Alexander Pelling-Bruce Alexander Pelling-Bruce

Why Tom Watson’s peerage should be blocked

Is Jeremy Corbyn attempting to foment the abolition of the House of Lords? His recent peerage nominations suggest so. Corbyn has put forward a former Speaker mired in bullying allegations who facilitated a parliamentary revolution. A failed apparatchik under investigation for her handling of anti-Semitism. And Tom Watson.

The former Labour deputy leader is perhaps the most reprehensible choice given his role in the Carl Beech affair. Beech, known as ‘Nick’, made multiple false allegations of sexual assault and murder, which led to the destruction of the careers, livelihoods and reputations of several men who truly served the nation.

But there is nothing inevitable about Watson being elevated to the Lords. The House of Lords Appointment Commission, which is responsible for vetting peers, can – and ought to – advise against Watson’s elevation.

The Commission’s website states that its role is to:

‘Advise the Prime Minister if it has any concerns about the propriety of a nominee. The Commission takes the view that in this context, propriety means:i) the individual should be in good standing in the community in general and with the public regulatory authorities in particular; andii) the past conduct of the nominee would not reasonably be regarded as bringing the House of Lords into disrepute.’

It’s not clear what is meant by the typically vacuous word ‘community’. But it should be plain to the Commission that Tom Watson’s standing is pretty low amongst those with a common conception of fairness.

It is not just that Watson was gullible in his dealings with Carl Beech. This can be forgiven. It was the deliberately negligent actions he took after meeting him which are so damning.

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