LORDS REFORM

In between naps, I watched the Federer Murray tennis final, and as predicted, Federer won at a canter.  The one thing that surprised me was that Murray was upset at losing!  I mean, get a reality check!  And the same applies to the overhyped press and media.  Tears followed defeat, shared by several who knew and loved the lad, including his mother and life partner who spent the entire tournament shouting the odds like a fishwife.

But enough of Murray, and back to more pressing issues.

The reform of the House of Lords is on the political agenda, or sort of, with many Tory MPs opposed, and the Lib Dems insisting on reform as their price for supporting boundary changes.  The whole business looks very tacky indeed!

The historians amongst you will remember the Parliament Act 1911, when the Lords backed down and ceded primacy to the Commons on all fiscal matters.  Since then, the Lords has become increasingly a consultative chamber, and when push comes to shove, the Commons reigns supreme.  Fair enough, as the House of Commons is the elected chamber, over which the voting public has a say in its constituent parts.

The problem about the Lib Dems’ proposals is that an elected House of Lords chamber risks elevating it beyond its present remit, to the point where they can, and possibly will, challenge government legislation and propose legislation of their own motion. To a limited extent they can do this now, but it is, above all, to a limited extent.

An elected chamber must ultimately answer to its electorate, or else it defeats the purpose of the exercise.  As an elector, I will not expect my representative to become a ‘yes’ man to the Commons, but to represent me according to my chosen candidate’s manifesto. If he does not, then I shall not vote for him again.  After all, that is the basic principle of democracy.

Reforming the Lords in the way proposed by the Lib Dems is the worst of both worlds. It risks changing their mandate without any checks and balances in place, and frankly, this will jar with the Parliament Act and all that followed. It amounts to a major constitutional change.

I am not sure how it will work.  Do you have to be a Lord before you can stand for election?  If so, that narrows the field and possibly disqualifies the most worthy candidates. If not, do you become a Lord if elected?  And what happens if you lose your seat?  Do you revert to Mr. Joe Bloggs, or are you still Lord Bloggs?

There are two options: either leave the House of Lords as it is, warts and all, and adopt the memorable quip attributed to Louis B Mayer: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.  Or abolish the House of Lords, and have a truly elected chamber similar to the American Senate.  This tinkering at the edges proposed by the Lib Dems is a recipe for constitutional confrontation and, like so many of their ideas, badly thought through if at all.

 

ANYONE FOR TENNIS?

Wimbledon is upon us, giving the BBC a rare chance to shine at the expense of Sky TV.  They may have lost the sports coverage of almost everything else, but Wimbledon and the British Golf Open remain the only jewels in their crown, to be milked for all they’re worth.

I love the whole atmosphere, and above all, the whites only policy, rigidly enforced.  What a joy to see the players properly attired, all in white, instead of the ‘dress as you like’ policy of other lesser tournaments.  I remember the good old days when gentlemen players wore long white trousers, fetchingly secured with the old school tie, and the ladies, never women, wore Alice bands and dresses below their knees.

But times change, particularly in the women’s game, and who am I to complain when I feast my eyes on the likes of Maria Sharapova?  and what’s more, she plays a mean game of tennis!  The men, mercifully, have graduated to more comfortable shorts, and less eye watering for them and the rest of us.  Remember Bjorn Borg and those ball hugging shorts? Still, they didn’t stop him winning everything.

It is also that time of the year when Andy Murray, the Scottish great white hope for fame and glory, is paraded out and given maximum exposure.  He has, however, several hurdles to surmount before fame and glory are his.  The first three are Nadal, Federer and that Serbian whose name nobody can pronounce.  The fact that Murray is incoherent and is married to his mother can’t help either.  Best to leave him alone and if he exceeds all expectations, that’s a bonus.

I like my sports heroes to be clean cut, which is why I don’t like all that grunting on court.  Maria is the worst offender, and frankly, very off putting.  I’m surprised she’s allowed to get away with it.  If I were her opponent, unlikely in the extreme, I’d make a complaint.

Talking of clean cut, I have dipped in and out of the Euro 2012 football competition, and it’s not a pretty sight.  Footballers to a man, with the obvious exception of Ronaldo, are a depressing breed, and offensive to the eye.  And all that gobbing on the pitch, and the histrionics when somebody is tackled!  As somebody once said, football is a gentleman’s game played by hooligans, and he wasn’t far off the mark.

And what about goals, the whole purpose of the exercise?  Two of the best teams in Europe spent two hours kicking the ball this way and that, and no goals to show for their efforts.  If I were to part with £30 or more to watch a football match, I would insist on goals to maximise my enjoyment, so how about abolishing the offside rule?  It spoils the fun!  Better still, why not do what the lad at Rugby School did all those years ago?  Simply pick up the ball, run with it and throw it into the goal!

Besides tennis, I suppose the only remaining sport with a clean cut image is golf.  The golfers and the spectators are well disciplined and polite, except for that moron who appears at every major championship and bellows “In the hole” after every shot.  The players are courteous to each other, hats off and handshakes on the eighteenth green, but I have never understood why they wear baseball caps.

But if I were the golf supremo, I’d rigorously enforce time penalties for those golfers who spend an eternity lining up their putts, padding around the green like a caged animal, and then missing the hole!  Jason Day from Australia is known as All Day for the time it takes him to hit the ball, and we spectators deserve better.

If you want a flutter, my money is on Federer to win Wimbledon, and Luke Donald to win the British Open.  You read it here first!