Lords reform: what the failure means for the Coalition, David Cameron and Nick Clegg

First up, here’s Nick Robinson’s take on yesterday’s events followed by myself, via the BBC News Channel:

Here also are Tim Montgomerie’s rather pungent views on David Cameron and my own on Nick Clegg, via Radio 4’s The World Tonight:

* Mark Pack is a member of the Federal Board and editor of Liberal Democrat Newswire. He is a candidate for Party President.

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10 Comments

  • Bill le Breton 7th Aug '12 - 8:59am

    This fiasco is yet another example of weak political management by the Liberal Democrat leadership in a coalition environment.

    In coalition politics everything (including yesterday’s duet) proceeds by way of negotiation. On the issue of Lord’s Reform, the Conservative leadership have made two big sets of negotiating decisions.

    The first ended with them accommodating 90 of their backbenchers. The second ended with them agreeing a ‘price’ with the Liberal Democrat leadership for dropping Lord’s Reform – in effect 20 odd seats in the next election.

    On our side, these sets of decisions are mirrored by decisions that facilitated our Coalition partners getting into a position where (to use Mark’s phrase) ‘(Cameron) has not been able to bring his party with him’, and secondly to agree *at this moment in time* to the deal on Lord’s Reform/Boundary Review.

    On making their moves, the Tory leadership will have factored in the potential responses of the Liberal Democrat leadership and I think they ‘guessed’ right what these would be.

    The trouble is that, in all this, the Conservative leadership believes it can rely on the Liberal Democrat leadership reacting in certain ways. For some reason our present Leadership is ideologically unable to contemplate dealing with Labour on issues such as this one. This increases the power of the Conservatives.

    We need this coalition to work better and we need it to revise its economic policy. This can only be achieved by changing the Liberal Democrat members of the Quad – the engine house of decision making in the Coalition – which of course means changing the leadership of our Party.

    We have to bring in those with better connections to Labour and less ideological prejudice.

    If Cameron had known from the start that we would involve Labour in the battle for Lord’s Reform, he would not have drifted into a situation where his backbenchers were able to carry the day.

    We need tougher politicians.

  • Tougher politicians, yes. Also those closer to the Lib Dem mainstream.

  • Can’t quite remember who “signed off” on the Coalition Agreement for the Tories, but think it was the Parliamentary party. If they’ve been given a “line item veto”, doesn’t that mean the Lib Dem members should also have one, as the Agreement was approved by a special conference…?

  • MacK (Not a Lib Dem) 7th Aug '12 - 10:24am

    Clegg should resign. He has failed to secure two fundamental objectives for the Liberal Democrats: proportional representation (Not AV) and Lords Reform. In addition, the government in which he has responsibility second only to Cameron, has destroyed the economic recovery. It is quite clear that the Tories real agenda was an unreformed House of Lords inflated by many more unaccountable peers, and a gerrymandered commons with Labour and Lib Dem representation emasculated. By producing such a botched House of Lords Reform bill that was acceptable to nobody and was therefore doomed to fail, Clegg has played right into the Tories’ hands. He should go.

  • Rob – no-one except the Tory negotiating team signed off on the Coalition Agreement from their side. Unlike the Lib Dems who had a vote of the parliamentary party & an urgent members conference to ratify. Whatever the policy positions, the parties are quite different in how they conduct their business. We should be proud that we are democratic and our members influence policy.

  • Simon Hebditch 7th Aug '12 - 5:16pm

    The House of Lords debacle was a car crash waiting to happen. It was obvious for months that there would be a significant Conservative rebellion and that there was no logical reason to expect an opposition party to bail us out. Even a number of Lib Dem Lords rejected the draft bill and preferred an alternative approach. I am tempted to feel sorry for Nick Clegg but can’t quite bring myself to do it!

    The essential issues now revolve around the economy and public expenditure decisions. The Lib Dem leadership is saying that it can now concentrate on economic objectives. Unfortunately, the party leadership is wedded to precisely the wrong policies. We are part and parcel of Osbornnomics – a failed deficit reduction strategy, an economic strategy which is failing comprehensively. The question now is how do we get out of the coalition before the next election in a way which is comprehensible to the electorate?

    To me, the final red line is the next comprehensive spending review. Despite Danny Alexander’s commitment to the Tory economic programme up to 2017, we must reject any further public expenditure cuts which affect the most disadvantaged in society and insist on a change to economic and fiscal policy. If we give in to the Osborne approach over the next spending round, that will be disaster for the country and well deserved oblivion for the Lib Dems.

  • Cheltenham Robin 7th Aug '12 - 8:30pm

    What hope is there for the economy when the chancellor uses the phrase 110%

  • MacK, as you say, you are not a LibDem, so keep your nose out of our business.!
    The members of the LibDem Party vote for our Leader, one-member-one-vote, and there is no groundswell of opinion from the grassroots of the Party to suggest any dissatisfaction with his overall perfomance, and no vote of confidence has been tabled for the Party Conference next month. Nick will continue to be our Leader, with the vast majority of the Party fully behind him, – which is a lot more than can be said for the either the leader of the Labour opportunism machine or for the leader of the two part Conservative Party.

  • Richard Dean 8th Aug '12 - 12:39pm

    I would say that it is within the liberal tradution to allow others to express their opinions about what a liberal or democratic party should do. It’s just that we don’t need to take any notice.

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