You are sending a link to...
Remember the abseiling lesbians?
I'd forgotten about them, so it is good to see them get a mention in this splendid Telegraph piece about that anachronistic but admirable institution the House of Lords, now under threat from meddlers:
It was the great constitutionalist Walter Bagehot who declared: "The cure for admiring the House of Lords is to go and look at it." So what cure would Bagehot propose for the House of Commons today? By voting for an all-elected Upper House, MPs have delivered the biggest upset to their Lordships since three butch lesbians abseiled into the chamber to protest against Section 28.
With its Woolsack, medalled and white-tied flunkies, elaborate debating courtesies such as "my noble kinsman" and "the right reverend prelate", the Upper House is straight from a period drama. It is, therefore, easy to lampoon as is a privileged club where ancient grandees can sleep off their long lunches, dreaming of the days when they were genuine political players. But it is just as easy to mock the Commons which, apart from the juvenile Prime Minister's Questions, is virtually empty for the rest of the week.
There is much to thank their Lordships for. They cherish rhetorical flair along with substance. Lord Shackleton began one speech by saying: "When I was living in an igloo at the South Pole." There are experts on everything. Even prison reform - not least because one of their number has been inside.
Yes, it is an anachronism. I recall the story of the late Earl of Arran being asked why the House was packed for a debate on homosexual reform, but was almost empty during a debate on protecting badgers. The Earl replied: "My dear sir, there are no badgers in the House of Lords.' And Macmillan said: "If, like me, you are over 90, frail, on two sticks, half-dead and half-blind, you stick out like a sore thumb in most places, but not in the House of Lords. Besides, they seem to have a bar and a loo within 30 yards in any direction.'
So it has to change: the remaining hereditaries must depart. But, as anachronisms go, it is rather a good one. Since 1999, when the majority of the hereditaries were given their marching orders, the Lords have inflicted 350 defeats on the Government. Who else can stop this Government trampling over our civil liberties?