Where next for the House of Lords? The debate has moved on a long way since that question raced up the agenda, after Labour's landslide victory in 1997.It was possible then for sensible people to regard the Lords as an archaic anomaly with no practical role and even less claim to legitimacy. There was, at that time, more than one reason for taking that view. First, the fact that a clear majority of the House (the hereditaries, 750 out of 1,270) were there only because of an accident of birth – scant justification for political power in a modern democracy.
Ordinary, old-fashioned snobbery and the class war are supposed to be as dead as Monty Python's parrot. Well, they're not. I learnt that in my first year at university – not from lectures but while cleaning halls of residence. There, for the first time in my life (having been thought one of the posh ones at home, 'up North'), I found myself on the receiving end of social snobbery. I had spent the previous year as a cleaner for a small hotel and several houses (while standing by my man as he screwed up his A-levels for a second time, in preparation for screwing up his degree).
SydneyIn his heart of hearts, everyone believes in long prison sentences; it is just that no one agrees about who should receive them. The three-year sentence handed out last week to Pauline Hanson, the former fish-and-chip shop owner who for a time was Australia's answer to Jean-Marie Le Pen, has excited a lively, if not always entirely lucid, debate in Australia. Political liberals who usually cannot wait to forgive criminals for the harm they do to others now crow in vindictive triumph, while the hanging-not-punishment-enough brigade, of whom Hanson herself was once a prominent member, are outraged by the severity of the sentence.
This realm of England is an Empire ...governed by one Supreme Head and King.' So proclaimed Thomas Cromwell in his most critical piece of legislation, the Act in Restraint of Appeals in 1533. By calling England an empire, he designated it a sovereign state, with a king who owed no submission to any other human ruler and who was invested with plenary power to give his people justice in all causes.
The government brought the Hutton inquiry into being by its own shoddy actions. The lying and dissembling of No. 10 has so eroded public trust that, says Rod Liddle, the man responsible – Tony Blair – must goIt seems as if we have another thing for which to thank the beleaguered BBC journalist, Mr Andrew Gilligan. According to Britain in Europe, that tautologically entitled pro-euro pressure group, there is no longer even the slenderest chance that the Prime Minister will attempt to drag us all into the single European currency before the next election.