Nick Clegg’s e-mail to party members on Lords reform

In the aftermath of last night’s vote (and non vote) in the Commons, Nick Clegg sent a remarkably temperate e-mail to party members. Calm though the language may have been, his message to David Cameron, that he needs to sort his MPs out, is clear. Here’s the e-mail in full:

This evening we overwhelmingly won an historic vote on the Second Reading of the House of Lords Reform Bill – a Bill that will finish something our party started a century ago.

This is a huge triumph for our party, and a clear mandate to deliver much needed reforms to the House of Lords.

As David Cameron and I have both repeatedly made clear – in the Queen’s speech, in May 2011 in the White Paper and in May 2010 in the Coalition Agreement – the Coalition Government is committed to reforming the House of Lords. And we have every intention of delivering it.

The Liberal Democrats have worked closely with our Conservative partners to bring forward a Bill they could support. We have been reasonable and looked at acceptable compromises at every stage. That is why we agreed to withdraw today’s timetabling motion, to allow the Conservative team in Government to take more time over the summer to talk to their backbench colleagues.

When we return in the autumn to vote on this again, we fully expect the Conservatives to deliver this crucial part of the coalition deal – as we have delivered other coalition policies. At the same time, we will increase the pressure on Labour to, as the Guardian put it this morning, ‘simply stand up and do the right thing’ and support these reforms in votes in Parliament when it really counts.

We have been waiting for Lords Reform for 100 years. Today we took a huge step towards delivering it. There will be many more tests ahead, but with your help we will continue to make and win the case for reform.

Best Wishes,

Nick Clegg

 

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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60 Comments

  • I’m sorry, but I have difficulty believing that the rebel Tories will be persuaded by their leadership to change their votes. Many sounded like they were willing to defend the existing Lords to the last ditch.

    There is no freedom without the truth, and the truth is that this was a tremendous setback. It is time to view the Tory “partners” with clear eyes: they have simply not been honest nor fair.

  • Stop putting pressure on Labour, they are in opposition if you want their support try negotiating for it. Try offering them something like the referendum they want. If you do this then the pressure on Cameron recaps up. You simply say that if his backbench rebels and you need Labour to win the boundary changes will be abstained on by government members with others givena free vote….

    Laws was rubbish on Newsmight last night. He did not agree to meet with Labour, made it clear that a referendum was not going to be on the table, and did not refute the fact that the attempts to get a consensus were stopped after a few days..

  • I do find it amusing when Clegg trumpets a massive win for the party, when in reality, he and the bill have been given a good kick to the gonads and is now rolling around in the long grass unable to catch it’s wind.

    I could trumpet that I have won the lottery, however im not sure when as the draw will not actually take place until sometime after 2020.

    How delightful it is to be so full of optimism.

    No doubt Labour will get blamed by the Libdems for scuppering their reforms, It is easier to blame Labour rather than to take a stand against the Tories who have throughout this term in government ruined ALL Liberal democrats plans on reforming politics and clearly are taking the wee wee.

  • Nick Clegg can’t have it both ways. Just 2 weeks ago his office were putting forward the position that coalition MP’s were not bound to vote for coalition policy not in the coalition agreement . This president was then set when the Lib Dem MP’s chose not to support Jeremy Hunt. What happened last night is that the boot was on the other foot and now Nick Clegg whines and complains at the unfairness of it all.

  • jenny barnes 11th Jul '12 - 8:30am

    If that was a triumph, I hate to think what a defeat would look like. Oh. I know. The NHS Bill, schools, welfare reform, tuition fees. This government appears to be 100% opposed to what I thought the LibDems were about. At this point a move to supply & confidence (maybe informally) would be very appropriate.
    Triumph? Isn’t there something about actually winning in the definition?

