The Lords will stay, unlike Clegg
What costs £2.9 million and yet is utterly worthless?
Nick Clegg’s signature.
The £2.9 million is the amount donations to his party have fallen by in a single year. The Lib Dems got just £1.7 million in donations last year, and lost 25% of their members.
Now to justify the worthless comment I cite two things you’ll find Clegg’s signature on. One is the infamous promise that the Lib Dems would abolish tuition fees which turned out to be the first thing to go in the coalition scramble after the last election.
The other was the coalition agreement. Section 23 links the boundary review to the AV referendum, not the Lords reform. Clegg can say what he likes, for the second time, his name on a piece of paper proves his word is no good.
Now when we consider that England’s smallest constituency holds just over 55,000 voters, Wirral West, and Wales’ holds just over 41,000, whilst the largest on the mainland holds over 91,000, you can see reform is pretty justifiable. Comparing Island constituencies such as the Isle of Wight with more than 110,000 voters with Na h-Eileanan an Iar with just over 21,000 voters produces an even more absurd contrast, although special cases are made for constituencies isolated by the sea.
Compare that with the Lords reform plan which didn’t have support from many who are notionally in favour of some sort of reform. In any case, boundary changes are a standard part of our democracy, and frequently come along, to make sure every MP represents as equal a number of constituents as possible.
In the spin the Lib Dems frantically tried to stick on their breach of promise it came out that a higher % of Lib Dem MPs rebelled on tuition fees than Conservatives rebelled on the Lords. That the Lords rebellion led to what may be the day the coalition died makes Clegg and co look rather hypocritical.
There’s been much talk of a Lib-Lab pact at the next election. The problem for the Lib Dems now is that no one in Labour will entertain that idea. Clegg has shown that in power he behaves more like a toddler demanding his own way than the Statesman he was hoped to be during the debates on television two years ago.
Coalitions, by virtue of their rarity, had a good name in Britain: memory of all politicians working together to beat Hitler is a big part of political folklore. The talk was that the deficit was a big enough foe to keep the political nonsense out.
Now though many in the Conservative and Labour party have seen that working with the Lib Dems is not the way to good government. They will now want to avoid a coalition again like the plague. This means that the Lib Dems might ditch Clegg, putting in Vince Cable to replace him, to get a fresh start. That would cheer up their left wing, but many have already gone from Lib Dem ranks. Or they will carry on, nobly but tragically to the land of parties time forgot.
Ironically Nick Clegg is now behaving rather like the Lords back in the days of the last Liberal government, throwing out anything that threatens his weakening grasp on influence.
Clegg made what may well have been the announcement that killed his career on Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s birthday. In his poem “The Third of February 1852”, about a speech in the House of Lords, he wrote words that could well ring around parliament against Clegg:
“Shall we fear him? our own we never fear’d”