So, Tony Benn’s son has indeed taken up the title, as I mused some time ago that he might. Of course, that doesn’t mean he’s in the House of Lords. The system there is a little tricky.
Some here will know all of this but for those who don’t it’s an interesting little look at how the English/British system is a never ending series of kludges and temporary expedients.
So, back in the late 90s, Blair et al decided to get rid of the hereditaries from the Lords. Better to have an all appointed House they thought, perhaps along the lines of the Canadian Senate (?). That most of the hereditaries would, on the very few occasions they showed up, vote Tory had nothing to do with it of course.
Frantic rearguard action by one of the Cecil family (who have been in the Lords under various titles, and at times more than one of them, for many centuries now) led to most of the hereditaries being dismissed from the House, but 92 remained. These were selected by election among the hereditaries, the hereditaries themselves being both the electorate and the candidates.
But it goes further. Those who would enter the House now have to wait until someone dies and there is thus a space available in that 92. Then the hereditaries who are still in the House (I think that’s right) get to vote on which hereditary not in the House will fill that vacant seat. But that electorate is split along party lines. So, if a Tory peer dies, then it is the Tory peers who vote on which Tory will take the seat. That’s also true of the Crossbench and Labour, and should probably be true of LibDems and UKIP (the Greens have no hereditaries).
So, when Matt Ridley recently stood it was because some Tory had popped his clogs, he stood as a Tory and it was the hereditaries taking the Tory whip who voted. I’m pretty sure that’s what the system is, that’s the way it was explained to me at least.
Very much dead man’s clogs. Which gives us the Viscount Stansgate:
At least the new Viscount Stansgate can’t actually sit in the Lords now that hereditary peers are banned. That’s where you’re wrong. Ninety-two hereditaries are still allowed to sit in the Lords. Benn hopes to represent Labour.
Are there a lot of Labour hereditary peers? Four, at the last count.
He’ll face an electorate of three.
Which is, of course, three more than most other members of the House face at any time in their lives.