Articles

Two wrongs don’t make a right

In boundary changes, House of Lords, Lib Dems on July 16, 2012 by dadge

I’ve voted Liberal Democrat many times, and I was happy at the prospect of a Tory-Lib Dem coalition, but the party is losing all respect and the coalition is descending into farce.

For over a year, commentators have been suggesting that Lib Dems might vote against the 2013 boundary review, but I dismissed this as naive prattling. Therefore it’s with increasing dismay that I’ve started hearing the same idea coming from the horse’s mouth. I suppose this is a result of increasing frustration at the way the coalition cookie is crumbling.

Some in the party are sore at what’s happening to Lords reform (after already having suffered humiliating defeat over AV) and, from a position of extreme weakness, are looking for a way of asserting themselves. But they only have themselves to blame: the package of constitutional change they got into the coalition agreement was half-baked.

To wit: no-one really wanted AV. And we don’t want a House of Lords elected by PR that’ll be more representative than the House of Commons. We don’t want a House of Lords with 15-year terms. We don’t want a House of Lords full of party apparatchiks. And we don’t want an elected House of Lords with unelected bishops. I support the coalition but I would run a mile before voting for the bill that Nick Clegg has laid before parliament.

Menzies Campbell has been on TV saying he’s against he’s “against tit-for-tat politics” but counters this by saying that “if you’re a Lib Dem MP whose seat has been carved up as a result of the boundary proposals, then the idea that you would simply march into the lobby in support of the Conservative government’s particular anxiety to obtain this piece of legislation is one that may be very hard to swallow. I don’t believe that it will be accepted that we will simply form up in the way that some people think. I think there’ll be a lot of hard talking going on.”

It’s not hard to see what’s wrong with this line of argument. First, he’s suggesting that MPs might vote against the boundary changes for personal reasons. Second, he’s saying that the boundary changes are nothing to do with me, guv. So desperate is he to dissociate himself from the policy that he refers to the coalition as “the Conservative government”!

Don’t forget we’re not comparing like with like here. As far as the Lib Dems are concerned, the Boundary Review bird has already flown. They voted for the bill two years ago, and all that’s going on now is that an independent commission is enacting the reforms they supported. I think a judicial review is required to check that that commission is doing its job properly, but once the review is complete the job of parliament is simply to rubber-stamp the new boundaries. Anything else is politicking of the worst kind, the kind demonstrated by the Labour Party in 1969.

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