  • ……………………………..When we return in the autumn to vote on this again, we fully expect the Conservatives to deliver this crucial part of the coalition deal – as we have delivered other coalition policies. At the same time, we will increase the pressure on Labour to, as the Guardian put it this morning, ‘simply stand up and do the right thing’ and support these reforms in votes in Parliament when it really counts………………

    Labour supported the second vote; 91 Tories defied their whip and voted against. However, it’s still Labour’s fault and they need pressurising.
    I am sick and tired about being told that ‘being in a coalition means we must compromise’ (as we did on Tuition Fees, NHS, Disability, Welfare, etc.). Strangely, when ‘compromise’ (even one which would have delivered our gaol) might involve Labour it’s impracticable.

  • Sadly this is an appalling attempt to spin what actually amounts to our Party blinking first over the issue. I appreciate Coalition is a compromise of both Party’s beliefs and goals, but what I resent more than anything is Clegg trying to manipulate it to be something its not. It is not a victory. It is a compromise. How about a bit of honesty with the membership and with the public?

    It does us no favours to scream victory from the hilltops, when everyone knows it is none of the sort. It just makes us look rather stupid.

  • A quote from a comment on Labour Uncut:
    “Talk about naive. Cameron may have been gotten rid of by then. 100 people defy him…100 people for whom the threat “I will block your career” means nothing because they know he won’t be around long enough to block their career and the right winger to follow (Gove? Fox?) will be happy to put them on the ministerial ladder for undermining Cameron.”

    Not certain about Gove or Fox, but I would say that it is a possible scenario the way things are going

  • @Jenny Barnes

    Yes, we’ve tasted plenty of defeats, which IMHO became inevitable the second we joined the coalition.

    Confidence and supply was the best option available then, and is probably the least worst option available now.

  • Nick Clegg has handled this proposed reform that his department is responsible for spectacularly poorly and must accept a large part of the blame for his mishandling in this which prevented any wider agreement being reached. In fact it was a text book lesson in how to guarantee defeat.

    First the was the his decision not to allow time for ANY debate on either the Joint Committee for reform of the House of Lords report or the minority report it also produced and the proposals put forward by the joint committee.

    Instead only debate was allowed on the narrow and flawed proposals his office put forward. The removal of non-political expects from the House of Lords, the removal of crossbenchers, single 15 year terms giving these new party politicians legitimacy through election but not accountability to the people, the inexplicable decision not to put major constructional reforms to the public in a referendum and to try to guillotine debate on major constructional reforms.

    If that wasn’t a big enough shambled the Lib Dems then guaranteed the proposals would be defeated when they foolishly and cack handedly attempted to threaten and blackmail coalition MP’s against rebelling by the saying they would break the coalition agreement. Not a good way to win trust and support.

    Nick Clegg and the Lib Dem spinners may be trying to spread the blame around this morning but he should look in the mirror to see the person most to blame.

  • Robert Carruthers 11th Jul '12 - 9:27am

    @ Dean

    Do you think that any amount of time would have convinced the Tory rebels to vote for Lords reform? If you do, you are very naive.

    “If that wasn’t a big enough shambled the Lib Dems then guaranteed the proposals would be defeated when they foolishly and cack handedly attempted to threaten and blackmail coalition MP’s against rebelling by the saying they would break the coalition agreement. Not a good way to win trust and support.”

    Do you seriously think MPs like Douglas Carswell are going to give their “trust and support” unless they are forced to?

    It is not blackmail to say someone should stick to an agreement they signed up to or face the consequences. What else were the Lib Dems supposed to do, precisely?

    Your criticisms are utterly wide of the mark and reveal little understanding of the forces at play here. The Tories must be forced, kicking and screaming if necessary to follow their side of the bargain or face the consequence of losing their boundary changes. If they do kick and scream, it is their own stupid fault. They have been given ample warning.

    However, overall I am filing the Nick Clegg e-mail under “Denial, in state of”. If the Tories are going to continue to deliver kicks to the nether parts, they can expect to get some back.

  • @Robert Carruthers

    Douglas Carswell was not one of the rebels last night.

  • Robert Carruthers 11th Jul '12 - 9:30am

    @ Matt

    “No doubt Labour will get blamed by the Libdems for scuppering their reforms”

    Er, yes, why not? It’s pretty simple. They could have supported reform, but they chose not to do so in order to further their agenda of opportunistic posturing.

