Political

Lib Dems: We will defeat the Government in the House of Lords

Lib Dems: We will defeat the Government in the House of Lords

One of the Liberal Democrats’ most senior figures has boasted the party can defeat the government at will in the House of Lords and may “misbehave” by repeatedly changing laws to provoke reform.

Lord Newby, the party’s chief whip in the Lords, said the Lib Dems could force through “umpteen” changes to laws every day despite having just eight MPs because there are so few Tory peers.

He also pledged to join with Labour and give 16- and 17-year-olds a vote in the EU referendum despite the proposal being defeated in the House of Commons just weeks ago. [Daily Telegraph]

Of course, if you are a reader of Liberal Democrat Newswire you had this story over a week ago, for I wrote in Liberal Democrat Newswire #71:

It isn’t only within the party that the [choice of] new Liberal Democrat peers have provoked controversy. People who are usually staunch opponents of reform and defenders of First Past The Post have suddenly become converts to PR, arguing that there are too many Liberal Democrat peers given the party’s share of the vote in May. To which the obvious response is, well you had the chance to change the rules when the Lib Dems put Lords reform to Parliament…

But this is a controversy likely to grow given the increasingly militant noises from the Lib Dem peers, not just wayward individuals but in the leadership too, saying that past conventions of the Lords not opposing the main policies of a government do not necessarily apply when the government is elected on well under 40% of the vote.

This isn’t a militancy that is going down well with Conservatives – nor with small c conservative House of Lords authorities – but it is a win-win for Liberal Democrats. Either their militancy stops government policies or it triggers Lords reform.

Either is a win and with staunch opponent of the Lords Jeremy Corbyn likely to become Labour leader, Lib Dem peers may well find themselves joined in such militancy by Labour colleagues who currently are instead being rather cautious in what they choose to oppose for fear of what Tory peers might do in return under a future Labour government.

As an aside, the mention of Corbyn prompts one piece of praise that is due Nick Clegg: Labour currently demonstrates the problems when you have a series of party leaders who spend their time damaging careers of would-be successors in order to hold on to power. That Clegg did not do the same to Farron is a welcome legacy.

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