Author Archives: Paul Tyler

Lord Paul Tyler: Lib Dems stop Tories skewing party funding law in their favour

Naturally, with so much media and public attention on the Budget, few with have spotted some major defeats for the Government in the House of Lords last night.

Most significantly our Liberal Democrat initiative to stop the Tories skewing party funding legislation in their favour was given huge support – across the House, with even some Conservative Peers rebelling or abstaining.   Ministers’ plans suffered a resounding defeat – 320 to 172, a majority of 148

This is our best chance in this Parliament to get the parties thinking again about the wider issue of funding democracy in a way which prevents wealthy individuals and organisations buying preferential access, influence and patronage. I set out some broad objectives for those talks in an emergency motion for the conference ballot (pdf – pg 18) last weekend.

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Paul Tyler writes: Boundary changes focus the minds of Tory hopefuls

If you think Tory rivalry is at fever pitch, you ain’t seen nothing yet.  The accidental coincidence of the forthcoming constituency boundary changes with the aftermath of the EU Referendum campaign may come to haunt David Cameron or his successor.

The imminence of the boundary review – with its planned reduction of Commons Members from 650 to 600 – means that almost every single Conservative MP will be facing his or her new “selectorate” in a  matter of a few months’ time.   The volume of Tory MPs siding with “LEAVE” is hardly surprising in that light.  Tory activists are increasingly Eurosceptic and the Daily Telegraph rates them currently 75% for “LEAVE”. This makes them even more unrepresentative of Conservative voters, and of the electorate as a whole, than previously.

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Preventing the Tories tilting the political scales (again)

House of Lords

Last week saw the largest Government defeat yet in the Lords during this Parliament, putting a brake on Conservative plans to cut trade union funding to the Labour Party. The move they are attempting to make MUST be coupled with a fair cap on individual donations to get ALL the big money out of politics. Ministers repeatedly allege that their bill is not about party funding, but this is arrant poppycock. Plainly, it IS party funding reform but it is for one party only.

This attempt to tilt the political scales in a Conservative direction is hardly without precedent. In this Parliament alone we have seen up to 1.9 million registered voters unilaterally wiped off the electoral roll, cuts to the funding which enables opposition parties to be effective, and of course boundary changes continue apace. In the year up to the election 57% of Labour funds came from trade unions, while 59% of ALL individual donations to all parties put together went to the Conservatives. To stem one form of funding, without the remotest movement on the other form, is another naked attempt to entrench Conservative undiluted power. It is also a breach of the Conservative manifesto which promised:

In the next Parliament, we will legislate to ensure trade unions use a transparent opt-in process for subscriptions to political parties. AND We will continue to seek agreement on a comprehensive package of party funding reform.

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Lib Dems expose Tory self-interest on the Trade Union Bill

Yesterday, Lorely Burt, Cathy Bakewell, Ben Stoneham, Barbara Janke, Chris Rennard and I all spoke on the Government’s Trade Union Bill.

As our BIS spokesperson, Lorely gave an excellent run down of the issues,

and of the Liberal Democrat approach to them, pointing out the flaws in the parts of the Bill which deal with strike action. She argued the measures in the Bill will entrench positions on either side of an industrial dispute, and take workers more frequently and quickly down the path to industrial action as a result.

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Lord Paul Tyler writes…Votes at 16: Labour flunks it again

As soon as it was known that 16 and 17 year old would have a say in the referendum on Scottish independence, I tabled a Bill in the Lords for a comprehensive change in the franchise. I have long believed that there is a strong case for lowering the voting age, in light of the maturity and political awareness of this group, and the many, much rehearsed adult responsibilities they take on. There is a pragmatic argument too, which is simply that creating a seamless link for as many young people as possible between citizenship education in schools, electoral registration in the classroom, and then actual participation at the ballot box, is likely to instil the habit of voting throughout later life.

With the advent of the EU Referendum Bill, I thought that even those who had reservations would surely accept that 16 and 17 year olds who had so successfully been given a say in the 2014 Scottish referendum could not be excluded from the franchise in a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union.  Labour told us that they agreed.

Our campaign then started out quite well.  With cross-party support for the principle at Committee Stage (when the Lords rarely votes), and then a thumping majority of 82 for the amendment at Report Stage, we were set-fair to force a government rethink. Or so you would think.

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Lord Paul Tyler writes…Effective opposition?

While most of the unusual attention paid to the House of Lords this week focused on for the important tax-credit debates on Monday – in which Labour failed to support us in killing off Osborne’s cuts – there was another ‘fatal motion’ in my name the following day.

With support from Tom Brake, Chris Rennard, William Wallace and Tony Greaves, I moved to stop the Conservatives deleting 1.9 million entries from the electoral register, against the express advice of the Electoral Commission .  The Government is dead set on ending the transitionary period – carefully negotiated in the Coalition – for the change from household to individual electoral registration.

By using an order-making power to bring forward the end-date for the transition, the Government calculates that the 2016 boundary review will produce fewer urban, Conservative-hostile constituencies because most of the people they are taking off are in densely populated areas. In Hackney, 23% will be deleted.

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Lord (Paul) Tyler writes…Government is playing a dangerous game by resisting democratic reform of the Lords

 

This week the House of Lords is set to do one of the things it loves most: talking about itself. How wonderful it is; how learned are its members, but how beastly it is that anyone new is ever placed here. We will hear many wise heads opine that the Prime Minister is guilty of a gross abuse of process in appointing new peers this year, and that he is making the place “unsustainable”.  We will hear over and over that the “reputation of the House” is under threat. Some Peers seem to imagine that the public would view as entirely peachy an unelected chamber of Parliament predicated on patronage, just as long as only those who have already been appointed are the only ones ever allowed in.

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