Kennedy and The Guardian on Lords reform

Following yesterday’s Thornsby and Ashdown on Lords reform, here is another couple of bites for today.

First Charles Kennedy:

For 100 years progressives in British politics have tried to bring democracy to one of the most important but arcane institutions in our country – the House of Lords. And for 100 years, the establishment has resisted, blocked or talked out those who argue for change at every turn. But today we have an historic opportunity to finally bring about that change – and it is in Labour’s hands…

There are only two reasons to oppose this bill: to defend the establishment and the status quo, or to give a bloody nose to the coalition generally and Nick Clegg specifically. Progressive politicians can have no truck with the former, while the latter is cynical short-termism of the most counterproductive kind.

Second, The Guardian‘s leader:

The second thing that needs to happen is to vote for a Commons timetable motion which ensures that the bill can get through all the stages of its parliamentary passage in the time available. All big constitutional bills require this kind of treatment. That is why outright opposition to programming of this kind is ultimately specious and deceitful, a tactic masquerading as a principle. The only question is whether the programme motion is a reasonable one. That is a matter of management and talking between the parties. A compromise has to be struck all the same – perhaps improvements can be made even down to the wire tonight. In the end, though, any programme motion is better than none at all.

If Labour cannot bring themselves to agree such a motion, then they are not being true to their history as a party of reform. Neither dislike of the coalition nor frustration at its proposed timetable justifies going into the lobbies with Tory MPs whose only concern – as they made clear in a torrent of reactionary interventions and speeches yesterday – is to preserve the Lords as it exists today. To vote in a way which effectively abandons the bill to filibuster and delay would be a shameful decision for Labour, with its fine record, ancient and modern, on Lords reform. Keir Hardie and Robin Cook would turn in their graves.


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