Sunday, July 12, 2009

House of Lords reform – who would vote for a bishop?

As the Church of England is preoccupied by matters synodical and episcopal, it appears that Gordon Brown is to have one final push to bequeath to the nation a legacy. Having already tampered with (indeed, abolished) the Royal Prerogative in the appointment of Church of England bishops, the Prime Presbyterian of Scotland is to begin the formal unravelling of the Church-State settlement which has endured since the Reformation: he is to remove the 26 bishops who sit in the Upper House as the Lords Spiritual.

In an age of devolution, what constitutional, legal or moral right does a Scot have to tamper with the customs and laws and of England?

In typical Blairite ‘Third Way’ fashion, in order to avoid a constitutional crisis, the bishops are not to be physically removed: they will retain the trappings of power, but lose their right to vote. Like Parliament itself - that erstwhile 'origin of all just power' - they will seem to have authority, but possess none. They will retain their pulpit, but lose their potency. They will simply be part of a talking shop; legislators whose sovereignty has been removed. The judgement of God upon King Nebuchadnezzar is a constant reminder that the kingdoms of the earth belong to the Lord and that sovereignty may indeed be removed. And for the moral disablement of Parliament and the subjection of its omnipotence to foreign potentates, the emasculation of the Lords Spiritual and the demotion of the Church of England simply follow that endured by the Lords Temporal and the Commons, not to mention the judiciary, the civil service, the Monarchy and the BBC.

Perhaps this is judgement. After all, few bishops have contributed much of any value since the theological colleges began to make ecumenical socialism an article of faith, and elevated The Guardian to the status of holy writ. And those who dare to hold Conservative convictions are obliged to hide their light under a bushel lest they suffer the same fate as the Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali.

But the Church is divided on the issue.

On the one hand, there are those who believe that if the Church loses its privileged place in the House of Lords, the Christian faith will be further marginalised. Canon David Houlding, a member of the Archbishops’ Council, said: “This is a punch to the solar plexus. It is a direct threat to the establishment of the Church. The Bishops provide a crucial voice for an important strand of life of this country, and if you strip them of their vote that voice is destroyed.’

And on the other hand is the voice of the Rev Colin Coward, a Salisbury cleric, who believes: ‘There should be a fully elected second chamber and Bishops should be eligible for election like everyone else.’

But who would vote for a bishop?

By what mechanism would he (for a ‘he’ it would be) be elected? PR? FPTP? STV? AV? Drawing straws? Prayer?

Cranmer knows of only one bishop who might be likely to win by popular vote, and he is a man whom David Cameron ought to elevate to the House of Lords in his own right.

And would Bradford, Oldham or Leicester get to vote for their local imam instead?

Might the likes of Abu Hamza become a Lord Spiritual?

If not, surely this is religious discrimination and subject to the Human Rights agenda incorporated into UK law in order to halt the stead stream of appeals to the European Courts?

The proposals for reform are due to be unveiled by the Government later this month. Jack Straw will have the honour, and will doubtless be supported by the usual secularising suspects (including, now, John Bercow as Speaker). Cranmer hopes and expects that Dominic Grieve will resist every move to weaken the position of the Established Church, or at least frustrate and delay the plans in order to ensure that there is an election before any proposals reach the Statute Books.

It is fortuitous that today the Bishop of Winchester, Michael Scott-Joynt, observes: ‘The sad fact is that Britain – which owes so much to its Christian heritage – is increasingly becoming a “cold” place which, as any reflection on the fruit of Christian good works will demonstrate, is not in the general interest of society.’

The anti-Christian coldness is New Labour: Gordon Brown's heart is frozen.

It is time for a thaw.


Blogger John Doe said...

I want people to imagine me using foul language here, and replace ordinary words like 'people' with extreme foul language.

So here goes.

The sooner these 'people' are detached from the political process of this country the better it will be for Christians like myself. They are useless 'people', they serve no function with regards to the Christan faith.

