Boris Johnson is using appointments to the House of Lords, an institution with almost zero democratic legitimacy, as a tawdry bauble, writes Kenny MacAskill
I’m a supporter of a second chamber, whether in the UK or an independent Scotland. The ability to have a further review and considered input enhances democracy.
But planned appointments to the House of Lords, if true, are craven and shameful. An institution with almost zero democratic legitimacy is being treated as a tawdry bauble of office by Boris Johnson.
Ken Clarke’s arguably a worthy recipient, but Ruth Davidson, who’s gone from strenuous opposition to Johnson to his payroll, jettisoning her principles en route, most certainly isn’t.
There are some current members I greatly respect. My friend Baroness Stern’s a member and her extensive knowledge of justice is an asset. I was at a cross-party meeting recently with Lord Alf Dubs who’s a remarkable man whose work on refugee children has been outstanding.
Likewise, I frequently come across Lord James Douglas Hamilton and he’s as charming and thoughtful as he was when we were both MSPs in Holyrood. So, it’s not the existance of a scrutiny body as such or even some of individuals that concerns me but its current structure and those being rewarded by a government whom they’re meant to challenge. The Irish Senate has shown what can be done, producing many recent outstanding Presidents. Oh that we had an institution like that rooted in the democratic process and allowing for considered input. And with appointees perhaps, like Jackie Kay or leading academics, but not political charlatans.