I was listening to the podcast of last week's Radio 4's Week in Westminster the other day and I was somewhat taken aback by the candour of Conservative backbencher Andrew Turner when he was questioned by Fraser Nelson about Lords reform:
Fraser Nelson: Andrew, as far as you're concerned the House of Lords thing was intended as a fudge. To bring forward proposals and then to drop them. So it was intended as a fig leaf to the Lib Dems but not to do any more and that is as far as your understanding what David Cameron intended all along?
Andrew Turner: I'm sure it isn't what David Cameron intended but I would certainly read it that way and I can understand why many others can read it that way.
This is pretty shameless stuff. He is saying that he and a substantial proportion of his colleagues viewed their manifesto commitment on Lords reform as a sop to Lib Dems in case of a hung parliment but that they never actually intended to do anything about it. What is the point of manifestos if they are simply going to be used as a political tool like this?*
It was also very telling that at the start of the interview, Turner also said that he didn't consider himself and his colleagues who are planning to vote against the reform bill rebels. When pressed on this in the end he did concede the point but he clearly thinks that he is representing the "true view" of the Tories on this.
I have to ask, if Andrew Turner feels so strongly about this, why did he stand as a Conservative candidate at the last election at all? There was nothing stopping him joining another party or even standing as an independent "Tories for unelected privilege" candidate.
*I am well aware that there will be some thinking it's a bit rich for me to be talking about sticking to manifesto commitments when the Lib Dems have gone back on a number of theirs but they had to compromise to form a coalition. Lords reform was in both manifestos. No compromise on this was needed!