Over on the Guardian’s Comment Is Free, Lib Dem peer Lord (Paul) Tyler has a piece on the (not particularly successful) campaign by 38-Degrees to lobby members of the House of Lords over health reform.
Here’s a sample:
As a peer who received many 38 Degrees-inspired communications in the runup to the debate over the NHS bill, I can say with some confidence that their lack of influence was strongly linked to the unduly polarising approach they took to this issue. They picked the wrong battle, and the wrong argument.
Their battle was essentially on whether to kill the bill off or not, and the Lords just doesn’t do that. We are a revising chamber. And their argument was “if the government’s plans go through unchanged, we could lose our health service for ever”. This is untrue, and peers knew it. Meanwhile, 38 Degrees’ support for the Owen/Hennessy wheeze of shunting the bill into a select committee was misguided, since peers – including 51 of the independent crossbenchers – recognised that this was wrong in principle and flawed in practice.
The Lords has a great many people with something to contribute on this bill. Now that it will be subject to the usual legislative process, they will all have the chance to contribute comprehensively, to table amendments, and to seek genuine, concrete improvements. A select committee is by definition select – small – so many members would have been excluded, and those who were included would have been handpicked by the party whips. In practice, it would also have meant examining the bill far too late for NHS staff who now need it to make progress, notwithstanding their reservations.
You can read the piece in full here.