'Oh, so that's who Richard Morris is..." Lord Hattersley on The Daily Politics

'An influential activist' - The Guardian

'Iain Dale, without the self loathing' - Matthew Fox in The New Statesman

You are a tinker...' - Tim Farron

Thursday 10 May 2012

The Lords: How the Tories will fight us...

Thanks to the wondrous Helen Duffett I had the treat of appearing on Five News on Tuesday evening where i got to debate Lords Reform with Peter Bone MP. And what fun it was. And while I don't agree with a word that man says, its only fair to say that he was a courteous and good natured opponent.

What the debate did illustrate was some of the attack lines Tory opponents of Lords Reform are going to deploy - because he deployed them. So here a a few of them  - and my replies....

1. (The classic): 'The economy is what matters, we should be concentrating on this and nothing else'

Of course you're right - reducing the deficit is the governments priority above everything else, and the coalition document makes that clear. But governments are capable of doing more than one thing at a time - and no one honestly claim that our democratic institutions are working perfectly and with the full support of the people currently. Quite the opposite. 

2. This is a Lib Dem policy and no one else in the country wants it

Lords Reform is a Lib Dem policy. But it was also in the manifestos of the Tories, Labour, The Greens - and yes, even UKIP (this gave Peter a moments thought!). In fact 95% of people who voted in the last general election voted for a party who supported it. And the other 5% were mainly nationalist party's with a different constitutional fish to fry (for example the SNP support reform - but want Independence from Westminster rather more!).

It is not a Lib Dem policy. It is a universal policy. Which incidentally means it should have universal support between the parties...

3. Why should a party polling the same as UKIP have any sort of policy initiative?

In the local elections last week we got around 15% of the vote - UKIP got 5-6%. So that's just not true.

And also irrelevant - it's the last general election that counts.

But it's also an odd argument for a Tory to make - because essentially it's saying your influence should be directly linked to the size of your support - which sounds like an argument for proportional representation to me...

4. It's an unnescary reform - the system isn't broken.

Isn't it? In the local elections here turnout was around 30%. In the French Presidential Election, turn out was 80%+. I'd say there was a problem with our system - and it needs fixing. We people to be re engaged with politics - and Lords Reform is a small step in that direction


  1. Unfortunately it isn't just the Tories who are forming an opposition to Lords reform. Some Liberal Democrats , notably Lord Steel, are also publicly undermining long held party policy by deploying the argument you list as number 1. This is a dishonest argument since there in no conflict betweem Lords reform and econonomic recovery although the opponents of reform are clearly prepared to do their best to make it so. Our Leader should make it clear that no one who opposes the reform can expect to be nominated as a Liberal Democrat in a reformed House of Lords or indeed anywhere else.

    Unfortunately statements from our leader suggest that he is preparing to give up before the fight even begins. Government ministers are sending signals to opponents of reform inviting them to make a fuss over the issue that will provide the government with the excuse to back down.
    The leadership of our party in the coalition government has been disastrous. If we fail on this reform then people will question the point of the Liberal Democrats . If Nick Clegg is not up to the job then we should look for a new leader before the party sinks into irelevance

  2. Yes, Lord Steel appears to be a, er, steely opponent of reform (he is on the record a number of times on this subject).

    But I guess its up to folks like us to keep the pressure on to make sure this dosn't get dropped from the agenda.