British Politics

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 234–247 | Cite as

Understanding the opposition of peers to an elected House of Lords through Hirschman’s Rhetoric of Reaction

  • Richard ReidEmail author
Forward Thinking


There is yet to be a comprehensive and systematic study of the views of peers on reform of the House of Lords. This article provides the first such study based on a powerful dataset of interviews with 77 peers during the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition government. Albert Hirschman’s typology of reactionary rhetoric is applied to the key themes emerging from the interviews. This article demonstrates that the opposition of peers can be understood as being based on the arguments of perversity, futility and jeopardy. In addition, an important strand of opposition to reform can be characterised as temporality. A systematic understanding of the views of those peers who oppose reform could potentially enable the formulation of more successful proposals for wholesale change than those set out by the Coalition.


House of Lords Legislative reform Hirschman Rhetoric of Reaction 


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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Governance and Policy AnalysisUniversity of CanberraBruceAustralia

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