No doubt by now you’ll have read that House of Lords Reform has been ‘paused’ to use Nick Clegg’s terminology. Also as part of this the Lib Dems will not be backing the boundary review. It is a bit tit for tat but I suppose that is part of coalition politics. To read Nick Clegg’s statement in full you can do so here.
So anyway what did I read from his statement? Well mostly that Nick Clegg despite what every single Labour supporter says with such vindication – Nick Clegg isn’t actually a Tory. I know it’s hard to swallow and that these people may have to grow up and actually work on things like policies instead of lazy political insults but if Clegg was actually a Tory he wouldn’t do things that you know – the Tories don’t want him to do. It is like he is the leader of another party. Wait a minute…
Yes Clegg has gone a bit tit for tat but the important thing is he has clearly said the the Tories are the one that have broken the coalition agreement – and he is right. This is something that we can’t use enough on the front line. The Lib Dems entered into a coalition in the national interest and both sides signed off on the coalition agreement. However the Tories have decided that they don’t like something therefore won’t follow through with it despite saying that they would. Naughty, naughty…
Also another thing has come out of this. The Lib Dem leader can control his party whereas his Tory counterpart could not. I don’t think this is something that should be overlooked. Cameron was fully behind House of Lords Reform and he was unable to get enough of his backbench MPs to back the idea. They didn’t want change and dug their heels in and that was that.
Nick Clegg even offered a referendum on Lords Reform on election day in 2015. This would have minimised the cost and done what a lot of people wanted in letting the people decide of these proposals but that wasn’t accepted.
Now I back House of Lords Reform but I must say as written these proposals weren’t exactly screaming out to me. I didn’t think it was the greatest bill ever to be put in front of parliament but there was room to make adjustments to it. The thing was the backbench Tories were just never going to go for it – in any guise – and that left the bill dead in the water. All parties kinda want House of Lords Reform but the big two know that any changes might loosen their traditional power and as everyone has said many times before – Turkey’s don’t vote for Christmas.
Things brings us on to boundary changes. I actually back the idea of boundary changes in principle. I do think that MPs should represent roughly equal amount of constituents. However I also note that places like the Isle of Wight cannot be tacked on to Portsmouth or the New Forest. Here in Southend for example the boundary review would have taken Leigh and West Leigh away from Southend on a parliamentary level but those wards would still be part of Southend Council. Madness. So the boundary review wasn’t perfect but a good idea in principle but there were genuine issues. A bit like the House of Lords Reform Bill I suppose.
So now neither of these are going through at this juncture and as presently constituted. I’m not distraught over either. I want both but both have too many issues for me as it stands. However I am happy that Nick Clegg has both found his dangly bits between his legs and not laid over and let the Tories blow raspberries on his tummy. I am lso happy that he is not considering leaving the coalition over the issue. He (and the party) remain committed to the coalition and when all is said and done the Lib Dems 2015 result is related to the economy. Leaving the coalition now with the economy not flourishing would be a suicidal move. The old adage that Bill Clinton’s team reiterated many a time to Bill was ‘it’s the economy stupid’ and that was true in 1992 and it is still true in 2012.
People will not vote en masse in 2015 over whether boundary changes got through or whether the House of Lords are reformed or not. In general people care about the economy, public services and taxes. That is the bread and butter of people’s lives – everything else is just filling.
The coalition can survive and I fully expect the Lib Dems to continue to try and make it work. As for whether the Tories will I do not know but even though publicly it may look like the Lib Dems were defeated on this, it should also show that they won’t be walked over. If the Tories don’t want something then they can stamp their feet and beat their chests and it won’t become law. However if the Lib Dems don’t want something then they can do that as well – we have finally realised this. It may be too late for many people but better late than never.
Being in coalition was never going to be easy and at times we have been naive in the extreme. However we are learning fast and politics as we all sadly know isn’t all sweetness and light. So many people are in parliament are stuck in their ways and doing things differently will take time – a lot of time. Slowly the Lib Dems are wising up and hopefully this event has shown that they can stand up to the Tories on an issue and they can be as stubborn as their coalition partners and if they do – they can’t be beaten.
In 2010 the Tories didn’t win the General Election. Some of their MPs should remember this. Those pesky Lib Dems are the reason you get anything through in parliament at all. That is the way it is and without the Lib Dems then nothing happens. When the backbench MPs realise this then everything will be hunk-a-dory. Until that happens though stalemate can happen. Nick Clegg has showed that he won’t be walked over and do everything the Tories want and whilst House of Lords Reform being paused hurts, the fact that Nick Clegg showed he has a pair of bollocks softens the blow – a lot.
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