These 'people' have destroyed the Christan faith in this country, they have repelled the masses from the doors of churches throughout the nation. They self righteous and pompous 'people'.

I sincerely hope they are all thrown out as soon as possible so that they can no longer have any political influence, and no longer make stupid and unhelpful statements that anyone will ever make the mistake of taking seriously ever again.

Gas them, shoot them, do what you will with them, but get them out of the God Dam way.

12 July 2009 at 10:51  
Anonymous len said...

I find myself rather surprisingly agreeing with Mr Doe.
The majority of these bishops seem to be 'Christian 'in name only.
Remove these imposters and let the True church of Jesus Christ speak out!

12 July 2009 at 11:20  
Anonymous TBF said...

There might be one more bishop who could win a popular vote, don't you think, Your Grace?

12 July 2009 at 11:33  
Anonymous Uncle F said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12 July 2009 at 12:02  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Are the Lords Spiritual more unspeakable than the odious Lord Ahmed threatening to bring down thousands of militant Muslims on the Lords if he didn't get his own way?

The House of Commons rules and the House of Lords overrules as the old saying goes. It's the overruling bit that sticks in the craws of the Nu-Fascists so they are going to destroy the Lords one way or another. This is just the latest ploy.

12 July 2009 at 12:08  
Blogger John Doe said...

How many real Christians are bloggers, or readers of blogs, and how usefully are articles like this? Maybe a lot of Christians do not subscribe to the fevered Iain Dale version of the blog medium. After all, he may indeed set the standards for inclusion onto his own top 500, but is his fooling everyone?

My own hope is that this is not the case. His views are narrow to say the least. His blog is highly moderated, it gives the illusion that all comments are included, but when you touch a nerve ending, your comment evaporates. If this is the Tory idea of 'fighting a clean campaign' (the war room), then I hope not everyone is taken in by it.

Subjects like this one today are very serious, and to have an open discussion is a good thing, but to taint the medium with open and blatant bias will destroy the legitimacy of the debate and render it no different from the bias and blatant propaganda of the mainstream media.

I think for real debate to take place His Grace should consider new loyalties. We need to escape from this closed shop Tory club arena and find a clean and refreshing way to open up the debate properly.

12 July 2009 at 12:19  
Anonymous Jack of Blades said...

Does anyone think a similar settlement for the hereditary peers who have lost their places in the Lords might be a useful way of restoring much-needed voices to Parliament without falling foul of modern, trendy prejudices against the role of aristocracy in politics?

"And on the other hand is the voice of the Rev Colin Coward, a Salisbury cleric, who believes: ‘There should be a fully elected second chamber and Bishops should be eligible for election like everyone else.’"

What a lot of rubbish. If you're going to choose Peers by the vote all you're going to end up with is a duplicate of the House of Commons full of second-raters. Introducing PR into the mix certainly woudn't help mattters; it would occassion blazing rows between the Upper and Lower Houses as to who really had the 'democratic mandate'.

You might as well just have a unicameral system (and we know from history how well that worked in Scotland). Selection by national lottery, please.

12 July 2009 at 12:25  
Anonymous Bethel said...

Jack-and of course they will all be claiming blessed expenses...Oh joy.

12 July 2009 at 12:34  
Blogger John Doe said...

Comment Deleted by admin

This is highlighting my point about the nature of the Tory battle to dominate the blogs. Before this comment was dleted I noticed it linked to a site called

This is a send up of the Iain Dale version of truth, and was instantly evaporated from this blog. My case in point: you know when you touch a nerve ending because deletion is instant.

12 July 2009 at 12:40  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find myself rather surprisingly agreeing with Mr Doe.
The majority of these bishops seem to be 'Christian 'in name only.
Remove these imposters and let the True church of Jesus Christ speak out!

It is hard not to agree.

Cranmer; As you seem to rightly believe that the Anglican Church adopted ecumenical socialism some while ago. I fail to see how the CofE remaining The established church is at all useful for the true followers of The Word.