    However, it does at least do one thing: confirm absolutely without doubt, once and for all, that Labour is not and never will be a progressive party committed to making Britain a more democratic place.

  • Robert Carruthers 11th Jul '12 - 9:34am

    @ Dean

    My mistake. Substitute another right winger like Bill Cash. The point remains the same. Suggesting more debate would have solved it is simply not true and you know it.

  • Bill le Breton 11th Jul '12 - 9:47am

    You only have to read the first two comments here to see once again the poor tactical appreciation in the leader’s office.

    Christian rightly questions whether the rebel conservatives will have their minds changed over the summer – surely their numbers will grow following their success. Steve Way makes the sensible plea to stop putting pressure on Labour.

    We have had the former Party’s Head of Strategy (I still have to pinch myself that this person held this post) mouthing off with some crude threats, thus strengthening the power and numbers of the rebels.

    Last night on Newsnight we fielded Laws who persisted in the castigation of Labour whilst the apparently ‘friendly’ hand offered by the Labour spokesperson and in so doing continued the Coalition Government’s agree line that it was Labours ‘fault’. That was the time to field someone non-toxic to Labour.

    The tactical inexperience is breath taking.

    Lord’s reform is now an opportunity to exercise the balance of power that is at our command provided we dare use it. The Conservative leadership has failed to comply with the spirit of Coalition and therefore we are free to negotiate with all other parties in the house to get that specific policy through.

    We can demonstrate the new politics of a balanced parliament. Do the deal with Labour on a referendum which should be set for October 2014.– we will win. The referendum divides the Conservatives in the run up to 2015. It unites us AND it shows how even handed we are, working with whoever will do what is right and best for Britain. Demonstrating what we promised in 2010.

  • @Robert Carruthers

    Your proposition that it is only right wingers who would never be convinced falls apart when you look at which MP’s voted for and against the bill last night.

    Adam Afriyie, Angie Bray, Richard Fuller all voted against the bill.

    Liam Fox, Douglas Carswell (as you were surprised to learn as it went against your prejudice) all voted for the bill.

    Also to say that all the rebels were against ANY reform of the House of Lords is a straw man as it ignores the fact that they were willing to back Lord Steels proposed reforms.

  • Bill le Breton11th Jul ’12 – 9:47am…..

    Hear; hear!

  • @Robert Carruthers

    “However, it does at least do one thing: confirm absolutely without doubt, once and for all, that Labour is not and never will be a progressive party committed to making Britain a more democratic place”

    The sheer audacity of this comment is hilarious.

    (i) Please explain how Liberal Democrats where behaving in a democratic manor when they “Abstained” from the vote on referring Jeremy Hunt for Investigation in to “possible” breeches of the ministerial code, just because Labour tabled the motion. Reason given because of Labours record on Iraq, and despite the fact that Liberal Democrats including Nick Clegg had said Jeremy Hunt had more questions to answer.

    (ii) Liberal Democrats voting against an “independent judge led” enquiry into the latest scandals with the banks, because it was a Labour motion.

    (iii) Liberal Democrats voting for the top down reorganising and destruction of our NHS, even though it was in NO PARTIES MANIFESTO and certainly not in the coalition agreement, and against the will of the people.

    Liberal Democrats need to stop and take stock and stop accusing other parties of not wanting a more democratic Britain, when they are part of a government and a party that is behaving in the most undemocratic manor in generations.

  • In the aftermath of the AV debacle we should have eased Lords reform towards the long grass. We would have faced little criticism by publicly revamping our priorities as the economy languished and the bankers warded off attempts at radical reform.

    Nick must surely be well aware that last night’s vote cannot in any way be described as a victory. I am afraid it is just the first stage of another monumental “egg on face” process.

