The big news in eurosceptic circles is that two of the "defrocked" peers, Lord Pearson of Rannoch and Lord Willoughby de Broke, have joined UKIP. They have not precisely "defected" as the Daily Telegraph, managing to get things wrong again, put it. It was more a question of their party abandoning them.
Both noble peers are known for their outspoken views on many issues, particularly the European Union and its effects in this country. This blog has mentioned both of them from time to time and, no doubt, we shall go on writing about the questions and debates the two peers will initiate and participate in. I have it on good authority (one of the peers in question) that they intend to go on fighting in order to persuade the Conservative Party that the European question is, indeed, a very important one.
When the peers (together with two others, Baroness Cox and Lord Stevens of Ludgate) lost the whip, I wrote about the stupidity of the Tory leadership in letting people like that go.
Lord Pearson has worked long and hard for the Conservative Party, among other actions, raising a good deal of money and a party that is £35 million in the debt cannot afford to be sniffy about such matters. Before he was ennobled, Malcolm Pearson was well known in the ranks of those who fought Communism and he has continued to speak up in humanitarian matters, such as the fate of the Kalahari Bushmen.
About his colleague I wrote at the time:
Yet an even greater sign of the Conservative Party’s desperate fumbling on this issue is their withdrawal of the whip from Lord Willoughby de Broke, one of the hardest working and most active peers in the House, though he has never held a paid ministerial job. He is not as well known in the media as Lord Pearson, but he is as important in politics. Furthermore, he is a scion of an old and active Tory family.My colleague added in another posting when Lord Willoughby de Broke addressed a UKIP fringe meeting:
David Willoughby de Broke is no ordinary peer. He is the 21st Baron, heir to an unbroken line, which stretches back to 1491, son of a war hero and a Tory through and through. If you cut him in half and split his bones, he would have "Tory" etched through them like a stick of rock. He is the embodiment of the Tory establishment, and, despite that, a thoroughly nice and truly caring man. He even looks like a Tory.Actually, I believe, the line stretches back further but let that pass.
And it was this man, this High Tory, who carried the conviction. What he had hoped to hear from Mr Howard was that he would have wished to repatriate many more powers than just fishing, the Social Chapter and aid, and, if negotiations failed, then he would "consider all our options… including withdrawal", warning that his party was "dead meat" if it did not listen to public concern over greater European integration.
I have worked with both peers and hope to do so in the future (though this does not mean I am joining UKIP, having been purged from it once). They are both strong-minded and conscientious, campaigning for the issues they believe in, be that the EU, hunting, matters to do with agriculture or the situation in China, Tibet and Hong Kong. And, of course, they do not get paid for the work they do, merely given rather limited expenses, unlike the various MPs who do little but are convinced that they are underpaid.
The Conservative Party can ill afford to lose people like that and UKIP has done well to snap them up, despite the ill-natured and frankly ignorant sniggering that has gone up from some of the Conservative blogs. No wonder Nigel Farage is strutting.
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