Roll Up, Roll Up, it's the Latest Hereditary Peers' By-Election

The votes have been counted, and the 3rd Viscount Thurso has been elected as the newest member of the House of Lords. I say “newest”, but he was previously a member of the Lords from 1995 until 1999, until his right to sit as a hereditary peer was abolished. Now he’s back.

The victorious candidate did rather well. He received 100% of the vote, on a 100% turnout – a result that even Kim Jong-un would be envious of. Admittedly, he only polled three votes, but still, it was a full and vigorous poll, worthy of Old Sarum.

There was the small matter of manifestos. Candidates to sit in the Lords were able to write a manifesto of up to seventy-five words, setting out the case for why they should be installed as a legislator until their death or retirement. Six of the seven candidates chose to submit such manifestos, emphasising such pressing issues as grocery delivery, and fast food. The seventh candidate, Viscount Thurso, declined to write a manifesto at all. A week later, he scooped up the votes of the entire electorate, made up of his three former parliamentary colleagues.  

The three voters, three white men named Dominic, Patrick and Raymond, were unavailable for comment.

It is truly stirring, in this day and age, to see democracy in the Mother of Parliaments as such a shining example to all.

In related news, a man named “Asquith” did not cast his vote for a man named “Lloyd George”, to no-one's great surprise.


N.B. On a point of pedantry, I have yet to see a news outlet correctly describing who the electorate was. They were not “all the Lib Dem sitting hereditary peers” (there are five – now six – not three), nor were they “the hereditary peers allocated to the Lib Dems” (until Thurso filled the vacant place, there were only two of the three left after Lord Avebury’s death). The electorate was made up of every currently-sitting Lib Dem hereditary peer who was sitting by virtue of a hereditary peerage.

Both the 6th Baron Redesdale, and the 14th Earl of Mar and 16th Earl of Kellie (the two Earls are actually one man, with two titles), started sitting as hereditary peers, and then had their right to sit abolished by the 1999 reforms, but were subsequently awarded life peerages. Since they sit by virtue of life peerages rather than hereditary peerages, neither had a vote in this election. Still awake?

Of the three voters, two were allocated Lib Dem hereditary peers, the 6th Baron Addington and the 10th Earl of Glasgow. The third voter was the 3rd Earl of Oxford and Asquith, a hereditary peer elected from peers across the whole House of Lords to replace another Lib Dem who was part of that “whole-House” grouping, the late 7th Baron Methuen. There was initially an extra peer able to vote, another Lib Dem elected as part of the “whole-House” grouping, the 15th Viscount Falkland, and he did indeed cast a vote in the last Lib Dem hereditary peers’ by-election in 2005. However, in 2011 he ceased to take the Lib Dem whip, so he now has no vote in such elections, shrinking the electorate from four to three.