Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Day Of The Lords

Hmmm, House Of Lord’s reforms. Dunno about you but I am kind of torn over this subject.

The Eric & Ernie of British Politic's
On the one hand, it’s yet another U-turn for a government that makes U-Turns into an Olympic standard manoeuvre.  At the last Westminster Elections, all of the English based parties said that they would enact some sort of reform on the UK’s “Second” Chamber.  Quelle Surprise that the first party to turn against Lords reform are the establishment party.  Clegg has a point in being angry at being stiffed over both voting and Lord’s reform.

And yet, in a sense I’m happy that these particular proposals have failed.  Elected representatives only elected for one 15 year term does not strike me as being particularly democratic. Like the voting reform proposals (that floundered in a referendum last year) and rather like the way the current debate over Scottish separation/independence is going, the watering down of radical proposals has done more harm than good to those looking for reform.  Yes, the House of Lord’s is a fusty anachronistic reminder of the privilege and class that still run’s this country – but there needs to be a well thought out alternative.  Something Clegg and co singularly failed to do

One consequence of this is the first real cracks in the coalition relationship between Clegg & Cameron.  Clegg feels as if he has been sold out by Cameron’s inability to control his back benchers.  Cameron probably feels as if Clegg is just picking fights to look good, he probably has a point.

The Lib Dem experience of Coalition was the 8 years in the “Scottish Executive”, where they got the credit for free care for the elderly among other policies while “Scottish” Labour got brickbats for their performances, and for agreeing to STV in local authority elections.  If the Lib Dem’s thought that they would be immune from the poison from the Tories thanks to that experience, they were wrong.

Yet the Lib Dem’s response, to withdraw from backing the policy for an equalisation of constituency sizes will undoubtedly harm the Conservatives.  Constituency equalisation would have helped the Conservatives in their attempt to win their first majority at Westminster since 1992 – every election since 1987 has seen an electoral imbalance towards Labour voters.  The reaction to this in both parties will be interesting and will also be key in determining whether the velvet divorce mooted for 2014 will be more acrimonious and occur sooner.  Whatever happens, this is a relationship that is on the rocks with a key cabinet re-shuffle on the horizon.

1 comment:

Stuart Winton said...

Well indeed the HoL was one of those things that I used to get worked up about, a la Billy Bragg.

But now I've got so little faith in the elected polticians that the HoL debate seems something of an irrelevance.

Indeed to the extent that I don't trust the elected politicians then some of the arguments often mooted for retaining the current Lords set-up actually seem quite attractive.

Good argument otherwise though.