11 July 2012

The Lords Reform Dilemma

I'm genuinely torn on what Labour should do about Lords Reform. Here is an issue that should have been sorted long ago.

Knowing that elected governance is a given if you believe in democracy, the best that opponents of reform can do is argue that 'now is not the time' and that after a 100 years of waiting, we should all wait a little longer.

Despite being in their manifestoes since 2001, it is increasingly clear that the Tories never want reform. Labour equally have a large number of MPs happy with their future retirement home. Lords reform was always going to be a tough nut to crack.

So this is a clear opportunity that may not come along for a long long time.

Yet, I have sympathy with Ed Milibands position. By blocking the programme motion, opponents can and will 'talk out' the bill, the chance for reform in this parliament and probably the next will be lost once again. But equally if by doing this Labour hold up a whole host of right wing coalition bills and encourage the Lib Dems to block the undemocratic boundary changes who can blame Ed?

Without Lords Reform and after the underhand tactics of Tories in the AV referendum, the Lib Dems will have no legacy to their time in government, nothing to show their supporters except supporting an ideological cull of welfare and public services that has not even eliminated the deficit. Lib Dem members didn't join to see poverty doubled and no progress on the constitutional stitch up.

Lib Dems can't blame Labour if Cameron cannot deliver his side of the bargain, they have to be direct and stop the boundary stitch up in retaluation. The problem is Labour think losing Lords reform is worth it to block boundary changes.

However losing a PR elected Lords is a big loss. Tories rightly fear that voters will get to like the fact that PR gives them more choice as parties other than the big two can get elected in large numbers. How long before people start asking for PR for the Commons?

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