  • ……………………..Last night on Newsnight we fielded Laws who persisted in the castigation of Labour whilst the apparently ‘friendly’ hand offered by the Labour spokesperson and in so doing continued the Coalition Government’s agree line that it was Labours ‘fault’. That was the time to field someone non-toxic to Labour……………

    I listened to Gove’s monologue and, just when I thought that was as bad as it could get, up popped Laws. In the same sentence he claimed a great victory because of the majority in the second vote (achieved through Labour’s support) and castigated Labour. “Send in the Clowns”

  • @Bill le Breton: Have to agree. While I admire Laws, I thought his approach last night was completely wrong. Not sure what he was hoping to achieve. Lib Dems have been shockingly tactically naive over this, and perhaps in their approach to this coalition, from day one.

  • Personally, I think Lords reform was the proverbial ‘Cuckoo in the nest’ – IMHO neither the Tories or Labour had much intention towards their manifesto commitments. I have heard the arguments, and listened to the rhetoric, and it is my opinion that this would have been kicked into the long grass much sooner had either won an outright majority.

    It is my considered view, that both put HoL reform in their manifestos in reaction to the public outrage of the expenses scandal, both wanting to show that they were parties of change. If Labour had won a majority, they would have used the excuse being wheeled out at present – ‘More and pressing things to deal with in Government’ and the Tories would not have supported reform from the opposition benches, on the grounds that any referendum was ‘A waste of money, when the Government needs to cut expenditure’ – If the Tories had won a majority, they would have made simpering platitudes for an aspiration ‘To introduce changes’, but in the current economic climate, there are more imprtant issues to deal with – Labour in opposition, would have half-heartedly banged on a about ‘A referendum’ knowing full well this would never have seen the light of day.

    Neither the Tories or Labour had any real motivation to introduce any reform, and yet as the election drew closer and the ‘possibility’ of a hung parliament became stronger, both probably saw the issue of HoL reform as a bargaining tool.

    I, again personally have found the back-peddaling and excuses from all within ALL parties as to why there needs to be further time and debate wasted on this issue disgusting – The view of people I have talked too, is one of nothing but a bunch of self-serving hypocrits – Wanting to cut and reduce, but not willing to reduce the numbers in the Lords. I have also been questioned as to why money my friends have paid in taxes, is then used for those members in the Lords to stuff their pockets with?

    The term ‘Cesspit’ has been used recently to describe the current view of our banking sector, however in my view a cesspit just contains effluent, and needs a sewer to feed into it – In my current thinking, I feel one of the largest sewers currently runs under Westminster – A strange irony when you think, it was due to the smell from sewarage during the time of ‘The Great Stink’ in the 1840’s that prompted Parliament to find the funds for Joseph Bazalgette to rid them of the smell!

  • How many times did the Lib Dems vote in favour of programme motions between 2005 – 2010 ? I’ve never looked before but it seems Clegg habitually voted against them in opposition even when adequate time appeared to have been allocated.

  • If Cameron really put the word out that rebelling wouldn’t harm MP’s careers he is dimmer than I thought.

  • Bill le Breton 11th Jul '12 - 1:06pm

    Would anyone here not enjoy a campaign on Lord’s reform? I know exactly the artwork I’d dig out! Think of the monster petition. Think of the PPBs. We’d put the fun back into being a Liberal Democrat.

    It has always ever been about campaigning – which is what the present policy wonks have never got.

    So, we accept a referendum – especially as it exposes Cameron to exactly that part of his party that he was so keen to disenfranchise by coalescing with us. Let him spend a few days each year dancing to their tune.

    Next, during committee, we can support a motion for a wholly elected chamber. The ‘experts’, can be invited in to give their views as and when relevant – just as is possible in local government AND especially in authorities ‘run’ by elected mayors.

    Why a brain surgeon or a bishop should have a vote on transportation without going through an election, I’ve never understood.

    Next, 15 year terms can be thrown out – they are only there to appease existing peers. A 15 year term is something that might have come forward from North Korea.

    And finally, we can campaign for election by STV. The form of election that puts most choice in the hands of the electorate. We used it in the first council I was on and it was the best antidote to party whipping.

    If we fail, then at least we can have the satisfaction of having stuck to our principles and not confusing people as we do when we try to defend the indefensible.

