Charles Moore Charles Moore

The Spectator’s Notes | 30 July 2015

Plus: the surprising pleasures of a cruise; revisiting Honfleur; the Pink ’Un; Jeremy Corbyn’s out-of-date beard

Obviously when one attends what the papers call ‘cocaine-fuelled orgies’, one expects to find several members of the peerage present, but I must confess that until all this trouble, I had not heard of Lord Sewel, beyond a vague apprehension that he was a misprint rather than a person. I now discover that he is a Blair peer — a specially ignominious category, rather like Lloyd George’s creations. But I still worry that he has ‘resigned’ from the House of Lords. If we continue to think that our second chamber should be unelected, it should be all but impossible to get rid of a peer once appointed. Otherwise, politics being what it is, the powerful will constantly try to assail and discredit members of the Lords in order, by frightening them, to reduce their independence. The point — contained in the word ‘peer’ — is that all Lords are equals and they should be able to extrude one of their number only by their own processes and only with the greatest difficulty. Clearly Lord Sewel is right to retire from the scene and make more room for his leisure activities (‘hill walking, skiing; watching cricket’, according to Who’s Who), but the net result of his disgrace will be not a cleaner House of Lords but an even weaker one.

We have just returned from our first cruise. Hillsdale College in Michigan — coeducational from its foundation in 1844 — is a bastion of conservative education in the United States (‘Pursuing truth; defending liberty’). Its supporters come on cruises, and are lectured by people like me on improving subjects like Margaret Thatcher. We began in Lisbon, and worked our way up the Atlantic coast, visiting Oporto, St Jean de Luz, Bordeaux, the Normandy beaches. I had slightly dreaded it because of the fear of being cooped up, but I now understand why people like cruises.

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