His opposition to new Labour was absolute and unforgiving. Though he refused to defend the hereditary right of the Lords – “I can’t get up and assert that hereditary peers are legitimate and I’m not going to” – he believed that the House of Lords system worked more often than not to temper the excesses of Parliament. When Tony Blair proposed that peers should give up their speaking privileges in return for lunching and dining rights in the House, Russell was withering. “He is literally asking us to sell our birthright for a mess of pottage,” he said. “This does no more than confirm me in my opinion that he is a smooth man. Were he to ask me to sell my birthright for a House of Commons elected by a voting system that makes it truly representative of the people, he might get a different answer.”
One of the Virtual Stoa’s favourite Liberal Democrats.