  • Charles Beaumont 11th Jul '12 - 1:25pm

    The email was depressing. I had a go at redrafting it:

    “This evening we were totally stiffed, again, by our so-called coalition partners. This isn’t the issue to end the coalition on, so I won’t. But this is confirmation that the coalition agreement is regarded by the Tories as a menu, not a commitment. On that basis I will be working with Vince and the rest of the leadership to find the most appropriate exit strategy in the interests of the country and party.”

  • Robert Carruthers 11th Jul '12 - 1:28pm

    @ Matt

    What have any of the things you mention got to do with democratic reform, which is what we are talking about here?

  • @Bill le Breton
    You are so right that it would be a great campaign and cross political boundaries. Imagine challenging the Tory right as to why some hereditary members or life peers like Ashcroft and Archer make our laws. We have nothing to fear from a referendum….

  • @Robert Carruthers

    “What have any of the things you mention got to do with democratic reform, which is what we are talking about here?”

    To put things into context, here is what you said in your previous post

    “However, it does at least do one thing: confirm absolutely without doubt, once and for all, that Labour is not and never will be a progressive party committed to making Britain a more democratic place”

    Making Britain a more democratic “place” is about a lot more than just “reforming the HOL” or “Democratic Reform” as you now chose to call it.

    The examples I gave in my previous post were perfectly appropriate for the discussion .

    when discussing democracy, one should not cherry pick which parts they wish to do so which suits their “parties” current arguments in an attempt to defend hypocrisy.

  • Simon Bamonte 11th Jul '12 - 4:16pm

    I don’t see why so many LDs want a time limit on the debate and seem frightened of a referendum on Lords Reform. An issue as important as this should be debated as long as needed. And there is nothing wrong with putting an issue of constitutional change to the electorate in a referendum. A referendum is, after all, what Labour called for in their 2010 manifesto, so, on this at least, they are being consistent.

    Look, the Tories are using us in this coalition and have been since day one. They feel they are born to rule and are the face of the establishment. They’ve broken the coalition agreement once on the AV vote. We give them tuition fees, welfare reform, an unwanted NHS bill and other illiberal policies. And we get…the pupil premium. It is obvious the Tories have no intention on sticking to the coalition agreement, as someone above said, it is like a menu to them. We should do a deal with Labour on the Lords: if an non time-limited debate and a referendum are the prices to pay for their support, then so be it. We, as democrats, should never be afraid of long debates on issues such as this. And we should also never be afraid of letting the public have a say on such major change.

    The Tories have used us time and time again and will continue to do so. If they won’t abide by the agreement (and they already have form) then it’s time to get out of this coalition. We’re getting nothing out of this, apart from the loss of millions of votes, a dwindling member base (I myself left over the NHS bill) and the notoriety of now being a national joke.

  • A Labour person 11th Jul '12 - 4:27pm

    I didn’t think the Lords reform offered was particularly good but it was better than what we have now. But I am not crying tears over its loss. Perhaps a more sincere attempt to find a compromise might now be attempted?

    More generally, I was shocked at how poor a political tactician Nick Clegg again proved himself to be. Has he not learned that attempting to lecture everyone else as though he was in a position of moral superiority only makes things worse for him? People love to vote against a prig, and that is just how he comes across.

    Would have been far better to have a White Paper and a pre-legislative referendum. Labour grasped that over Scotland and Wales – though of course it was denounced as a sell out by many at the time.

    All the talk of ending the coalition misses the point: you guys need achievements if you are to survive (never mind succeed) at the next election. Propping up a minority Tory administration is not an achievement, maybe using ministerial power to do some popular things (i.e. not NHS type fiascos) that are relevant to most people might be an idea. Hobby horses of the Charter 88 classes did not fit, no matter how worthy (as in HoL reform) they may be.

  • Peter Hayes 11th Jul '12 - 6:35pm

    Is Nick deluded or what? How can 15 year terms for old party hacks on a list system be any different from life peers?

    Pete H

  • Richard Dean 11th Jul '12 - 7:01pm

    This is such a simple bill – hardly worth more than a few days parilamentary discussion time. Ok, so some people don’t like the proposed mechanics of the election process, but why should that be a sticking point? A form seems to have been chosen that was not widely agreed, but that can surely be changed easily?

