Two lodges for Freemason MPs and political journalists are continuing to operate secretly at Westminster, it has been revealed. The ‘brotherhood’ is said to be so covert most lobby reporters are unaware of its existence.
According to the Guardian, the Chambers are still home to the New Welcome Lodge, which recruits MPs, peers and parliamentary staff, and the Gallery Lodge, reserved for the political press corps. Freemasonry records reveal that a third lodge called the Alfred Robbins Lodge, also for journalists, carries on gathering in London on a regular basis.
While the identities of members are unknown to anyone outside the organization, David Staples, the chief executive of the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE), the governing body for Freemasons in England and Wales, rejected claims that politicians and journalists who are masons might have divided loyalties.
“Contrary to populist perception, being a Freemason helps those members in roles serving society in the broader sense, including journalists, politicians, policemen and lawyers, to be better in those jobs by encouraging them to act as better people themselves.
“Their membership is a positive for both them as individuals, and for society at large,” Staples said.
The newspaper reported that many Labour MPs left the Freemasons in the 1980s for fear they would lose their seats when questioned about their allegiance to the highly-secretive circle when reapplying for Labour membership between general elections. Declaring one’s membership was compulsory at the start of the decade.
It is understood at least one Labour MP withdrew from the New Welcome Lodge recently, and asked for his membership to be temporarily suspended so he could rejoin once certain he had secured his parliamentary seat.
The New Welcome Lodge is understood to have between 30 and 40 members, of whom only four are MPs and none are peers. The Gallery Lodge is reported to have 18.
A spokesman for the UGLE said: “None of the members who have joined either of these two lodges since 2000 have their occupation recorded as journalist or anything obviously linked to the newspaper industry.”
Freemasonry can be viewed as an international organization with an estimated 200,000 members worldwide. It is the oldest and largest non-political organization in the world, whose members call each other ‘brothers’ or ‘brethren.’ Sometimes confused or conflated with the Illuminati, Freemasons comprise a society that believes the universe has an architect, though Freemasonry is not considered a religion nor its lodges places of worship. It has been criticized for its secrecy and accused of serving the interests of its members over the those of the public.