Putting The House In Order: Lords Reform Off The Menu Once Again

House of Lords Reform: A Historic Problem

Nowadays, if ever, a promise in an electoral manifesto is seldom worth the paper it is printed on.

The slow but steady inch back of the Conservative party’s assurances to their beleaguered coalition partners continued apace yesterday with the news that House of Lords reform had been postponed and the scheduled debate on reforming the upper house to half its current size with 80% of its members being elected. Despite the fact that it was one of the few consensus points between the three major political parties, House of Lords reform is more than likely to be dead in the water at least until the next election.

One of the key oppositions to it espoused by the right wing press and many of the oppositional MPs is that the coalition government should be focusing on fixing the economic situation. However, as the government are doing such a bang up job of tearing up any ‘green shoots’ of recovery to plug the drain of ‘the deficit’ and eliminating any fair or sensible approaches to education, paid employment and distribution of income with a rampant and destructive glee it may have been wise to give them a new, more positive project to focus on.

The Daily Telegraph claims that public demand for reform is lacking. However polling data released by YouGov suggests that although only 18% of those polls believed Lords reform was priority, 52% thought it was a good idea and only 20% believed the work well as it was and should be left alone.

This shows that there is a substantial if slightly lukewarm clamour for reform even if the Conservative backbenchers do not like it. One of the main oppositional points to an elected house of lords is that it become a largely an extension of the House of Commons and, according to another YouGov poll released this weekend, 64% of those polled believed that MPs were without politics or ethics. Thus the prospect of more politicians filling the upper house fills them with dread rather than optimism about the potential of democracy.
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