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/2012-2013/0052/13052.pdf

  • The Guardian is reporting that Cameron is going to tell Clegg he can get rid of the 92 hereditaries and elect “a similar number” of new peers in 2015, and that any further change must be postponed until the next parliament.

    If so, it sounds more like an utter humiliation than a “huge triumph” …

  • Good tactics Nick. According to BBC now Cameron has said to the 1922 committee there will be one more attempt and that a small elected element may be considered…

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-18800592

    So you could have had 80% elected by compromising with Labour and you may end up with the square root of nothing or a “small elected element” by refusing to do so.

  • Simon Bamonte 11th Jul '12 - 7:31pm

    @Chris, @Steve Way:

    I’m sure Clegg will soon be sending around another e-mail telling us that Cameron’s newest “offer” is a “win”. And LDV will soon put up a piece saying this, like everything else that the Tories have shafted us on in coalition, is actually Labour’s fault and nothing to do with duplicitous Tories at all!

  • @Simon Bahamonte, Chris Way etc etc

    You say ‘compromise with Labour’ as if that’s a surefire solution to getting this reform through.

    I would ask you how many manifestos have they published promising it, and further, how many times have they been elected to majority government with that promise?

    At any point for the past century, Labour could have tried to talk to us and get it done. At any point, frankly, from Paddy Ashdown’s ‘realignment of the left’ days to now, they could have said, ‘look, we’ve got a stonking great majority, but we need your help to face off some old rebels and since we’re so committed to democracy we’ll come to the table on this’.

    They have not done this.

    And yet, now our party’s refusal to be led up the garden path (again) with this talk of referendums and filibuster speeches designed to smother reform in the cradle is somehow a great betrayal of compromise and communication?

    Pull the other one.

  • T-J

    It depends what your ‘Plan B’ is.

    Getting the Tory rebels to change their minds, presumably. But why should they do that?

    At least Labour have said they agree in principle with reform. What have you got to lose by offering some concessions – 5 more days’ debate, for example? If you want to be cynical, look on it as calling Miliband’s bluff.

  • @T-J
    The alternative hasn’t worked out so good has it ??

    Cameron now planning to water down the proposals or drop them altogether. Yet again he plays Clegg like a badly tuned piano…

    As I have kept saying, Labour’s bluff should have been called, they may very well have shied away from supporting the reforms even then but they would have been the losers.

  • Well, come the autumn this will come up again for an actual vote this time, unless we end up getting fobbed off with Cameron’s, er, alternative of replacing the hereditary remnant with a democratic token. Or worse, Lord Steel’s meaningless request for a voluntary retirement age…

    Regardless, you are right in that we now have very little left to lose on this front, so we might just as well hang on till autumn, offer that compromise with Labour and hope the fallout hits them and the Tories when, note I say when and not if, it turns out that they’ve both planned to shaft us.

  • Robert Carruthers 12th Jul '12 - 8:18am

    @ Steve Way

    Suggesting we should “compromise” with Labour and go for a referendum is frankly naive beyond belief. A referendum would merely allow a re-run of the AV catastrophe, namely Miliband would murmur vague support while Labour voters would flock, along with Tories, to deliver another kicking to the Lib Dems. It is simply unbelievable that party members could fall once again for such a trap.

    There is no way Clegg should offer ANY compromise at all on this. It’s all (which should include our first choice of STV, not open list PR) or nothing and if it’s the latter, tell the Tories to go hang on boundary changes. Any dilution of Lords reform measures is simply not acceptable. Absolutely NO CONCESSIONS, please Nick.

  • jenny barnes 12th Jul '12 - 8:38am
  • @Robert Carruthers
    It cannot pass without Labour support, one of the Tory rebels is my MP and if his stance is shared by the rest then we may as well give up. If Clegg pushes too hard the coalition would fail and the consequences of that could be virtual wipe out.

