You've found Father McKenzie. But are you really looking for Eleanor Rigby?

Thursday, November 06, 2003

ELECTED A LORD, TWO VOTES TO ONE... No, this is not a spoof from The Onion. It's a genuine news report ...

[UPDATE: Apparently, how it works -- if I've got this right -- is that when Tony Blair's government legislated a couple of years ago to make the House of Lords a mainly appointive chamber, 92 of the 1,000-odd (some very odd) hereditary peers were allowed to stay in the Upper House for a few years longer. This grandfathering provision laid down a specified number of Lords to be elected by and from the former members of each party in the Lords -- X number by the Conservatives, Y from the Labour peers, and so forth. So this particular casual vacancy in His Lordship's seat was filled by a vote of his, err, peer group, not by a direct vote of the great unwashed; hence the very small turnout -- fewer votes were cast than there were candidates standing. Never let anyone tell you that Britain's small-C constitution isn't arcane.

[To be fair, though, I myself have voted to elect a Lord over a decade a go -- Brisbane's Lord Mayor, James "Lord Jim" Soorley, Hizzoner from 1991 to 2003. He didn't get the red ermine cloak, though.]

"Hereditary Peers By-Election Result"

"Nominations for the by-election to replace Lord Milner of Leeds closed on 24 October.

11 candidates registered to stand for election, as follows:

• Lord Biddulph

• The Earl of Carlisle

• Lord Clifford of Chudleigh

• Lord Grantchester

• Lord Hacking

• Viscount Hanworth

• Lord HolmPatrick

• The Earl of Kimberley

• Lord Monkswell

• Viscount Samuel

• Lord Vaux of Harrowden

The result was announced by the Clerk of the Parliaments in the House at 3 pm on Thursday 30 October 2003.

Three votes were cast. Lord Grantchester received two first-preference votes and Viscount Hanworth one. Lord Grantchester was therefore the successful candidate".

How can one help but be reminded of ...

King Arthur: I am your king!

Woman: Well, I didn't vote for you!

King Arthur: You don't vote for kings.

Woman: Well, how'd you become king then?

[Angelic music plays...]

King Arthur: The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water, signifying by divine providence that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur. THAT is why I am your king!

Dennis: [interrupting] Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government! Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony!

from Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

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