Promising signs as Lib Dems plan reform to system for appointing peers

Caron Lindsay’s blog post about the last Federal Executive meeting reports:

On the interim peers panel, a motion from the FE will be brought to Spring Conference in York. I can’t tell you the wording because it’s going to be redrafted taking into account the views expressed at the meeting. I think that Sue Doughty’s committee have done some excellent work on this, balancing all the views they’ve had from across the party. They’ve come up with something that should make the system more democratic and that the leader is more likely to use. I spoke in favour of wording that gave the leader slightly less wiggle room. However, Nick has shown more willing on this than any leader before him and I’m sure that he will embrace the new system once it’s up and running. I just wanted to make sure that any future leader would get the message that the party values this method of choosing our peers. I also feel that there is a very strong case for appointing a much greater proportion of women to help redress the appalling imbalances elsewhere.

The key sentence is in the middle of Caron’s report: “They’ve come up with something that should make the system more democratic and that the leader is more likely to use”.

This addresses the point I made during the consultation:

On paper, the Liberal Democrats have had a democratic system too for many years, with a panel of people elected by conference representatives from whom the party leader is then meant to select his or her appointments to the Lords, adding in one more name of their own if the wish.

In theory, because in practice none of the three party leaders since this interim peers panel system was created have been happy with going along with it, and none has diligently followed it. Any reform to it therefore needs to start from appreciating that if three leaders in a row have not been happy to use it, we should be realistic about the low odds of any future leader doing so either – and therefore reform it with an eye to what sort of reforms would make a party leader more likely to implement it and would make it harder for them to ignore it.

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