A Peerage for Farage?

Don’t collapse with laughter or throw something at your screen.This is a controversial but intriguing  suggestion from Mary Dejevsky in the i paper. Having stated her dislike for the honours system and the problems with the house of lords:

For the time being, though  we have the system we have, and given that reform is not in the offing, the upper house should be made as representative as possible. To that end, I believe the answer to the question Theresa May ducked is this: Nigel Farage should be elevated to the peerage – and he, for his part, should abandon his outdated pose as a maverick and accept it.

There are self-interested reasons why May would be well-advised to recommend Farage for a peerage. One might be called the “Boris defence”: a Baron Farage safely quaffing his pints in a parliamentary bar might be less of a danger to the public order than a compulsive fomenter of discontent at large.

More obvious would be the bone such a gesture would throw to Conservative Brexiteers. They are already showing signs of impatience about how long it is taking May and her ministers to get around to invoking Article 50. A supreme court judgement that upheld this month’s high court ruling and required a vote by MPs would only rile them further.

There are pantomime reasons, too, why the house of lords is where Nigel Farage now belongs. He is a true character. He would certainly look and sound the part. But there are also serious reasons. It would be compensation of  kind for the enormous flaws in our country’s democracy. UKIP under Nigel Farage’s leadership woman more than 4m votes at the last election, but the combination of our first-past-the-post system and the number of safe constituencies left his party with jsut one MP- and a former Conservative one at that.

This is partly why the referendum result came as such a shock: our electoral system had contrived to filter out parties disruptive to the status quo. The referendum gave those thus silenced a voice.

Most of all, though, we should consider the change that Nigel Farage has wrought. Without him and his campaigning, it can be argued, there would have been no referendum, and even if there had, no victory. He articulated the arguments against UK membership of the European Union, and what he said and how he said it chimed with a significant section of the voting public. You can agree or disagree with his arguments about sovereignty and the nature of Britain -… But he is a politician of stature who submitted himself to the democratic system, and by force of persuasion prevailed.

At the very least, it might keep him out of trouble.But then a gong will give him legitimacy that would make it hard for opponents to mock.

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