Lords reform: what the failure means for the Coalition, David Cameron and Nick Clegg

First up, here’s Nick Robinson’s take on yesterday’s events followed by myself, via the BBC News Channel:

Here also are Tim Montgomerie’s rather pungent views on David Cameron and my own on Nick Clegg, via Radio 4′s The World Tonight:

2 responses to “Lords reform: what the failure means for the Coalition, David Cameron and Nick Clegg”

  1. Why did you let her make the claim that more equal constituencies would mean every vote counts the same? Under FPTP not all votes count the same, even in equal constituencies. The question surely is not about having equalised constituencies, but the reduced number of MPs, which would certainly have lead to many more wasted votes, especially many more wasted Lib Dem votes. In the final analysis, the boundary changes would actually have increased the disproportionality of Commons elections, not increased it. And that is the opposite of making elections fairer. Having a smaller Commons with the introduction of AV would have mitigated that to some extent. But fewer constituencies while retaining FPTP is always going to produce a less democratic chamber. All the changes would have done would have been to bolster the current undemocratic duopoly, and reduce Lib Dem representation even further. For example, currently the Lib Dems have 8% of the seats, on 23% of the vote. Had the 2010 election been held on the proposed boundaries, they would have held only 7% of the seats, meaning that people who actually vote Lib Dem would have been even more under-represented than they already are!

    Equalsing constituencies is not a bad idea, but reducing the number of MPs without also introducing PR is a very bad idea indeed. Even AV would have only partially mitigated this problem.

  2. On the second interview, I think you should have made it clear that there cannot be an election, because we have fixed term parliaments. Even if the Lib Dems leave the coalition, Cameron cannot call an election. In that sense, I think you were wrong to claim that the coalition is therefore destined to run until 2015. If the coalition is dissolved, there are only two ways that Cameron can call an election. Firstly if there are two consecutive votes of no confidence in the government, or secondly, if 66% of MPs vote to dissolve Parliament. Both of those options would require Labour support. A vote of no confidence would require Lib Dems to vote with labour, and a vote to dissolve Parliament would require Labour to vote with the Tories. I don't think the Lib Dems will want to support a vote of no confidence, even if they are in opposition. And I'm sure the Conservatives won't want an early dissolution.

    Tim Farron's "exit strategy" is as plain as day then. The Lib Dems leave government just before the vote on the boundary changes, sometime in the autumn of 2013, allowing them to vote against government policy, and then join the opposition benches, giving supply and confidence to the Tories for the final 18 months or so of this parliament.

    I also think Montgomery hit the nail on the head about Cameron, he has lost an awful lot of authority within his party. It seems to me that for the typical backbench Tory MP, there is an ever decreasing chance of ever getting in to government. The way they see it, they have nothing to lose, they see Lib Dems occupying government ministries that they had hoped to occupy, and an ever increasing likelihood that the Tories will be in opposition after 2015. Many must be feeling that they will lose their seats at the next election, after all, the newest MPs are the ones who are most likely to be occupying marginal constituencies, and so are the first to lose their seats if there is a swing against the Tories. many must feel they will be single term MPs. They have little to lose, and therefore could become increasingly rebellious.

    I find this 11% claim more than a little spurious, that is only true when we look at a Swing between Labour and the Tories in isolation. That makes the assumption that the Lib Dem vote does not change. But a swing from the Lib Dems to Labour actually helps the Tories. If we assume the Lib Dems only win 10% of the vote at the next election, then even on current boundaries, the Tories need a lead of only 6% to win a majority. So the 11% claim is entirely artificial!

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