I’ve just spent an hour or so going through the biographies of the members of the House of Lords. Well, those whose names begin with the letters A-F. (It seemed to me that it might be worth writing to members of the House of Lords as well as to MPs and local papers and so on about the whole MMC thing) . They’re a pretty rum bunch, I have to say.
There really is no such thing as a “Typical” Lord, but there are some Types.
The men big up their early jobs as postmen or lathe-turners and also lay great stress on their activities in a Union or in Local Government. The women may have spent a few years nursing and lots of years telling other people how to nurse. Some activists were loonie-leftie counsellors in the basket-weaving-black-disabled-lesbian-creche days of the GLC. Others have a long career fighting real problems such as ethnic minority rights.
The Career Civil Servant
Remember Sir Humphrey? He’s now Lord Oleaginous of Patronage.
Public School, the Royal Agricultural College, a year or two in the Army, and a life either animal husbandry or merchant banking. Or both. No jokes about buggery or the collective noun for bankers being a wunch, please. Mind you, one of the youngest of them lists his career as “artist” and his interest as “keeping bees”.
The Engineer or the Scientist
I was suprised by the number of engineers who end up in the House of Lords. On the other hand, engineering covers quite a wide range of activities: construction, petrochemicals, bio-engineering, even manufacturing. I found it rather comforting to see so many science degrees though.
A couple of law degrees, a distinguished career, a choice of wigs. Why practice law when you can make it?
The Media Type
These ones have the flakiest or luvviest CVs. I am sorry, but being an advertising agent does not make you one of the great and good. The press barons make this lot look seedy, and when you think how seedy the press barons are, that is quite an achievement.
The Lords are an educated bunch, most of them have good first degrees, (though there are a depressing number of economists on the red benches), and a fair number of them have Masters or Doctorates too. I was particularly impressed by the Physicist who mentioned that he had 14 honorary doctorates.
I’ll tell you something else about the Lords. They are all incredibly well connected. They are networkers par excellence, (apart from the bee-keeping artist). They get involved. They sponsor this, and chair that, and are members of the other, and have been doing it for two, three or even four decades.
Secretly, I’m rather impressed. Some of them are quite clearly deeply experienced professionals: intelligent, educated and probably wise. Others are slimy brown-nosing politicos. There were a fair few of them I’d like to meet. By and large, I was surprised by the diversity in the Upper Chamber.
PS – If you fancy a stint looking for doctors in ermine, please start at the letter L, and post the names of whoever you find in the comments. Not that I’m cadging, or anything.