IMO, and of that of many many others.

Socialism is the work of the Devil, which uses all of his darkest Black Arts to retain its unholy hold over the spiritual and material existence of the common people.

Socialism is the bastard child of the establishment, begotten, financed and promoted by same. Its only aim is to ultimately enslave humanity within a ONE WORLD VICIOUSLY AUTHORITARIAN DICTATORSHIP.

Socialism; is not being nice to other people, to say the very least.

Socialism; has nothing whatsoever to do with the more equal sharing of wealth. In reality quite the opposite.

Socialism; is all about industrial scale MASS MURDER, mind control, and the cruelest forms of corporatism. Along with virtually all wealth and freedom being owned, by the very smallest amount of high establishment, almost infinitely wealthy, and anonymously elitist individuals. Surly this is a matter of well documented HISTORICAL FACT?

Socialism operates now as it has always done, under a variety of sheep's clothing. Such as Communism, Marxism, National Socialism, International Socialism, Fabianism, Nazism, and the most infamous of all FASCISM. It does this when not also working under the name of conservatism, even sometimes libertarianism.

Establishment appointed Bishops and especially Arch-Bishops have done more to stifle or corrupt the true message of Jesus, then any elected politician would dare to do. That includes Gordon Brown.

Gordon Brown and his extremely powerful mates have a higher religion to answer to. A religion so high and so incredibly well established, that few will even speak its name. Those that dare, are usually called CONSPIRACY THEORISTS, or soon to be DEAD PEOPLE. Although a more accurate phrase would be, TRUE HISTORIANS.

My advice is to trust NO ONE, or anything. Even more so that which at first appears to be the most trustworthy. Other then the existence of your own god given moral compass, and plum rule.

For we all instinctively know the difference between RIGHT and WRONG, Justice and injustice, Good and Evil. We know this, regardless of instruction, blindly perceived self interest, or great immediate need.


We do not require any form of established or otherwise Church to teach us anything, we do not already fully know, and understand within our hearts.

Atlas shrugged

12 July 2009 at 12:44  
Anonymous A contra mundum said...

Can anyone tell me why Lord Ahmed
did not suffer any consequences for threatening violence against the Lords.Wasn't he breaking the law?

12 July 2009 at 13:07  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr Doe,

The comment to which you refer was not deleted because of the hyperlink, but because it did nothing but hurl insults and give gratuitous offence.

His Grace prefers intelligent and erudite contributions. He is not an apologist for the cause to which you refer, and neither is he quick to delete, as you aver. But he is intolerant of any post which simply says every member of the House of Lords 'is a faggot' - a fact which you conveniently omitted from your criticism.

12 July 2009 at 13:17  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

@ A contra mundum (13:07)—Lord Ahmed suffered no consequences because he is Muslim. For whatever reason, the authorities treat Muslims differently to the rest of us. Read this newspaper story and watch this video.

12 July 2009 at 13:48  
Blogger John Doe said...

To call them all fagots would be a statistical misrepresentation Your Grace, I agree.

But if there are no Bishops voting in the Lords, this would change my life because??????????

12 July 2009 at 14:06  
Anonymous A contra mundum said...

Well obviously Johnny R some action needs to be taken.Are we supposed to live in fear and put up with this because they might let off more bombs in Central London. What do you think should be done?

12 July 2009 at 14:19  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

@ A contra mundum—We need a government that will defend Britain against Islam, whatever party that government is drawn from.

12 July 2009 at 15:16  
Blogger ultramontane grumpy old catholic said...

Your Grace

I have come round to the view that the US senate is a good model for a second chamber. In the US there are 2 senators for each state in the union, and half of them are elected every two years. The composition of the senate will reflect the publics views of the executive, and thus give the public an opportunity to reign in an overweening government.

What I fear is that at the next election, disgust at the current mob might be so great that the Tories will be swept into power with a large majority.

