Tories Still Stand for Hereditary Privilege
Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 23rd January, 2010
David Cameron likes to make out that the Conservative Party has changed, thazt it is no longer the party of wealth and privilege (despite the social and educational background and financial status of so many of its MPs and key parliamentary candidates). But now the cat is out of the bag. As reported in the current issue of the Sunday Times newspaper, the Conservatives are trying to scupper government plans to phase out the 90 or so remaining hereditary members of the House of Lords — peers who have a say in shaping UK legislation for no other reason than their ancestry. It is, of course, mere coincidence that most of the remaining hereditaries are Conservatives. Dominic Grieve, the Shadow Justice Secretary, bleats that the hereditaries play ‘an important role’ in the work of the House of Lords. Some of them doubtless do, but that’s not the point. Britain is meant to be a democracy, but the continued presence of so many hereditaries — and the system by which they are replaced when they die off — are more appropriate for the 18th rather than the 21st century.