Peers of the Realm

The House of Lords is a much maligned institution, and rightly so in most cases. Just occasionally, however, it fulfils an essential democratic function, by modifying legislation which has been too hastily drawn up in the Commons, or by directly challenging the Commons when it feels the latter is being bullied – by the Press, or party Whips, or a fickle ‘public opinion’ – into actions which the democracy might not, on mature reflection, really want. The Lords’ advantage, of course, is that their members cannot be so easily pressured, by the fear of electoral defeat, into ‘popular’ but unwise measures against their own better judgments; and measures that might – moreover – not remain popular very long. In the current climate over Brexit, where even moderate Brexiteers are being castigated as ‘traitors’ by the likes of the Daily Mail and the Telegraph, provoking death threats against them, the Lords might even turn out to be our truly democratic saviours. With opinion in Britain never having been in favour of the ‘hard’ or extreme Brexit that the zealots and the Daily Mail favour, and seemingly turning – slowly – against a Brexit of any kind, we may need to suspend our suspicions of what on the face of it appears a somewhat feudal and moth-eaten institution, and cheer it on. – See https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/dec/16/call-off-brexit-bullies-or-face-defeat-tory-peers-tell-theresa-may#img-1.

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