Monday, 17 May 2010

Those peerless Libdems in full

Never again could anybody ever complain if asked to name ten famous Belgians now that Nick Clegg and David Cameron plan to pack the House of Lords with ninety-six new Liberal Democrat Peers.

Once you've put Lembit, Brian Paddick and Olly Grender in, you only need to think of another ninety-three and you're done!

The Ermine is going to stretch all the way from Cowley Street to Parliament.

James Graham has even published the party's official longlist - though its now not nearly long enough - and, kudos to him, he sticks consistently to the view that appointing Peers stinks.

But the other doughty democrats of the LibDem blogosphere are getting stuck in with their suggestions, even if they had not been preparing assiduously for patronage with the confidence of ConservativeHome and Iain Dale.

But I really don't understand Mark Reckons' approach in trying to nominate possible peers one by one - beginning with Sue Doughty, MP for Guildford from 2001 to 2005.

Surely, Mark, it would be much quicker for us all to simply nominate any LibDems who should not be ennobled?

And what a happy day for those LibDem supporters who Richard Reeves gathered to storm the ramparts of the Guardian letters page: arise Baron Reeves of Blue Sky, Lord Kampfner of Stamford Bridge, Lady Alibhai-Brown and all of their friends.

Surely Guido Fawkes, who can point to services rendered to the SDP youth wing, must be kicking himself at not having joined up.

***

I haven't seen anybody mention the real rationale for the suggestion in the Coalition Agreement.

It is difficult to see why there is any great difficulty for the government.

The Coalition already has 260 peers, compared to 211 for the outgoing government.

And who would put it past the Coalition, on current form, to invoke the Salisbury Convention for any proposal that was in either party's manifesto, so seeking to tie Labour's hands. (The LibDems, incidentally, reject that Convention and believe the Lords too should now vote down whatever it disagrees with. Can it be just months since LibDem bloggers were asking whether this would make Labour's peers Mr Cameron's Poodles after this election?)

But the Coalition can't entirely rely on the current LibDem Peers. Many are the first generation of SDP Social Democrats or Liberals from much earlier on the long march.

They are not going to wreck the government which their party has entered into in good faith. But though Cameron and Clegg can put Jim Callaghan's former aide Lord McNally into Ministerial office, they have little sanction to push Shirley Williams, Bill Rodgers and colleagues to push through controversial measures, such as the new constitutional gerrymander of the week, in the name of the New Politics.

4 comments:

Matthew said...

I wouldn't put it past them to invoke the Salisbury Convention on the coalition agreement itself. Hell, why not?

Sunder Katwala said...

good point.

Simon said...

There is an easy alternative to the Coalition proposals.

Instead of creating new peers, just ask the Labour Party to put forward a list of their peers who will agree not to sit in the House of Lords anymore.

Such a solution has the same effect but also the added benefit of being very cost effective and lessens the numbers that will have to be culled when / if an elected 2nd chamber kicks in.

Surely given Labour's longstanding commitment to Lords reform they'd only be too happy to agree to this :)

Mandleson gone......
Falconer gone.....
Martin gone.....

Ian Chapman said...

I haven't done the maths but surely this huge increase (albeit possibly temporary) in the number of Peers will increase the cost of Government to such an extent that Cameron's much publicised 5% ministerial pay cut and other proposed measures to 'streamline' Government will be made redundant?