As we have found over the last 12 years very large majorities do not make for good government. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. And so the sorry saga will continue.

If we had voting Lords, elected 2 or 3 per county (for example), we could have any number of non-voting Lords appointed, the great, the good, the experts, even the cronies. And if one third of the the voting peers were elected every two years, the electorate would have a chance to reshape the Lords and enable the Lords to delay or throw back unacceptable legislation dreamed up by the House of Commons.

And what about these non voting peers - surely they would be paper tigers? Not a bit of it! Most of us who have been some time on this earth know that if you can gain respect, you can influence decisions. So it is up to the non voting peers to persuade by the force of their arguments.

Writing to a Lord is so different to writing to an MP. Anyone who has ever written to their MP will know that the MP will take the trouble to reply, and some even argue their case. Writing to a Lord is so different. For a start you dont know which one to write to, and end up writing to a large number. On the basis of recent experience about 16% bother to acknowledge, and even fewer write back in a letter.

So I am all for making the Lords accountable to an electorate.

12 July 2009 at 15:43  
Anonymous not a machine said...

it is shame that the son on the manse and his presbyterian conscience couldnt do more to support the Christain faith, how else can one interpret this skullduggery and meddling as anything but removing the Christian presence from the Lords .

the palace of westminster is perhaps the place most ineed of God .

I have given some thought to lords reform and perhaps the only thing that needs reforming is the ability of the prime minister to send his/her choices there .Elections would cost a fortune as well as create another political class .

It is quite wrong of the PM to change the lords without putting it to the people first or not explaining the low cost of the current system . An elected house would perhaps be more corrupt .

i do agree that becoming a Peer in the lords should signify that you have served your country in your chosen field , that would certainly rule out the a number of labour peers , who have been all to keen to keep quiet when there party failed to deliver its manfesto promise on lisbon , and take there allownace .

12 July 2009 at 17:00  
Blogger UKViewer said...

Another case of the Socialist mentality, meddling where they can before they are given their cards at the next election.

The Constitution has done well enough for the last 400 years, we do not need these changes.

Perhaps we need a Labour Parliament, with an Independent Upper house with the power of veto on all Government legislation, No Political Parties allowed, just Lords of the Realm by birth or raised through Good Works to the peerage.

The Bishops would continue in the upper house, but all Bishops should be seated - and be required to attend. This would allow the Church to get on with being the Church of God, without any more interference.

12 July 2009 at 17:09  
Anonymous not a mouse said...

We don't need this reform: but the euSSR requires it. How can anyone doubt that all forms of opposition to them - real or potential - must be eradicated? Even if the Upper House is no more than a thorn in the status of the Lower, the power of veto can cause inconvenient delays for our Masters.

So... as the present shower hang in there, doing as much damage to us as they can by reforming eberything, including their own reforms - I await only the eradication of elections. Who are the British People, to imagine that they have the ability to choose among their betters, or indeed that they should have any rights at all?

12 July 2009 at 19:09  
Anonymous not a mouse said...

Further to the above: - that was, of course 'everything.'

The Freedom of the Blogs must be a bit irritating, as well. Clearly the Power Pundits are not quite ready to shut the networks down - a la Korea, or China. Anyway, the medium has its uses; for example, preserving a false impression that the Lower Orders retain some right to express opinions. That can serve as a vent to defuse restlessness, for one thing.

12 July 2009 at 19:32  
Blogger Arden Forester said...

John Doe epitomises the very reason why the Lords Spritual should stay in the House of Lords. Invective and bile like his could well be the staple fare of a revised and reformed House under the frightful ideas that pass for New Labour ideology.

I think it is high time there was a support system launched by ordinary folk in defence of their lordships. I really do not want any more of what passes for democracy with this self-serving secular bunch of deviants that New Labour has created.

Heaven help us all. They were "elected" on 20% of the total electorate's support. And they deign to "govern". What a life!

