Baroness Stowell of Beeston writes about her first few months as a Conservative peer. Before joining the Lords, in January, Tina was Head of Corporate Affairs at the BBC and ran William Hague's office when he was leader of the Conservative Party.
‘Who’s the bloke in the tapestry smock?’ is a common question from friends looking at photographs of me with Garter-King-of-Arms taken on my day of introduction and it’s a great excuse for my skit on the discussion with Garter about titles. Did you know every peerage is distinct so the ones who are ‘of somewhere’ are not the first to carry the title of their surname? If you’re first, you don’t need to be of anywhere. That said, everyone is sort of ‘of somewhere’, but if you are of somewhere twice and the first ‘of somewhere’ is before the comma (and by the way, it’s not always the same place as the ‘of somewhere’ after the comma), that’s your title. Are you with me?! When the Clerk read out my full title in all its glory during my introduction ceremony he said: Baroness Stowell of Beeston, of Beeston in the County of Nottinghamshire. I told my Mum that the Clerk said ‘of Beeston’ twice because Beeston is like New York... I know, I know: enough already!
In 2009, after eight years away from front-line politics, I decided to put myself forward as a potential Parliamentary candidate because I wanted to be part of – what I saw as – the Conservative Party’s effort to reinforce, restore (and for some, reignite) people’s belief in the value of doing the right thing. Like many others, I worried, and still do, about people giving up because they can’t see much point going on and/or because they don’t know how to do it. I wanted to be part of a team helping everyone in our country to be ambitious for success and to aim high for themselves and for their family.
And as part of achieving this vision, I believe that all politicians, though I say this as a Conservative, need to make the political system we operate within work more effectively and demonstrably for the benefit of the public.
I didn’t get selected, never mind elected, but out of the blue one day last year I received an unexpected phone call. When the Prime Minister asked me to become a working peer I nearly asked him if he was sure, (as in, “me?”). But ever since that call what I am sure of is this: my motivation in the Lords is the same as what it would have been had I ever made it to the Commons. In fact, my motivation is even stronger because it is clear that the Conservative Party still has a lot to do to convince people we really understand what’s behind their concerns and that we are working in their interest, not our own.
So, that’s how I got to the House of Lords and what I hope to achieve, and now I’ve been here three months, Tim asked me to write a post about what life is like as a working peer.
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