Lords are a-leaping and Ladies are dancing

Lords are a-leaping and Ladies are dancing at the prospect of a free lunch for life. For our newly unelected peers, elevated to parliament by Boris Johnson, need not “Eat Out to Help Out” and get Rishi Sunak’s tenner off their pub grub. Their House of Lords dining experience is already half price, courtesy of us taxpayers.

Boris Johnson seems to be intensely relaxed about spaffing colossal wads of public cash up the wall for, what some would consider largely unproductive areas of our legislature. Shame the same degree of exuberant largesse does not apply to our kids’ school lunches. But then, kids can’t usefully benefit Johnson in return.

Never mind the ludicrousness of having an unelected body of influential decision makers in a modern democracy. If my maths tally, were all 830 House of Lords members to present themselves at the gate on a given day, pocketing their £300+ prize for turning up, the cost to the tax payer would be a cool quarter-of-a-million quid, just for that one day.

Of course, that would be silly, as only around 300 peers can actually fit onto the plush red benches in the House of Lords at any one time. But they do only have to sign in, they are then free to wander off to the lavish bars, lofty restaurants or posh libraries to while away a pleasant day with their chums. So no need for perching on each other’s laps in the chamber itself. Although that might actually add some pizzazz to the proceedings..

But I digress. Allowing for holidays, duvet days and just being generous, we are talking about a potential cost to the public purse of around £40 million a year, just for turning up and signing the register. Nice work if you can get it. Now add the aforementioned generous perks, subsidised bars, dining rooms and ancillary costs of polishing all those knobs and knockers.

What’s more, scores of these privileged many have rarely contributed anything of any use whatsoever, while claiming millions in return. Figures from 2018 showed that the average peer cost the taxpayer £83,000 with £67.9million paying for 814 members at that time.

And the good Lords and Ladies need not worry about being handed their P45 any time soon. They can’t be sacked. The job is for life. Yes really.

So kids, the moral of this story is – if you want lunch, strive towards the House of Lords.

Unless we have managed to abolish this excrutiatingly embarrassing institution it in the meantime, of course.

And all that said, we do get the government we deserve so don’t just sit there! Join the Electoral Reform Society, get stuck in, help clean up these ridiculously crony infested corners of Westminster and restore some dignity to our Parliament.

 

The Westminster Dating Game

On Monday the 11th of May 2020 Boris Johnson ruffled up his coiffure and with customary big arm movements made a major announcement.  Johnson cheerfully proclaimed that, in two months time, on Saturday the 4th of July to be exact, we could all go to the hairdressers again. To add a bit of froth, the pubs would open too. Had Johnson been visiting Mystic Meg or had he just peered into Dominic Cummings’ very own crystal ball?

The country was in the darkest hour of Covid lockdown, new coronavirus cases were exploding daily to above 32,000, deaths from Covid-19 were soaring to what then seemed a staggering 14,573. We were all clapping our carers on Thursdays and children would likely not be back in school till September. So what did he know that the scientists didn’t? What magic did Saturday the 4th of July hold, that would wash away our virus woes?

The answer, of course, is that Boris Johnson did not know and the 4th of July does not have any particular powers over global pandemics. What it does have, being the American Independence Day, is great recognition value. And that’s something Boris Johnson does understand – style over substance. Johnson could smartly sell this as the British Independence Day. Ironic really, given how the original July 4 came about – declaration of US independence from the rule of the British monarch.

So, this was purely a, now familiar, case of shipping out the science, and just picking another daft date with which to navigate the nation’s viral tsunami, never mind the fallout. Medics and scientists are nervous, to say the least, that, after three months of idle beer pumps, pubs are opening on a Saturday. “Can’t it at least wait till the quieter Monday?” they ask. No, Monday is the 6th of July and that sounds just a bit lame. No sound bite and oven-ready headline for Johnson to trumpet.

And the Tories do have form when it comes to picking daft dates. Here are a few of their recent prize picks:

2019

01 April, April Fool: Day One after Brexit (it didn’t happen, fooled you?)

31 October, Halloween: Announcing a new Brexit date (Zombies?)

31 December, New Years Eve: Brexit – (again)

2020

04 July, US Independence Day: End of the (First?) Covid-19 lockdown

At least this daft-date map comes in handy for planning our own future diaries. We can at least guess which dates we can expect for more big headline announcements from the Government:

13 July, Battle of the Boyne (controversial)

31 August, Summer Bank Holiday (let’s send this virus packing! Again)

25 October, End of Daylight Saving (darkness falls…)

05 November, Guy Fawkes Day (could be a winner)

08 November, Remembrance Sunday (in case Guy Fawkes doesn’t work)

So there’s our Boris Johnson/Dominic Cummings event roadmap for the next six months. Forewarned is forearmed. Wear a mask, wash your hands, carry a tape measure. And your diary.

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