Those naughty Lordies

sleeping lords

Dave is busy stacking the Lords, one wonders if it was because the Lords struck back in late 2014:

Commenting, Lord Harrison, Chair of the Committee, said:

“This Committee has repeatedly stressed that the EU budget process is at breaking point. The on-off negotiations over recent weeks demonstrate once more that root and branch reform of the process is urgently needed. We want to get to the bottom of the negotiating process in which it appeared that the UK and other Member States abandoned their efforts to curb EU spending for 2015, and approved a deal which it had resisted only a few days earlier.

We also fear that the Government continues to underestimate the serious implications of the tidal wave of money still owed in relation to the EU Budget created by the gap between commitments and payments. This Committee is dedicated to examining the fine detail of this deal and to hold the UK Government to account for its actions. To that end we have invited the Minister to appear before us in January to explain recent events and what efforts he will make to support our call for reform.”

Dave would not like the EU issue to get out. Meanwhile, a glance at the Lords who have been tried and punished reveals some interesting things. Firstly, the last one was in 1935. Have there been no naughty Lords since then?

Until Lord Coke?

Also, quite amusing were two peers who actually escaped:

William Maxwell, 5th Earl of Nithsdale

Nithsdale was captured at Preston together with other Jacobite leaders, found guilty of treason, and sentenced to death. The night before the day appointed for his execution (24 February 1716), he effected an escape from the Tower of London meticulously planned by his daring and devoted Countess, who had been admitted to his room. By exchanging clothes with his wife’s maid, he escaped the attention of his guards. He fled to Rome, where he lived with his wife until his death.

More exciting was:

George Seton, 5th Earl of Winton

His sentence was such a foregone conclusion that he laughed in the face of the Lord High Steward, who presided – Sir William, (afterward Earl) Cowper, telling him: “I hope you will do me justice, and do not make use of Coupar-law, as we used to say in our country. ‘Hang a man first and then try him.'” He was punning on the name of Cowper, which was pronounced Cooper the same as Cupar, the Fife town, which was also sometimes written Cowper.

To understand this joke, one must know the old cross of MacDuff, in Fife, was a famous sanctuary and that those “claiming the privilege of the Law of Clan MacDuff were required to appear afterwards before judges assembled at Cowper in Fife.”; but by a sort of anticipatory Lynch Law, the criminal or suspected criminal who had run to the Cross did not always (after leaving the sanctuary) live to reach Cupar and have a fair trial; he was hanged before he got there.

Lord Winton’s character was very original, and he was calumniated by enemies and misunderstood by friends, as though his plea and defence, so peculiar to himself, were signs of an unbalanced mind. Sir Walter Scott refutes these insinuations: “But, if we judge from his conduct in the rebellion, Lord Winton appears to have displayed more sense and prudence than most of those engaged in that unfortunate affair.”

While lying in the Tower under sentence, a trusty servant managed to furnish him with a file or other small instrument (some say it was only a watch-spring)[dubious – discuss], with which he contrived to cut through the window bars in his cell and escaped. This was on Saturday, 4 August 1716, about 9 o’clock at night. The earl got safe to France, and ultimately made his way to Rome.

I should hope I’d display similar equanimity at my trial and sentencing.

5 comments for “Those naughty Lordies

  1. July 30, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    Ah, James, have you not forgotten the triumphs which Cameron claimed? Where he had vetoed a Treaty, and single-handedly stopped the Budget from blossoming beyond control? Don’t know what the Noble Lords are worrying about. Everyone knows that we are outvoted every time by means of QMV, a process which, sadly, we brought upon ourselves.

    Strange how the mists of time cover those headlines so quickly.

  2. john in cheshire
    July 30, 2015 at 4:12 pm

    James I did wonder how long those in government have known about Mr Sewel’s proclivities and whether perhaps they had been saving it for the right moment to release it into the public domain.

  3. Voice of Reason
    July 31, 2015 at 1:43 am

    I wonder whatever happened to Lord Lucan?

    • July 31, 2015 at 11:44 am

      I’ve often wondered, VofR. How old would he be now?

      • Voice of Reason
        August 7, 2015 at 10:36 am

        My guess is 80+

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