Corruption, Or why I’m not fussed about SpAds

You’ll notice Bitching about Alastair Campbell was absent from this blog back in the day. OH… I may have bitched about his EFFECTS, but that’s bitching about a successful enemy. I never denied his right to do the job he did, and have grudging respect for his ability.

Likewise the army of SPADs, spin-doctors, parachuted Lords and others who made up the last Government’s Sofa cabinet, and the same creatures who look like making the coalition’s sofa cabinet. Party political workers joining the Civil Service to serve the Government seems to me natural; as do experts and wonks serving in the Lords to have access to ministerial appointments. Guido disagrees, and calls it “naturalisation” of the Coalition.

Devil’s Kitchen will no doubt call the “new coalition overlords” the “same as the last Government”. However the sofa cabinet was not the root of the corruption of politics. The real corruption of British politics is the power of patronage over MPs. The force that sees MPs surrender their duty to hold the Government to account, to act as a nodding dog and Lobby-fodder in order to please the whips sufficiently to serve in ministerial office one day.

What we get therefore is an executive drawn from a shallow Gene-pool of 650 (plus a few Lords), and a Legislature supine before the executive which holds the only route into Government for its members. Neither branch works very well, so this is why we’ve handed all oversight to the judiciary, which ain’t exactly democratic. What we really need is a stronger parliament, and greater, though not total separation of the Legislature and executive. I would encourage the Government to pull whomsoever it wants in Government into the Lords, and give them offices of State pretty much at will, save for a few of the Great offices of State. Service in the commons should therefore be all about being an effective constituency representative and standing for your beliefs without the imminent prospect of a Call from #10.

The new intake of Tory MPs is showing admirable independence, but they too will soon be “naturalised” too, unless the system and conventions change. The truth is, the conventions don’t need to change much, the glory of our unwritten constitution is its flexibility. Unfortunately, plans to elect peers will put them on exactly the same footing as MPs, and will make them subject to the whips in exactly the same way.

‘Idiocy’ is trying the same thing again and expecting a different result. Which is why I strongly oppose an elected Lords.

2 replies
  1. jorjun
    jorjun says:


    I really believe that the House of Lords is a more virtuous place than the commons, and should be left free of reform by the lower chamber.

    It is the commons itself that may seem to need reform as you suggest, and yes we've all seen how the whip works, and how democracy looks to be is subdued.

    But I am sure also that the system we already have in place is there because of historical precedent, and the structure as-is, probably has more memory and ability cope with unforeseen events than we might realise, a bit like the human immune system as analogy.

    So, I think it should be left alone or adjusted with caution. I just wish the House of Lords was stronger, back when Tony Blair came crashing on to the scene and (mid)led the country into a misguided foreign adventure. One of his first moves upon reaching the top post, was to remove some of the regulating ability of the system of government by crippling the the House of Lords. That much should be restored. I cannot understand why the hereditary principle should not be honoured. Other than to check the short-sited and dangerous ambitions of young Turks – to the credit of our country. Old age might be ugly, but there are far too many pretty (media friendly) faces in politics. I wish the trend would stop.


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