House of Lords by-elections are back

House of Lords by-elections are back
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In a sign that nature is truly healing, this afternoon brought reassuring news of a great parliamentary tradition reasserting itself: the House of Lords hereditary by-election. These contests are held every time one of the 92 hereditary peers still in the Upper House die and see the great and the not-so-good vote among themselves to elect one of their number for a seat on the red benches. Elections have been suspended due to Covid since March 2020 but now they are back, with four spots up for grabs: one as a crossbench peer and three on the Tory side. Mr S has spent the afternoon combing through the manifestos to bring you the best and the worst of the election statements put out by the lucky lords and ladies hoping to make it into the Upper House. 

In the Tory contest, old contenders do battle with new faces. Back in 2015 the Earl of Limerick ran on a famous manifesto written in verse which ended with the words 'from your seats so well entrenched, please vote that mine may be embenched.' This time Limerick has opted to campaign in prose rather than poetry, plumping for a simple statement detailing his five languages, four careers, 'desire and capacity for active role' and attempts to run a diversified farm portfolio including a microbrewery.  For Viscount Mountgarret such frivolities are clearly beneath him as he is the only peer to offer 'no statement' to his blue-blooded bretheren. Others in the Tory race include Harrovian Lord Margadale and Etonian Lord Harlech, who also attended Saint Martins College and will certainly be hoping to become one of the Commons people come results day. 

Sporting interests are represented in the form of Lord Ashcombe who explains he 'races on the Solent and gardens enthusiastically' and Lord Wrottesley, a former Winter Olympian who bobsled for Great Britain. Sixteen time loser Earl Stockton, the grandson of Harold Macmillan, is making his now traditional bid for power too and will be hoping the winds of change are blowing at his back. Let's hope he at least finishes above both Earl De La Warr – proud 'proprietor of the village pub'– and Lord Dormer whose political highlight appears to be chairing Jesmond Young Conservatives at the age of 22.

In the crossbench contest, the tenth Earl of Albemarle brings a whole new meaning to the term 'fashion parade' by boasting of his experience as a 'designer for 30 years in London, Milan and New York.' Eschewing the edict to never work with animals or children, rival Lord De Clifford lists his interests as 'young people, veterinary and small business' while for Lord Londesborough it appears justice is the prime motivation, noting bitterly that 'within one week' of making his 'single maiden valedictory speech' in 1999, the hereditary election reforms kicked him out of the House. Lord Milverton meanwhile wins the award for pithiest entry with a simple eight word statement of intent: 'to be as objective and reasonable as possible.'

Which lord will be a-leaping come results day? Mr S looks forward to finding out and reminds their noble lordships that tales of ermine clad skullduggery are always most welcome in Steerpike's inbox.

Written bySteerpike

Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to

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