Another Peculiarity of British Politics

An American friend who favours abolishing the UK House of Lords suggested a blistering public awareness campaign revealing that “It’s archaic, filled with eccentrics, and brimming with peculiar rituals and quaint customs”. He was disappointed to learn that such a message would be taken as a ringing endorsement of the institution by most British people.

Among the cherished and likely everlasting peculiarities of British politics is that Members of Parliament are not allowed to resign. What to do then when someone, for example Louise Mensch, wants to quit mid-term?

No worries. Flip open your law book to the three centuries old Act of Settlement and the solution is as plain as pikestaff. A member of parliament may not accept a remunerative office from The Sovereign. One therefore need only appoint the MP to some obscure sinecure, which effects removal from parliamentary office.

Congratulations therefore to Ms. Mensch, the new Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead.

Here by the way is a charming 1949 postcard photo of Peasholm Lake in Yorkshire, underneath which the Manor of Northstead is believed to be buried.

Author: Keith Humphreys

Keith Humphreys is the Esther Ting Memorial Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University and an Honorary Professor of Psychiatry at Kings College London. His research, teaching and writing have focused on addictive disorders, self-help organizations (e.g., breast cancer support groups, Alcoholics Anonymous), evaluation research methods, and public policy related to health care, mental illness, veterans, drugs, crime and correctional systems. Professor Humphreys' over 300 scholarly articles, monographs and books have been cited over thirteen thousand times by scientific colleagues. He is a regular contributor to Washington Post and has also written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Monthly, San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian (UK), The Telegraph (UK), Times Higher Education (UK), Crossbow (UK) and other media outlets.

9 thoughts on “Another Peculiarity of British Politics”

  1. Isn’t the traditional appointment in these cases to Steward of the Chiltern Hundred?

  2. Why is your American friend focused on the House of Lords when he could just as well be describing the US Senate?

      1. Such terminology is confusing, since “tenther” is used to describe proponents of a more vigorous (as they if not others might describe) interpretation of the tenth amendment. Should an advocate of re-enacting prohibition be called an Eighteenther or a Twenty-firster?

  3. The American consul posted to the Manor of Northstead is, if I am not mistaken, Jimmy Hoffa.

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