12 July 2009 at 19:33  
Anonymous Preacher said...

Your Grace.
I'm not in the least surprised by the efforts of Brown & co to gag the voice of the Lords, granted the Bishops do not have a good track record but the Lords have been instrumental in the past in blocking some of the more radical & controversial laws & changes that these puffed up, conceited con men would have foisted upon us & thus are subject to the wrath of Gord. Even allowing for the lack of evangelical fire in the Upper House, half a loaf is still better than no bread.

12 July 2009 at 20:06  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

Rendering the bishops impotent is yet another nail in the coffin of Christianity in this country.
Their views, opinions and contributions are as much needed as the rest and so should not be gagged or manoeuvred out. I put this down to the evil influence of Mr poison himself Peter Mandleson as much as anything. This useless, spiteful, self serving government is so hung up on appeasing any other faith bar our own they have even got Jihadi’s working in the civil service!!!

A far better legacy for McBroom would be if he stood up and got our soldiers out of Afghanistan.

12 July 2009 at 20:59  
Anonymous indigomyth said...

Arden Forester said,
//John Doe epitomises the very reason why the Lords Spritual should stay in the House of Lords. Invective and bile like his could well be the staple fare of a revised and reformed House under the frightful ideas that pass for New Labour ideology.//

Why is that? John Doe is an ardent Christian, so how can his "bile and invective" be the responsibility of New Labour, or the "secular bunch of deviants"?

Surely John Doe's bile and invective, motivated by his religious convictions, are evidence of why we need to remove the Lords Spiritual? It seems rather odd that you blame a Christians invective and bile on the very people that want to remove his invective and bile from civilised society. Could you explain please?

12 July 2009 at 21:16  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We need an upper house that is totally unelected and/or appointed so it can do its job of holding up to scrutiny the legislation of the lower house. Also, if the incoming government is not labour, they need to repeal everything that this apology of a government has passed and start again

12 July 2009 at 22:47  
Anonymous Adrian P said...

Further undermining of Britain / England.
Come on Queenie, make that Call, tell the Generals to kick the door in, let's at leasst go down fighting the EUSSR while we have a chance.
It'll be fun there is sod all on the TV nowadays anyway.

12 July 2009 at 23:07  
Blogger Wyrdtimes said...

"In an age of devolution, what constitutional, legal or moral right does a Scot have to tamper with the customs and laws and of England?"

lol now England matters eh? Now it's close to home.

Where are the CofE on the lack of recognition and representation for England? Or on the Barnett Formula and its implications? Or on the railroading of England into the EU without a proper referendum.


Time and time again the CofE have failed the English people.

But it's not too late. The CofE can still call for an English Parliament the way the Church of Scotland called for a Scottish Parliament.

Speak for the powerless people of England - our elected representatives have forgotten us completely.

12 July 2009 at 23:40  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What purpose does it serve, bashing the Bishops?

12 July 2009 at 23:54  
Anonymous John Knox said...

Could this be a sad judgement of God on the lack of Biblical and British performance of the bishops?
They seem to have been rather lousy in terms of Bible, Christianity and cultural heritage.
Unfortunately Brown's anti-christian actions will cause Englang to have even less of this.
He doesn't further the cause of Presbyterianism or even Christianity. It is just "read my lips, but don't look at my actions"-Blair continued.

13 July 2009 at 00:46  
Anonymous Laird said...

Let the true church of Jesus Christ speak out.
Which church is the true church of Jesus Christ?I believe that is the position the RC church adopts.

13 July 2009 at 04:55  
Blogger Gnostic said...

I see that Archbishop Beardy has been agonising over having too many bishops. Brown has spoken and the C of E must obey. How craven is that?

Maybe the cull should begin at Lambeth Palace?

13 July 2009 at 08:08  
Anonymous Laird said...

Gnostic.Agreed. We need an Archbishop with strong traditional
Christian beliefs who does not succumb to political pressure.The position of Archbishop is not supposed to be the ultimate career achievement in the clergy. It is a priveledged position of leadership to demonstrate strength and guidance of the shepherd for his flock and to uphold Christian values in face of the secular onslaught.

