Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Lord Bonkers' Diary: Lord Steel of Aikwood - "A Poor Show"
Lord Steel of Aikwood’s supporters will say that he was once a great radical, supporting abortion reform and the struggle against Apartheid in South Africa. Well, I recall that period myself – it occupied several weeks in… 1967, I think it was. I am obliged to record, however, that I have since then found him Increasingly Hard Work.
There was that damned ‘Alliance’ he was so keen on: I tried to convince him, with the aid of a boxful of matches emptied out on the table, that we could not possibly win a majority by standing down in half the seats in the country, but he seemed unable to grasp the arithmetic involved.
Then there was his performance as the first Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament. He tried to establish a tradition that, whenever the monarch visited Edinburgh, the Presiding Officer would lead the procession, walking backwards and alternatively bowing and capering while all the time making little cooing noises of pleasure to himself. I am, I trust, betraying no confidences when I say that the Lord Lyon King of Arms was not impressed, and I am pleased to note that Steel’s successors have allowed his practice quietly to fall into desuetude.
Now Steel has come out against electing the House of Lords, just as his fellow Liberals appear to be making progress with the idea. Perhaps my own position – mine is a Rutland peerage and I am thus guaranteed membership of the upper house, however it may be formed, under the Treaty of Oakham – leads me to take too light a view of the sacrifice reform will ask of existing members, but I recall those weeks in 1967: Steel was pretty hot on Lords’ reform then. Indeed, he was given to making disparaging remarks about “unelected legislators” and – or was this a fancy on my part? – casting pointed glances in my direction.
Whatever the truth of that, now he is himself an unelected legislator he sees nothing wrong with the idea. I have to say, in all candour, that I find that A Poor Show.
Lord Bonkers was Liberal MP for Rutland South-West 1906-10
Earlier this week in Lord Bonkers' Diary