6. There are two good reasons, though, why Blair has created more peers than other PMs. In the days before the hereditary peers were kicked out, appointments of non-Tory peers helped to reduce the permanent Tory majority, which I hope nobody's going to defend. (Indeed, the point of the life peerages act in the first place was to contribute to the diminution of the permanent Tory majority.) And in the days after the herditaries were (mostly) excluded from the chamber, there was a need to repopulate the House with people who might do useful work there. Obviously the whole peerages-for-loans business is a scandal, and I hope that very senior figures will face criminal charges, because it all seems pretty dodgy to me, and the right place to find out just how dodgy is in the courtroom, but on the issue of the *number* of peerages being created, I don't think there's a particular problem with the fact that Blair has created more than his Tory predecessors.

  7. ..

    absurd thought –

    God of the Universe says

    HAPPY NEW YEAR Infidels!!!

    ignore the threat of Jihad

    just keep sleeping like sheep

    ..

    PS I suggest you check your archives, on Firefox some were all messed up and blending with multiple pages or something.