LibLink: Charles Kennedy – Lords reform: we’ll defeat the rebels

In the Guardian yesterday evening Charles Kennedy challenged Labour to restore faith in Parliament today by supporting Lords Reform.

He writes:

For 100 years progressives in British politics have tried to bring democracy to one of the most important but arcane institutions in our country – the House of Lords. And for 100 years, the establishment has resisted, blocked or talked out those who argue for change at every turn. But today we have an historic opportunity to finally bring about that change – and it is in Labour’s hands.

Labour politicians for generations have fought to bring democracy to the House of Lords. Most recently Jack Straw made a valiant effort to try to end the hereditary principle. He did so with the support of the Lib Dems. But the establishment kicked back and his reforms, while progress, were minor and piecemeal. And at the last general election, reforming the House of Lords was included in the Labour manifesto by its author, Ed Miliband.

He concludes:

Make no mistake, this bill is transformative, and its passing would be historic. After 100 years of baby steps we have the chance to make a giant leap. Whatever you think of Nick Clegg, the Lib Dems or the coalition government, the fact remains that an historic opportunity that progressives have yearned after for a century is within our grasp. This is not the time for Labour to play political games. It is now or very likely never. Tomorrow a progressive alliance can defeat the Conservative rebels who are determined to defend the establishment. Together, we must take that chance.

Read the full article here.

This view is supported by the Guardian in its editorial.

* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames, where she is still very active with the local party, and is the Hon President of Kingston Lib Dems.

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14 Comments

  • I believe Charles is being optimistic if he thinks that Labour can be persuaded to back principle over momentary advantage. Unlikely.

  • Christian De Feo10th Jul ’12 – 1:22pm…………..I believe Charles is being optimistic if he thinks that Labour can be persuaded to back principle over momentary advantage. Unlikely………..

    Just as optimistic as were labour to believe that LibDem MPs might act morally on the Hunt issue..
    I read much about how, if Tory MPs vote against Lords’ reform, LibDems will go for ‘payback’; strange that any mention of a possible Labour ‘payback’ is viewed with such outrage by LibDems.

  • Jason – Hunt and the Lords are clean separate things. I don’t see not acting on Hunt as anything other than a childish justification for not voting for Lords Reform. If you believe in reform of the Lords, vote for it; your stratagems of revenge and petulance are meaningless.

  • Christian De Feo10th Jul ’12 – 1:37pm………….Jason – Hunt and the Lords are clean separate things. I don’t see not acting on Hunt as anything other than a childish justification for not voting for Lords Reform. If you believe in reform of the Lords, vote for it; your stratagems of revenge and petulance are meaningless…………..

    If we offered a referendum on Lords’ reform Labour would be ‘onside’ There appears to be nothing we won’t compromise on when it’s a Tory proposal but any suggestion of a compromise with Labour is heresy.
    As for ‘revenge and petulance’; LibDem MPs linking Hunt with the Iraq war was THE prime example of ‘childish justification’.

  • LondonLiberal 10th Jul '12 - 2:46pm

    jason – if Labour wanted reform they wouldn’t go for a referendum – they have reformed the lords in the past without one. So why now? Because it allows them to look in favour of the measure without needing to cause a split in their party by actually backing it. Why do this? Because they know that a lost referendum for Clegg will cause problems in the coalition, and that is Labour’s most desired goal at the moment. It’s sad to see such a great party act in so utterly pathetic a manner. But then, they did lie about a war that ultimately cost the lives of a million people, so nothing should shock us, really.

  • Again, I keep hearing from Labour acolytes “because we perceive the Lib Dems to have behaved badly, we’ll behave badly in return”. That doesn’t put Labour in a position of moral superiority, just perpetuates tit for tat petulance. It’s trying to find a “get out of jail free” card for doing wrong.

  • The referendum would call both Millibland and Cameron’s bluff, it would also show an attempt at consensus. There is bad feeling regarding Hunt, but most of all this is just a simple negotiation, support for a programme measure in return for a referendum.

  • Christian De Feo10th Jul ’12 – 2:55pm…………..Again, I keep hearing from Labour acolytes “because we perceive the Lib Dems to have behaved badly, we’ll behave badly in return”. That doesn’t put Labour in a position of moral superiority, just perpetuates tit for tat petulance. It’s trying to find a “get out of jail free” card for doing wrong…………………….

    So those who dares to differ are ‘Labour acolytes’; hardly a strong argument. Labour’s manifesto called for referendum; we seem to need one for local mayors but for something as important as Lords’ reform ???
    I mentioned our MPs’ stance over Hunt; where was our moral superiority there? We were the ones who epitomised “because we perceive the Labour party have behaved badly, we’ll behave badly in return” . Sadly, that has been the argument our MPs have used time and again, against Labour, since this coalition was formed.

  • The withdrawl of the programme motion just highlights again Cleggs uselessness as a Leader .All he had to do was negotiate to find a timetable that Labour could support and some form of Lords reform with a better bill than has been proposed could have been achieved . It’s no good Charles Kennedy playing the progressive card for this whilst the parliamentary party have sat on their hands through Jeremy Hunt ,banking inquiries ,remploy closures and benefit cuts . You’ve made your bed…

  • Charles Beaumont 10th Jul '12 - 4:56pm

    @ Steve Dyke “All he had to do was negotiate to find a timetable that Labour could support”. Oh. Easy then.

    You just don’t get it do you? Sadiq Khan refused to say how many days of debate were needed because Labour’s priority is to deal the government a serious blow and the LDs within that a body blow. There is no timetable because Labour knows that it can score here and it knows that its supporters are mostly indifferent. This is a wreckers’ game and anyone who thinks otherwise is delusional about the cynicism of the Labour party.

  • @Charles Beaumont
    “This is a wreckers’ game and anyone who thinks otherwise is delusional about the cynicism of the Labour party.”

    You could well be right, but the only way to be sure would have been to have called their bluff. State openly that if they support a new programme motion then they get the referendum.

  • @Charles Beaumont
    “This is a wreckers’ game and anyone who thinks otherwise is delusional about the cynicism of the Labour party.”

    Yes and it is the LibDem’s who provided the wrecking ball …

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