24 May 2009

Ten lords a-blogging

Dr Grumble is a strong supporter of the House of Lords. There was a time when the House of Commons may have done its job properly but that is no longer the case. Like many others, Dr Grumble is thoroughly disenchanted with the career politicians who just do what they are told by the party whips. We need people in parliament who have had a life outside politics, who have some sort of expertise and who can think for themselves. The odd honourable independent does slip in to the Commons but they are few and far between. Dr Richard Taylor, a physician, is an example. How do you think he voted on the Iraq war? How much do you think he claimed in allowances compared with the others? You can find out here if you can't guess.

There are a good few blogging lords. Lord Darzi has a blog but it is rather lacklustre and best known for being something of a damp squib. In desperation Lord Darzi's blog has undergone a face lift and his fan even got a mention. Perhaps Dr Grumble is being unkind. Quite honestly he no longer reads the Darzi blog. Of nobles' blogs Dr Grumble prefers Lords of the Blog which has many more readers and some decent writers. Lords of the Blog is a genuine blog with contributors from all parties. Their lordships do not hesitate to put you right if you have got something wrong. That, of course, is the strength of blogging. Here is Baroness Murphy putting Dr Grumble right when he asked to be elevated to the House of Lords to increase the number of doctors in the second chamber:

But Dr Grumble, we have lots of medics in the Lords of whom I am one of course. We have Murphy, Walton of Detchant, Turnberg, Finlay of Llandaff, Alderdice, Patel, Rea, Winston…and Darzi of course, plus at least 2 dentists, Colwyn and Gardner of Parkes, several trained nurses including Emerton. There are no doubt more that have slipped my mind for the moment. The health professions aren’t badly represented and of course on health policy we hold widely differing views, so that’s quite a bit reassuring.

It's sad that Dr Grumble who was angling to to become Lord Grumble of Blogspot was rebuffed but it's a great honour to be put right by a baroness. It's not actually the first time Dr Grumble has been put right by a baroness but that's not the point. Dr Grumble could be anybody. Baroness Murphy has no idea who Dr Grumble is but she still interacted as bloggers around the world do. It makes Dr Grumble feel that the democratic process is working. It's just rather unfortunate that it's the democracy bit that is completely missing from the Lords. Not that Dr Grumble wants an elected second chamber. Not at all. There is not much wrong with the House of Lords as it is. Quite often they come to what the public would consider to be the right decision when the Commons has got things very wrong. They do a lot of the donkey work on details that the Commons just cannot be bothered with. And, as for democracy, the elected chamber has the final say anyway. So what could be better than that?


sam said...

Yes you are being unkind to Professor Lord Darzi Dr G because you know why I am a fan:


Of course now that Medical Education for England is now up and running, we can add that too to Lord Darzi's list of what he has done for the uniors who are his fans too because he 'saved' them when nobody else could following MTAS 2007


Of course I am a fan of yours too and have been even from before I started blogging myself and for the same reason, that you stood by the juniors in their time of need and did what you could do to help, either on this blog, on the Remedy UK forum or, indeed, commenting in newspapers whenever this was allowed.

Ara Darzi deserves the credit so let's give him that.

sam said...

I mean 'juniors' of course

Regards :-)

Dr Grumble said...

It's an honour to share a fan with Lord Darzi.

sam said...

Fans, are for sharing?!!! This turns the whole meaning of the word upside down! I like things to stand the right way up, hence my being a fan of Lord Darzi

Dr Aust said...

Well, I'd vote for your elevation to Lord Grumble... except we don't vote for Lords, sadly.

Any chance of you becoming President of the College of Physicians, Dr G? I always understood that was a popular path to becoming a medical Lord. Or perhaps get elected to Parliament for one term as a "Clean Hands" (!) candidate (who better than a doctor, after all...) and then get ennobled after that...

On a more serious note, it is apparent, if one reads the debates on matters scientific and medical, that some good sense can be found across parties in both Houses. Unfortunately, so can some complete and utter idiocy.

Of course, The Lords has the interesting plus that no-one in it needs to get re-elected, and most of them are not touting for office, so they don't have to grovel to the whips like the MPs. The Commons debate on the Embryo Bill showed that there are people with brains in the Commons. Unfortunately, the adversarial party system, complete with whipping, means that most of them are prevented from using them on most issues.

The Embryo bill was, of course, a free vote, so MPs were for once allowed to speak their mind free of party positions. I reckon, actually, that it is only on free votes (usually on things deemed "matters of conscience"}, when we get much of sense of MPs and what they really believe. I personally think the departing speaker was wrong about the House of Commons being at its best when united. It is at its best when MPs are debating these matters of conscience, because for once you see a real debate of ideas, articulated without evasions.

Dr Grumble said...

I don't think things have always been as bad in the Commons as they are now. There used to be rather more free thinkers with passion for their cause who were prepared to speak out on the important issues of the day. Unfortunately recent prime ministers have been contemptuous of parliament, have kept their MPs under a tight rein and consequently have failed to benefit from in-depth debates on the important issues of the day. Announcements are made on youtube or to the media rather than in parliament. These trends have led to a weakening of our democracy to such an extent that the public are now contemptuous of parliament and seem to view their MPs as self-seeking spongers off the state.

If you have prime ministers who are convinced they are right adopt a presidential style of government and do not value the opinions of others this is the result.

We have a system which could work if party leaders allowed it to. Because they haven't we now risk reform which could lead to a new untried system with all the risks that entails.