BASHING THE BISHOP: The Upper House is becoming a Crowded House, after being stuffed with ardent Brexiters and members of Boris Johnson’s family. There was so little space that Bishop John Sentamu was denied the traditional life peerage awarded to a retired Archbishop. The reason given was that a Bishop requires space to move diagonally.
This conveniently ignores the fact that the House of Lords is full of Knights, each of whom can only move two steps forward and one sideways at a time. There is also a contingent of old Queens, who can mince in any direction they choose.
The government hastily cobbled together a press release, to head off charges of racism and cronyism. It stated: “Bishop Sentamu will have to be patient until the chequerboard black and white tiled flooring is complete.”
It’s hard to tell whether this makes matters better or worse.
Campaigners are trying to make Bishop Sentamu a pawn in a much bigger game. This is blatant racism, they say, and in making the Lords a practically all-white chamber they only succeed in blackening its name.
There are few shades of grey here. This is a black-and-white issue. Tradition has been broken, as with former Speaker John Bercow. In both cases, men of integrity have been denied a traditional privilege. There is a common thread here: both men are named John.
Johnson good, John bad. Little brother Jo Johnson is secure, rubbing shoulders with other non-entities whose former seat on the backbenches was always going to be the peak of their career.
After all, you don’t hear too many cries of “Johnson out!” Unless you happen to be Jennifer Arcuri, on the receiving end of avalanches of passion, and hearing Bonking Boris’ traditional mating cry.
So the Bishop will have to wait. The whole affair looks like ending in a stalemate.