Thursday, March 11, 2010

Tom Strathclyde - so much for democracy then...

It is rumoured that, in the event of a Conservative victory at the General Election, Lord Strathclyde, Leader of the Conservatives in the Lords, has let slip that there will be one hundred new Conservative Peers nominated so as to ensure a working majority over the other two political groupings. Whilst I'm not the least bit surprised by this cynical approach, it does have some pretty serious implications.

Ironically, the past thirteen years have seen the House of Lords pass from having an overwhelming Conservative majority to being effectively hung, with the removal of all but ninety-two hereditaries, and the creation of a number of Labour and Liberal Democrat Peers sufficient to give the Government the greater number of votes but not enough to ensure a majority without having to persuade either the crossbenchers or the Liberal Democrats to support them.

As a result, much of the more gruesomely repressive legislation has been either defeated or beneficially altered by means of amendments or, in some cases, by the threat of defeat. If Lord Strathclyde's rumoured comments are to be believed, the Conservatives either don't see the need for collaboration, or feel that it is simply easier to ram through legislation without proper scrutiny in the Second Chamber.

Given the willingness of MPs to be whipped, this would effectively silence opposition voices, as they would only be able to delay or amend unsatisfactory legislation if allowed to do so by the Government's business managers. You can't help but suspect that, if you're planning to stiff the place with new Peers, you aren't planning to encourage dissent.

For those of us who believe in an elected second chamber, such cynicism on the part of the wannabes of the Conservative Party provides more evidence that, whilst the label on the tin might be shiny and gentle, the contents are still as unpleasant as ever.

Unless, of course, Mr Cameron knows different. Any thoughts on a guarantee of legislation creating an elected second chamber, Dave?

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