    What concerns me is the often repeated view on this site that Lib Dems cannot compromise with Labour. The truth is both parties are out to beat the Lib Dems, if they didn’t feel that way it would be strange. If there is to be any future for third party, and in the medium term therefore coalition, politics then at times everyone will need to pinch their noses.

    In effect the view of some seems to be that only a coalition with Tories can be countenanced, for me that stance would spell electoral disaster as those voters to the right may as well vote Tory, and those to the Left will feel their vote is wasted. No party can win purely on its core / membership vote and an equidistant stance allowing occasional working with whoever gives most chance to achieve Liberal goals should be the only way ahead.

    On this matter a referendum deal with Labour is the only way to get to a reasonable outcome. If we are so convinced it will be lost then I would question the democratic legitimacy of trying to implement it anyway. My belief is it will be won, equating it with AV, a system the ERS denigrated on their own website prior to the campaign, is totally wrong.

    At the time even those who had sympathy felt betrayed over the speed at which promises we’re broken (after the no more broken promises campaign theme). Labour were always fairly evenly split over the issue and the Tories were hugely against it. With Lords reform the Tories are evenly split, Labour are 70:30 in favour and all three party leaders would have to push for a yes vote. Millibland would have to champion a referendum he pushed for, losing it would hit his credibility. Losing AV cost him no political capital at all.

  • Robert Carruthers12th Jul ’12 – 8:18am……………………….Suggesting we should “compromise” with Labour and go for a referendum is frankly naive beyond belief. A referendum would merely allow a re-run of the AV catastrophe, namely Miliband would murmur vague support while Labour voters would flock, along with Tories, to deliver another kicking to the Lib Dems. It is simply unbelievable that party members could fall once again for such a trap…………….

    The parliamentary Labour party have promised to back Lords’ reform in a referendum! If the country (not just your obsession with Labour voters) vote ‘NO’ that’s democracy!

    …………………………There is no way Clegg should offer ANY compromise at all on this. It’s all (which should include our first choice of STV, not open list PR) or nothing and if it’s the latter, tell the Tories to go hang on boundary changes. Any dilution of Lords reform measures is simply not acceptable. Absolutely NO CONCESSIONS, please Nick……………….

    So ‘Yah, Boo, Sucks’. What a way to run a party.(BTW, such actions will please Labour no end)

  • Robert Carruthers 12th Jul '12 - 10:42am

    @ Steve Way

    “On this matter a referendum deal with Labour is the only way to get to a reasonable outcome.”

    Do you seriously for one moment think there is any chance whatsoever of there being a proper debate followed by people voting on the merits of Lords reform alone? Do you really?

    Another referendum would not only be expensive, it would result in failure and a what is more a failure that would block Lords reform for decades.

  • Robert Carruthers 12th Jul '12 - 10:50am

    @ Jason

    “The parliamentary Labour party have promised to back Lords’ reform in a referendum! If the country (not just your obsession with Labour voters) vote ‘NO’ that’s democracy!”

    We all know very well what Labour party “backing” resulted in in the AV vote, don’t we?

    All three parties had democratic reform of the Lords in their manifestos, so a referendum would both be expensive and unnecessary.

    Tory and Labour voters would ignore the arguments. The no campaign would be funded by rich Tories and covertly supported by Labour tribalists. The one hundred percent certain result would be no reform. A referendum would degenerate into a big party bullying exercise like the AV vote.

    A referendum is simply not an option and Labour know it, which is why they are cynically suggesting it as another way to betray the cause of democratic reform for their own short term party advantage. The only surprise is that there are people commenting here who are falling for it.

  • Maybe we should force the politicians to hold public talks on this – seeing as they all claim to want reform but duplicitously ensure it is blocked. In this parliament Labour will continue to be snake in the grass unless they can be pinned down.

  • @Robert Carruthers
    “do you seriously for one moment think there is any chance whatsoever of there being a proper debate followed by people voting on the merits of Lords reform alone? Do you really?”

