BLAME IT ON THE RUSSIANS

For my many faithful readers, you may have been alarmed and perturbed by my recent absence, and you are wondering why.  I suspect you are feeling lonely and unloved, and crave an explanation.

The explanation is somewhat mundane, although you may feel, as I do, that sinister forces are at work. Three weeks ago, my wife and I decided to take a short break in the Algarve, where, according to the promotional blurb, the sun spends the winter.  Not this winter!

We chose Squeezijet as our preferred carrier, although, if the truth be known, we were not exactly spoiled for choice.  It was either that or Ryanair, better known as FlyinFear, and the only airline with outside lavatories.

We arrived to grey skies, a cool wind and steady rain, but we comforted ourselves in the belief that it would soon blow over, with blue skies and sunshine just round the corner.  Not so.  The word on the beach was that a belt of cold air was coming from east of the Urals, and immediate suspicion fell on Vladimir Putin.  And like a bad smell, it hung around for days.

I was amazed that Putin found time to interfere with the weather when he was in the middle of a re-election campaign for president, and by all accounts, it was on a knife edge.  The only credible candidate was Alexei Navalny, a brave yet foolhardy man who stood up to Putin and for his temerity, was subsequently barred from standing in the election following a trumped up charge  of fraud.  In passing, if fraud were a sound basis for disqualifying a candidate, why was Putin standing?

In the absence of Navalny, the next best candidate to unseat Putin was Bozo the clown.

It’s a strange business being a dictator.  You seize power for the good of the people, you suppress all opposition, again for the good of the people, you starve millions of your fellow countrymen, again for the good of those who survive, always ensuring there’s more than enough for you, your cronies and the army, and to legitimise your oppressive behaviour, you call elections from time to time which are rigged, so that you can declare to the world and his dog that your government is for the people and by the people.

But what I want to know, why bother?

THE AXEMAN COMETH

The recent scandal involving peers of the realm allegedly with their snouts in the trough, nothing new there, raises yet again the debate about a second chamber and the pathetic efforts so far to reform it.

Time to grasp the nettle and think the unthinkable. For many years my wife harboured the forlorn hope of becoming Lady Osborne, and so, ever the one to please her, I considered the various options. After a rigorous process of elimination, I opted for the ‘cash for honours’ route. I was the soul of discretion as I showered my chosen political party with wodges of hot sweaty money in large brown envelopes handed over in dark alleyways, but sadly, my chosen political party lost the 1997 election in a mire of sleaze, and without a receipt to my name, I became the forgotten man.

With my ‘slush fund’ badly depleted, I was cast adrift, and my tentative overtures to the party in power to rebuild my credibility were rebuffed. Call me the Vicar of Bray if you will, but actions speak louder than words, and there were others ahead of me in the queue with stronger claims than mine.

But don’t get me wrong. My desire to reform the House of Lords is not born of malice or any sense of injustice. Think of me if you will as an Olympian with nothing more than altruistic motives and a burning wish to serve my fellow human beings, or certainly those less fortunate than myself.

So here follows Osborne’s manifesto for the greater good:

  1. Abolish the House of Lords – full stop!

  1. Repeal the Life Peerages Act 1958 and divest all life peers of their titles with immediate effect, whether they be ‘troughers’, ‘trouserers’, criminals or any combination of the three.

  1. Let the judges serving on the new Supreme Court retain their titles, and besides, where would we be without the likes of Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers? Now that’s what I call a title! At least their lordships sitting in loc judiciaris can be seen to be doing something useful from time to time.

  1. Adopt the Roman and American bi-cameral system, and replace the House of Lords with an elected Senate. In keeping with its Latin meaning ‘House of Elders’, there must be a minimum age qualification, I suggest fifty, to keep out pimply youths, and as with the House of Commons, there should be no compulsory retirement age. Let the people decide if any particular candidate is past his or her sell by date.

  1. Candidates for both Houses would stand for election in the same way as do Members of Parliament, at least once every five years. It should not be beyond the whit of the common herd to put an X in two boxes instead of just one.

The rest is simply fine tuning, and I leave that to the pencil pushers in the public sector, who know more about ‘troughing’ and ‘trousering’ than we could ever learn in a lifetime of regret.

Brilliant or what!?! And who knows, there might be a peerage in it for me, and Lady Osborne can at last hold up her head in polite society.