13 July 2009 at 08:42  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Brown wants to remove the power of the Lords Spiritual in yet another unprecedented Nu-Fascist attack on Christianity. In another move he's decided that incitement to religious hatred is no longer an arrestable offence - if you're a Muslim.

I call bullsh*t on that!!!

13 July 2009 at 08:59  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

Two things seem to be getting conflated here.

That a substantial minority - if not a small majority - of the current Lord's Spiritual are irrelevant, liberal, theologically unsound buffoons is not really in question.

However, that is not justification for removing the incredible privilege that has been granted to the Church to have it's voice heard in the nations politics, and to be involved in the process of holding our government to account.

It is the CofE that needs reform so that such embarrassing, useless tossers do not become elevated to such important positions.

I think we will rue the day when we throw away the right to be have the gospel point of view in the forming of the nations legislation.

13 July 2009 at 10:16  
Blogger John Doe said...

Invective and bile are sadly two of my disturbing qualities, there seems to be no effective medication though.

So what you are suggesting is that we would be in a bigger awful bloody mess than we are in now without these Bishops, who have so far held back the forces of Satan? (even though it doesn't really feel as though they have done much of anything, when one stops to take stock of things).

My own belief is that they are self serving, meaning that they are more interested in preserving a private club. They get to decide and they represent the rest of us, whether we like it or not. They need to be removed so that their unhelpful and self serving agenda no longer acts as a barrier for Christian progress.

13 July 2009 at 10:46  
Blogger Preacher said...

A Druid as Archbishop of Canterbury, the top prelate of the CofE? The early saints must be spinning like tops. How does this slip by without challenge? No wonder we have problems with weak representation in the Lords. He's probably a nice man, likes kids & animals but so in all likelihood was Simon the sorcerer. Judgement must start with the house of God. Pray it's not too late.

13 July 2009 at 12:04  
Anonymous len said...

The true church of Jesus Christ is the ekklesia, born again, Holy Spirit filled believers whose ONLY authority is the living word of God.

13 July 2009 at 23:12  
Blogger Lord Lavendon said...

Your Grace does not mention, but hints at, the logical conclusion of Brown's plan and that is the disestablishment of the Church of England.

Without wanting to repeat the many arguments for and against, there is a cynical reason why the government might push for this:

The Church of England at a national level (Church Commissioners) hold some £4 billion worth of assets; this does not take into account the assets of each diocese or the assets of each Parish or the asset of the land upon which many Churches are built upon (how much is the land of St Paul’s Cathedral worth, if it were demolished to make way for , say ,property development ?). So the real amount of assets would be a lot higher than £4 billion, all ready for the government to seize.

Given the state of the public finances, does his Grace fear that the current attacks upon the Church of England are leading to a slippery slope which will end in Whitehall doing to the current Church of England what Henry VIII did to the Monasteries?

I appreciated that £4 billion plus is a drop in the ocean viz a £671 billion budget, , but this did not stop them from making symbolic attacks e.g. 50% income tax on wealth generators , who are simply upping sticks and going to Switzerland .

13 July 2009 at 23:56  
Blogger Brad said...

Anglicanism is disestablished in every other country in which it exists. It has had no effect on those churches.
Sweden disestablished its church in 2000-nearly 1/4th of the population didn't even notice.

Why does England need to be the only other country besides Iran in which clergy sit, by right, in the legislature?
Nearly 365 years after an Englishman, Roger Williams, separated church and state, why is this even an issue in a country that claims to be tolerant and modern?

14 July 2009 at 01:30  
Blogger Dave J said...

"In the US there are 2 senators for each state in the union, and half of them are elected every two years."

Um, a third of them are elected every two years. That's how one staggers six-year terms.

17 July 2009 at 02:55  

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