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Tuesday, 10 July 2012

The Tory rebels will reap what they sow

On the BBC Newsnight programme last night Nadine Dorries (Con Bedfordshire Mid) claimed that "House of Lords reform is not in the Coalition Agreement. So Conservatives don't need to support it. Unsurprisingly as it was Nadine "70% fiction" Dorries this simply is not true Part 6 of the agreement does propose reform of the House of Lords, with a wholly or mainly elected chamber on the basis of proportional representation with single long terms. The text in full:
"We agree to establish a committee to bring forward proposals for a wholly or mainly elected upper chamber on the basis of proportional representation. The committee will come forward with a draft motions by December 2010. It is likely that this bill will advocate single long terms of office. It is also likely there will be a grandfathering system for current Peers. In the interim, Lords appointments will be made with the objective of creating a second chamber reflective of the share of the vote secured by the political parties in the last general election."
The text shows that Tory rebels saying, like Louise Mensch is, it should be a first past the post system and shouldn't be elected on proportional representation (PR) either haven't read the document they agreed too in May 2010 or are openly proving they can not be trusted to keep their word. The other main moan from rebels yesterday was over single 15 year periods. The coalition agreement did say "single long terms" so once again the rebels are showing either they didn't read the agreement they signed up to or once again they can't be trusted to keep their word.

The Labour party's position is actually quite ridiculous. They support House of Lords reform but not the programme motion to ensure it passes. When asked on numerous occasions yesterday how many days the Labour party thought it required Shadow Constitutional Affairs Minister Sadiq Khan (Lab Tooting) refused to say. Graham Allen (Lab Nottingham North) who is the chair of the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee intervened on Sadiq Khan asking him "if he realises that Labour seems insincere in its support for reform" Mr Khan struggled in reply simply spluttering out "I thank my Hon Friend for his helpful comment".

The future of the coalition government could be called into question if the programme motion goes down - now this is what the Labour party want hence why they wont co-operate with the government over the programme motion. The Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives agreed to Lords reform in 2010. The Coalition government have put the Bill forward. It isn't perfect but Conservative MPs voting to wreck it will be a breaking of the Coalition Agreement.

In this event the Liberal Democrats would be well within their rights to either refuse to co-operate on anything they don't like or simply leaving the government. In that they'd be letting the Tories struggle on for a couple of months as a minority government before a motion of no-confidence in the government is put forward and a general election is required. Rebels like Mrs Mensch may well reap what they sow as her majority is only around 2000 and would be a main target for  the Labour party.