Magazine article The Spectator

Vote out That Woman

Magazine article The Spectator

Vote out That Woman

Article excerpt

If you have tears, prepare to shed them now. The following announcement was this week made in the personal columns of the Daily Telegraph:

Lord and Lady Cochrane of Cults wish to thank all those who have worked in the House of Lords during the past nine years for their unfailing helpfulness, particularly the Doorkeepers, Refreshment Department and the Library. They have been truly appreciated. Also we send to you our friends on all the benches our heartfelt thanks for their help, and the shared knowledge of their many fields. Thank you, every one of you, and may you now be blessed with calm seas and a fair wind. Cults, November 1999.

With that valediction the 4th Baron Cochrane departed the national stage, never to sit up late in the library again, never more to coddle his intellect or struggle over a speech, in the hope that what he had to say, with the rococo politeness of the Upper House, might be of some conceivable benefit to the nation. Like poppies felled by a passing scythe, Cochrane and his kind have been removed from the legislature. Their very rights to enter the building, to buy a drink for those whom they once called their peers, are in question.

All the calm and the courtesy and the good manners that the reader detects in that tiny announcement, all the humble esteem of other people's expertise - everything, in short, that Cochrane had to offer - has been rejected by our New Labour masters. Nothing he had to say was of any interest or relevance, apparently, in this money-venerating age of teenage telly barons and Internet start-up kings. His ejection would not be so painful, perhaps, if Blair and co. had shown the slightest sense of what they were doing.

Labour could have chosen to let the peers go with the tact and understanding that have distinguished the Upper House. We could have had a phrase or two of appreciation for what they have done; the hours they have dedicated in the belief, mistaken or otherwise, that they were making a difference. We could have had just a muttered acknowledgment of what they have stood for - what their names alone have stood for - in the history of Britain.

Instead we have had nothing, except the glossy-red lip-smacking savagery and rudeness of Baroness Jay. As Peter Oborne points out on another page, the whole business has been disfigured by her inability to resist gloating, pouting and posturing, putting her pretty little feet on the mounded bellies of her victims. She has derided the hereditaries. She has accused them of all the worst vices that are known to New Labour. She has behaved, in the middle of a solemn constitutional change, like a silly, spiteful termagant in a left-wing junior common room. …

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