Richard North, 01/08/2020  
 


On seeing some of the names on the honours list, one wonders whether this government can sink any lower.

Unfortunately, the answer to that is probably yes, but it also brings into high profile the need completely to rethink the House of Lords. It is probably beyond reform and should, therefore, be abolished completely, to be replaced by something closer to a senate.

Any such upper house must be substantially smaller than at present. With near 830 members, the bloated size of this legislature is obscene. And something really must be done to prevent politicians abusing it the way they are doing. I'm not even sure an elected house is the answer. We might give sortition a chance – possibly with the lottery drawn from those who have a specified range of qualifications and/or experience.

However, there is absolutely no chance of this happening under the current administration which clearly has not the slightest concern for the opinion of the nation. Where the prime minister can promote cronies and seriously weird people such as Claire Fox, normal forms of restraint have clearly ceased to function.

For the most part, though, I suspect that the news will be treated with indifference. This is what we expect from that shabby lot in London – that's what they do. One can only imagine the contempt they must feel for ordinary mortals. But, increasingly, they are losing respect and support – even if hard-core loyalists will be unaffected.

When this comes at the same time as the unannounced partial lockdown in the North, signifying another level of mismanagement in the Covid-19 epidemic, I am entirely unconvinced that the government has a handle on this crisis, or that its central management of local outbreaks is contributing anything of value.

For the moment, though, the papers are content to retail lockdown stories, most of them uncritical – although there are some stories conveying the concerns of people caught up in the lockdowns. I wonder this time, though, whether compliance rates will be as high as previously, and whether we start seeing open disobedience.

It is certainly the case that I am not inclined to take advice or instruction from as tawdry a man as this prime minister, but then he never had much credibility as far as I was concerned. What is different is that any residual credibility attached to the office has also gone. This is a figure who attracts contempt, which increases by the day – if that is possible.

The problem is that there are only so many times one can say what amounts to the same thing, and the limited opinion polls would suggest that the prime minister still has a loyal, unwavering following. Sentiment can and does change, but people have to find out for themselves, and make up their own minds. To an extent, we're limited by the slowest ships in the convoy.

I'm disinclined, therefore, to flog a dead horse, offering further analysis of why this government should not be in office – not least, because we have nothing credible with which to replace it. The time will come – it always does – when there will be change. I can only hope that it is sooner rather than later.

In the way of things, though, no lasting political change seems to happen without a strong element of campaigning. I think we have to ask ourselves whether it is safe to sit passively and wait for change to happen or whether we should be more proactive in rooting out this decay in the body politic.






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