Tories threaten to ignore their mandate on Lords reform

In threatening to rebel over Lords reform, Tory backbenchers are forcing the government to renege on both manifesto promises and the coalition agreement.

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Reform of the House of Lords, it appears, is now a red line for a considerable number of Conservative backbenchers.

House-of-Lords-PortcullisThe Telegraph reports the government’s plans to replace the Lords with an elected Senate met with hostility at yesterday’s meeting of the Tory backbench 1922 committee.

Of the 70 MPs at the meeting, 40 spoke against the plans, including Jesse Norman and Nadhim Zahawi, both usually considered loyalists.

Three Parliamentary Private Secretaries (PPS) are now prepared to vote against the bill – a move that would, in effect, mean their resigning and engendering the most serious challenge to David Cameron’s authority since the coalition government’s formation in 2010.

Indeed, one MP, speaking to the Telegraph, noted that any rebellion on Lords reform would ‘dwarf’ the 81 backbenchers who voted for a referendum on EU membership last year, suggesting that the plans were a direct threat to the Conservative Party.

He said:

“Whatever you think about the elected lords, this has the potential to destroy the party. We stand for integrity and unity.”

As such, the plans will almost certainly now be shelved: Cameron’s track record, when it comes to picking (and winning) fights with his own backbenchers, is not auspicious.

Yet the situation is more than usually problematic, since reforming the House of Lords was a feature of the Conservative manifesto in 2010:

“We will work to build a consensus for a mainly-elected second chamber to replace the current House of Lords, recognising that an efficient and effective second chamber should play an important role in our democracy and requires both legitimacy and public confidence.”

Admittedly, the language is rather cagey – ‘work to build a consensus’, ‘mainly-elected’ – but the commitment is nonetheless there. Moreover, outside the Tory ranks, the issue of Lords reform isn’t remotely controversial: if anything, it’s consensual. Labour, of course, have been talking about Lords reform since 1997, and continue to do so.

The Liberal Democrat 2010 manifesto was equally explicit on the matter:

“[We will] replace the House of Lords with a fully-elected second chamber with considerably fewer members than the current House.”

As was this subsection of the coalition agreement, no less:

“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 motion by December 2010…

“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.”

 


See also:

The principles of British fairness, the rule of law and Magna Carta are at stake 16 Jan 2012

Lords big beasts turn up the heat on reform 27 Jun 2011

Tory and Labour peers look set to frustrate Clegg on Lords reform 17 Jun 2011

Diversity and democracy: Reforming the Lords 1 Jun 2011

Another Lords defeat bodes ill for Clegg’s constitutional reform agenda 12 May 2011

Despite calls for “wholly elected” Lords, Clegg supports Cameron’s peer packing 21 Apr 2011

Is Lord Glasman more radical than the Young Fabians? 18 Jan 2011


 

Two years ago, those Tory MPs now threatening rebellion on this issue happily campaigned on a manifesto a central commitment of which they had no intention of honouring. One might legitimately ask which other pledges they have similar reservations about.

 


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24 Responses to “Tories threaten to ignore their mandate on Lords reform”

  1. Pulp Ark

    Tories threaten to ignore their mandate on Lords… http://t.co/B97wzX5k #CleanPolitics #coalition #Constitutionalreform #muslim #tcot #sioa

  2. A socialist

    Tories threaten to ignore their mandate on Lords reform, writes @BenPhillips1989: http://t.co/470b56zB

  3. Foxy52

    Tories threaten to ignore their mandate on Lords reform, writes @BenPhillips1989: http://t.co/470b56zB

  4. Lindy B

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  5. leftlinks

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  6. Jonathon Louth

    RT @leftfootfwd: Tories threaten to ignore their mandate on Lords reform http://t.co/OfFc5IQQ
    #SO4703 SO#4702

  7. Alex Braithwaite

    RT @leftfootfwd: Tories threaten to ignore their mandate on Lords reform http://t.co/4bJ1uElc

  8. BevR

    RT @leftfootfwd: Tories threaten to ignore their mandate on Lords reform http://t.co/P4jbO75q

  9. Anonymous

    And what about manifesto promises from Labour? The cause of boom and bust.

    What is needed is direct democracy. Getting rid of the Lords is the start. Then we can have a cheap option of keeping MPs under control. Referenda by proxy. You nominate an MP as your proxy, and its proxy votes that count for final approval of bills.

    That way manifesto promises don’t matter. What matters is the will of the people, not the will of party machines.

    So if you can’t convince the electorate to approve your bills, you don’t get to do it.

    So if you want to borrow 150 bn a year, and the electorate say you can’t, you can’t. If you want to raise taxes, and the electorate say no, you can’t. You might get 90% taxes on the rich passed, but then when the rich leave (or there money does), and you can’t borrow any more, you and the electorate have a problem. However the difference is that now the electorate has responsibility. With the current situation they have none.

    It even works in your favour now you are out of office. You get to have influence where as now you have none.

  10. Paul Southworth

    Tories & LDs promised Lords reform in their manifestos. Yet another example they don't care what was said pre-election http://t.co/iPYBQLMT

  11. Martin Johnston

    Govt in 'renege' shock RT @leftfootfwd: Tories threaten to ignore their mandate on Lords reform writes @BenPhillips1989 http://t.co/h6GpXt5X

  12. H. O.

    RT @leftfootfwd: Tories threaten to ignore their mandate on Lords reform http://t.co/JBl7FbVU

  13. Quentin McCloud

    Tories threaten to ignore their mandate on Lords reform, writes @BenPhillips1989: http://t.co/470b56zB

  14. Will Straw

    Tories threaten to ignore their mandate on Lords reform, writes @BenPhillips1989: http://t.co/470b56zB

  15. Lords News

    Tories threaten to ignore their mandate on Lords reform | Left Foot …: In threatening to rebel over Lords refo… http://t.co/SYKURkov

  16. Anonymous

    Throw out the checks and balances!
    Rule by the mob!
    Stop effective government!

    Somalia has a very liberal immigration policy, you know.

  17. Anonymous

    Nope. Rule by the electorate, not rule by the elite.

    Off to Somalia now? Will they accept you or are you trying for Germany again?

    Remember the standard left refrain that you are repeating.

    If you don’t like what the Tories are doing why don’t you leave the country. A particularly sick view that you are exposing.

  18. Anonymous

    Ah yes, “if you don’t like it, leave”. No place for dissidents in your One True Society.

    Of course you’re for a “unified” electorate composed only of acceptables.

  19. Francis Hoar

    This is nonsense. A commitment to ‘work towards consensus’ is no manifesto commitment at all. It is what it says, a mandate to discuss. The truth of this is shown by the stark distinction between this non-manifesto ‘commitment’ and the clear Lib Dem one.
    Likewise with the Coalition agreement (which, of course, was not subject to any democratic vote). It is merely an agreement to bring forward a proposal. Contrast this with other, clear, commitments.
    There is no manifesto commitment. There is no consensus. It is rank misrepresentation by you to describe this as Tory MPs ‘ignoring’ a ‘mandate’: one that doesn’t exist precisely because the Party is split on this issue – with the large majority in the country being decidedly opposed to an elected Upper House.

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  21. Shamik Das

    #LordsReform: Tories threaten to ignore their mandate on Lords reform: http://t.co/4eP57ZS4 #Newsnight

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