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Saturday, May 07, 2011

Cameron must honour coalition agreement

This morning's Independent reports that the Prime Minister will not support Nick Clegg to force through Liberal Democrat plans to create an elected House of Lords, despite a commitment to reform in the Coalition agreement to do so.

They say Mr Cameron has "no intention" of allowing Lords reform to become "his Hunting Act" and he will not throw his party's weight behind it. He is also not prepared to "clog up" the rest of the Government's legislative agenda by protracted debate on Lords reform:

His hardline position is difficult for Mr Clegg as further constitutional reform was a key part of the Coalition agreement. Liberal Democrats took solace from the pledge to reform the Lords as it became obvious they were losing the AV referendum. Liberal Democrat deputy leader Simon Hughes said yesterday: "Lords reform is a done deal – that was part of the coalition agreement."

But the Tories say the Coalition agreement only commits them to "establish a committee" on reforming the House of Lords and not to pass legislation on it. Mr Clegg is due to unveil a draft House of Lords Reform Bill in the next few weeks. Mr Cameron will offer warm words to the principle of Lords reform and promise his support for "reaching a consensus on reform" of the second chamber. But behind the scenes Conservative strategists are not prepared to spend political capital on House of Lords reform.

"We're hoping that Clegg's draft bill is so good that it doesn't need to become an act," said one.

With the proposals almost certain to be opposed by many Labour, Conservative and independent peers the measure would require the Government to push it through using the Parliament Act. Tory sources say there are "no circumstances" in which Mr Cameron would use the act – which allows Governments to overrule a vote in the House of Lords.

If this is true then it will turn a mature and sensible coalition agreement into a travesty. I would certainly reconsider my support for it and I would hope that many MPs would do likewise. It may not be enough to force the break-up of the coalition but it should certainly be enough for Liberal Democrat MPs to consider withdrawing their support for controversial Conservative legislation in defiance of the whip.

Cameron should stick to the spirit of the agreement he signed.
Let's face it, if the Yes side had won the AV vote this week, the Indy would have reported Cameron telling Clegg: "You've got what you want out of the agreement now, we don't need to make any more concessions."
But does the coalition agreement say a committee will be established, or that some specific reform will definitely happen?

If it's the former, Cameron WILL be following the coalition agreement.

If you don't like that (and I wouldn't, as I want a democratic house of lords) you only have yourselves to blame for signing up to an agreement that you aren't happy with.

This will not be the first, or last, issue where you realise your negotiations were terrible. Perhaps you should have thought about it more... many said at the time you got a very poor deal. It is looking increasingly true.
I don't blame David Cameron; there was a huge No vote which he can use and say that the people of Britain don't want reform. The Lib Dems have no threats as they had an awful night in Scotland, just one constituency in Wales and terrible council results. The Lib Dems will now just grin and bear it.

The lesson?: be careful in 'propping up' a Government. Thats what the LD have done, that's what Plaid have done.... and they've paid.

That is why, if there is a glimmer possibility of getting a rainbow coalition then we should go for it. Fairer sharing of policies, a rotating F.M. Otherwise if LD or Plaid prop up Labour we'll get more of the same, pay for it later. And also it's silly as both Kirsty and Ieu have slagged off Labour!. But if you're in it for the jobs as I think one prominent L.D is, then you will prop them up.

In terms of coalition talks I hear that STV in Local Councils is top of the list. I don't think you'll get it as Labour aren't budging. But if you are to do it, then please reduce no of councillors and councils SUBSTANTIALLY. As in most areas, STV will mean nothing as there are only two candidate... if you're lucky!.

My only warning to Welsh Lib Dems, is as you see in your blog post. Be careful when propping up a party.

BTW: Tavis Scott has congratulated Kirsty on forming a coalition with Labour- is there any truth in this?
...I know this is totally unrelated. But I was wondering what you think the implications of the SNP is to Wales.
Do you think we will get blocks of powers (following our Referendum). Or even tax?.

I found it odd, that ONLY labour stated they did not want income tax to be different in Wales. I'm assuming this allows the door open for other taxes?
Chris Wood PhD wrote:

Ken Clark supports an elected Upper House. I happen to think Cameron is keen on concentrating power in his government. Look at how Cameron has undermined the 1922 Committee. He doesn't want an elected Upper House because this will give more power to an Upper House with members elected by the people.
This shows the Lib Dems have no real input or control over coalition policies. Thursdays elections should be a wake up call for the Lib Dems. If they don't start atamping down control on the coalition, they will be in for a real roasting come the next general election.
It shows no such thing. The coalition is dominated by Liberal Democrat policies as I have evidenced before. What it shows is that there is a process of negotiation as to how the agrewement is interpreted, which so far the Liberal Democrats have come out on top from.
Jake wrote- "The lesson?: be careful in 'propping up' a Government. Thats what the LD have done, that's what Plaid have done.... and they've paid. "

The crucial difference though is Plaid won the referendum they got for propping up Labour. The Lib Dems lost the referendum they got for propping up the Tories.

The referendum win in Wales has opened up new areas for devolution of further powers. A defeat would have slammed the door and possibly put devolution in reverse.

Was it a price worth paying for Plaid? You bet.
First, well done Peter for saving your bacon. But the AV result is devastating for the party. The Tory 'Nasty' Party played a blinder; the coalition is a one-sided farce. If Clegg & Co. had any other aim than survival in office they would bail out now. LibDem-ery is dead, knifed by stupidity, opportunism and the freshly re-toxified tories.
I for one am tearing up my LibDem party card -- a sad end to 30 years of activism.
Umm, I know it's sort of trendy to write obits for the LDs right now (just as it it to repeat the 'toxic' smear ad nauseum) .... but:

15% vote share, only 1 AM fewer in Wales, and missing out in Cardiff Central by just 28 votes doesn't seem that bad in historic terms?
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