    Only if there is a program motion and that cannot be delivered without Labour, that is just a simple fact. As for the referendum, read the Labour manifesto, for once they are being consistent. Also read the coalition agreement, it gives the Tories all the wriggle room they need, it only commits them to forming a committee and that is sloppy drafting by Laws et al. A committee was established and it recommended a referendum, Tory rebels are stating publicly they want one.

    If Clegg holds out for the Cameron to convince the Tory rebels the reforms may as well not happen as they will be so weak. He has one play that makes any sense. If he calls Labours bluff he may win Lords reform but even if he doesn’t he wins politically as they will be shown to have been inconsistent. Don’t forget this will also pile pressure on Cameron as he will be weakened and know that Lib Dems may rebel over other issues if he does not bring his parties full support.

    I know you feel Labour have a history of shafting the Lib Dems, and that can’t be argued against. But after tuition fees, Welfare, the NHS etc etc do you really want to leave all your eggs in Cameron’s basket ? At this rate it won’t matter because there will be no MP’s or elected Senators to take the Lib Dem Whip. Surely it needs to be remembered that neither parties are friends and both want the Liberal centre silenced.

    Deals with the devil have been made every day in this coalition, Clegg needs to pinch his nose and do one in a different direction. At the moment the only loser is Clegg.

  • ……………………A referendum is simply not an option and Labour know it, which is why they are cynically suggesting it as another way to betray the cause of democratic reform for their own short term party advantage. The only surprise is that there are people commenting here who are falling for it……………..

    Well, it was in their manifesto, so they can hardly be accused of ‘cynically’ suddenly coming up with the idea. They also have a history of trying to abolish/reform the HoL.
    Your, and our leaders’ stance, mirrors the failure to reform the HoL in 1968. Wilson wanted reform, but ‘lefties’ wouldn’t compromise and voted with the Tory ‘right’; result? neither reform nor abolition.

  • Can those people on here who keep saying that a referendum is just not an option explain exactly why, and stop parroting the line that Labour somehow can pull a lever and their frenetic supporters will all roll out and vote against reform.

    Given the almost universal agreeement that the Yes AV campaign was a disaster comparing that result with a vote on House of Lords reform is just head in the sand politics. It might make people feel better to blast Labour over this but it doesn’t achieve anything. It reminds me of the YES AV campaign saying that all MP’s were just lazy buggers – thereby alienating most of them.

    We need some grown up politics here, and putting Laws up as an example of how to handle the situation hardly gives me cause for hope.

  • @Peebee

    Its not the fear that Labour can pull a lever and turn their supporters against reform. Its the very real probability that Labour cannot persuade their to supporters resist another chance to give the coalition another kick at the cost of real, needed reform.

    Looking at how the situation is unfolding, its starting to seem like making this compromise is the only option left, but it won’t deliver reform. I fear the best we can hope for as a result of such a deal is the blame for failure landing somewhere else.

  • Simon Bamonte 12th Jul '12 - 5:17pm

    @Robert Carruthers : “A referendum is simply not an option and Labour know it, which is why they are cynically suggesting it as another way to betray the cause of democratic reform for their own short term party advantage. The only surprise is that there are people commenting here who are falling for it.”

    What is surprising to people like me is that we have people such as yourself arguing against letting the electorate have a say in such an important issue. We have the word “democrats” in our name and yet we have LibDems arguing against giving the people a democratic vote on such a huge issue! If you and the party don’t want a referendum because you are afraid of losing, well, that makes you seem even more anti-democratic and verges into treating the electorate with contempt. We’re democrats: we should never be afraid of putting something like major constitutional change to the public.

    As for Labour “suggesting” a referendum, how many times does it need to be said that it was in their 2010 manifesto? I know keeping our manifesto promises isn’t OUR strong suit (and neither, really is it Labour’s), but at least they’re being consistent on this.

  • From Stephen Williams Blog…

    “Some pro reform Labour MPs that I have spoken to say that their price is a referendum. I’m not afraid of a referendum – the case for an elected second chamber is much easier to make than the case for AV in the Commons. But if they want a referendum, we need to be clear that they are going to throw their weight behind a Yes campaign.”

    Someone in the Parliamentary Party is starting to make sense…

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