This doesn’t have to be the end for Lords Reform
Author: Zoe Stavri
Published on Aug 03, 2012
Westminster gossip suggests that David Cameron looks set to drop reforms to the House of Lords. If there is substance to this, there are likely to be repercussions for the coalition, as the reform was a key part of the deal struck between Tories and Lib Dems. Indeed, a senior Lib Dem is threatening consequences if the plans are shelved.
As it stands, much of the focus is on David Cameron and Nick Clegg. Clegg is a vocal proponent of Lords reform, and it has been suggested that he may turn his fire on Conservative policy to reduce the number of MPs as revenge. Meanwhile, Cameron appears to be stuck between honouring the coalition agreement and appeasing opposition to Lords reform within his own party. Both party leaders are embroiled in a difficult situation, and it looks like Cameron might want to drop the plans to end the torment.
Lost in this noise is a crucial third player: Ed Miliband. Throughout the whole affair, Miliband has remained fairly quiet, despite personally supporting Lords reform. This is something of a surprise, given that in this situation, Miliband has the strongest hand. The decisions Ed Miliband makes can decide whether Lords reform happens or not.
Throwing his support behind Lords reform would have desirable consequences for Miliband and the Labour Party. First, pushing for reform now means that it saves Labour the job of having to work on the reforms if they return to power.
Second, Miliband can, if he chooses, be sadistic. It’s an ugly situation for Tories and Lib Dems alike, and stopping the shelving of Lords reform could increase tensions between the coalition partners,and within the Conservative party. Rather than put the coalition out of its misery, Ed Miliband has the power to prolong the agony.
As it stands, Miliband is wary about throwing support behind a coalition policy, and is carefully hiding the fact that it is down to him whether Lords reform goes through. If he has the courage to change course, though, there is still hope for Lords reform.