Monday, 9 July 2012

Lords reform; divides, threats and consequences

Clegg's Vision for Lords reform must go through
Over the next two days the House of Lords reform proposals, developed by the Cabinet Office and championed by Nick Clegg will be put before the Commons and already there are serious problems.

Not only are there due to be 70 odd Conservative MPs rebelling against the Government line of support but there is also 20 LIBDEM lords who are against the moves as well.

This could ultimately scupper the bill in the Commons and even beyond should the Peers gain more support for the campaign.

If that was not enough there is also the threat hanging over the Coalition of the Libdems not backing Boundary reform. Around 70 Conservative MPs have written an open letter to party Colleagues calling on them not to vote for bill. They argue over the semantics that the Coalition Agreement only says it will look into the Lords Reform and that they have looked - it says nothing about enacting them. According to the BBC at the time of writing, the rebels only need 40 MPs to scupper the whole thing. It is looking bleak for Clegg.

It has also been suggested, and I don't take much stock in this as it was only a summation by a BBC journalist, the Conservative Whips are making a big show of doing something but may actually not doing anything to get MPs to back the Bill.

There has been a mention of retaliation by the Libdems for failure for of the Conservatives to keep their end of the bargain. Richard Reeves, Nick Clegg's former special adviser said in an exclusive with Friday's I that;

It is a a very serious moment for the Government, the vote is hugely significant. It is the critical moment for Lords reform, a once-in-a-generation chance to secure it.

There would be broader consequences for the Government's programme, particularly around political and parliamentary reform. The idea that failure to deliver a government program on Lords reform would be consequence free is for the birds.

He went on to suggest that should they would either not back Boundary reform or should the reform be delayed so that it won't come into effect in 2015 then they will also move that Boundary reforms will not be applicable in 2015.


Well, on rough figures, and I'm sure many opposition Politicos will disagree, the Conservatives would gain 20 extra MPs with the modification of the electoral boundaries. Locally it would mean that Mark Reckless (Rochester & Strood) was a lot safer, Tracey Crouch (Chatham & Aylesford) would be a lot safer having lost the Labour marginal ward of Luton & Wayfield and gaining Conservative Hempstead & Wigmore but Rehman Chishti (Gillingham & Rainham) would be on dicier ground having gained Luton & Wayfield.

Why is Lord's reform so important to the Libdems? Well as Lando Calrissian said in Return of the Jedi;
We won't get another shot at this Admiral.

It has been a Liberal aim for other a century and the party want to make the Lords more accountable to the people and electable - thus accountable. It was one of the key points of the Coalition Agreement that we got this chance but it looks dead before its got off the ground for innumerate reasons including whether it is more accountable, its messing with tradition, its the wrong time, they didn't back Jeremy Hunt...

However should it die I would suggest one of two options.

1. End the Coalition. Yep, that's what I said. Not in a selfish We're not getting our way style but if it is going to break up into tit for tat repercussions then the Clegg/Cameron Marriage has turned into one of those bitter divorces where you stay together for the kids (deficit) and no one will benefit from it so you might as well call it a day now.

2. Notch it up to experience, say We tried and blame the Conservatives come election time and hope that the next century flies by...

The angry Libdem within me is really tempted by 1: but I know the serious one thinks 2: is the only option. After all, paying off the deficit is as Nick once said;
What we have to do, before we can do what we want to do.

This is an issue I don't believe should be kicked into the long grass and should not definitely not become the target of tit-for-tat revenge style politics. More Democracy and greater Freedoms is what its all about isn't it?

I would urge (almost beg) any Conservative MPs to please - look at the merits, think of the good and democracy that is being proposed and vote with the Government. If you don't agree with it that's OK too, just please vote No for the right reasons and not for a dislike of Clegg, us, or to cause trouble only vote No because you disagree with it.

I don't want to sound all dramatic but I think the future of the Coalition and indeed the nature that it conducts its business is in the balance and will be decided by 10pm tomorrow and I really think we could be entering a new era.

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