Ah, what makes The Lords? Should a pimp and a bawd
Decide on the worthies to furnish its horde?
Or should an elector determine its function?
Or should a back-hander, with sweet-smelling unction,
Replace the great chaos of birth and appointment?
That is the choice: between ballot and ointment.
The smooth and the wrinkled, the mean and the fair –
Just how should the country decide who is there?
Are they there to revise, to amend, to suggest,
Or to pose for the cameras, expensively dressed?
The faceless, the placemen, the great and the good,
And the ministers sent there, as dead as old wood –
It seems hard to decide. Cromwell abolished them.
More recent régimes have pampered and polished them.
The dandy, the grandee, the rich man, the pauper,
Those who reduce any audience to torpor,
The lickspittle tittlers, the prandial prattlers,
The generals at home with a battle or atlas,
The bishops who rest on their laurels and quarrels,
The philosophers mixed up with ethics and morals,
The brainy, the brilliant, the sage and the onions,
The specialists, whether in baksheesh or bunions –
The gallant, or those with the sex or the talents.
Or, probably, those there for cheques and for balance.