Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Cameron renages on his Lords proportionality promise to spite UKIP

I don't like Nigel Farage. I don't like his attitude or his approach to things. I don't care for many of his party's policies especially the twin planks of leaving the EU come what may and blaming everything on immigration.

However I am also a democrat. It is shocking that at the recent general election UKIP got 13% of the vote and 0.15% of the seats in the Commons. Absolutely shocking. That is the sort of disparity that the First Past the Post system can throw up as we all know.

But not to fear. We knew that Cameron would at least try to redress the balance in parliament somewhat through Lords appointments wouldn't he? Because during the last parliament he told us that until the Lords was properly reformed to be largely or wholly elected appointments would be made to create a chamber reflective of the votes cast at the most recent general election. Look, it was in his first programme for government in 2010:

In the interim, lords appointments will be made with the objective of creating a second chamber reflective of the share of the vote secured by the political parties in the last general election.

So presumably Cameron will have appointed some UKIP peers today in his latest honours? For proper proportionality there would need to be about 100 of them but to be fair we couldn't have expected him to do it that quickly. He's appointed 45 today. So how many of them are UKIP? 15? 10? 5? Surely 3 or 4 of them?

None. Zero. Zip. Zilch.

This is a flagrant renaging on a political promise. And it was an important promise. Because everyone knows the Commons is not proportional. But Cameron assured us he would redress this in the second chamber. And he has gone back on his word.

It seems pretty obvious to me why he has done this. He hates Nigel Farage. And he hates UKIP. He is worried what they would do with a decent tranche of peers. So out of malice, spite and political cowardice he is not going to appoint any of them to the upper chamber.

With a slick turn of phrase Cameron recently made a statement on this subject that sounds very similar to his promise in 2010:

It is important the House of Lords in some way reflects the situation in the House of Commons. At the moment it is well away from that. I’m not proposing to get there in one go. [But] it is important to make sure the House of Lords more accurately reflects the situation in the House of Commons. That’s been the position with prime ministers for a very, very long time and for very good and fair reason.

He has subtly changed his wording to say the Lords should now reflect the "situation" in the Commons rather than the "votes" for the Commons. That almost seems like a semantic distinction at first glance but it makes all the difference in the world. Because the "situation" in the Commons is a result of the FPTP system which as we know gave UKIP 1 seat when they should have had 82 of them. And Cameron is now trying to use this as justification to give UKIP no extra peers. They already have 3 Lords, all of whom used to be Tories and defected.

It is also worth pointing out that Cameron is making up the rules on the fly here whilst trying to sound like he is just fitting in with what previous PMs have done. It's not true. There has never been a rule that the Lords should be reflective of the situation in the Commons as Meg Russell points out in this recent Constitution Unit post.

No it is quite clear what Cameron is doing. He is using the brute force power of patronage his position gives him to prevent UKIP from getting any more representation in the Lords. There is no justification for this so he's making up one based on a non-existent precedent.

Remember this next time he claims to be a democrat or that he is a fair man.

He is clearly neither.


Tom Mein said...

Duncan Greenland CBE: Has donated a total of £316,858.95 to the LibDems since 2004, £31,000 of which went to Clegg’s constituency.

Richard Duncalf OBE: Donated £216,000 to the party since 2007, including an individual £10,000 donation to Clegg.

Sir Anthony Ullman: Given the party £108,000 in total, including £30,000 directly to Clegg four days before he visited Ullmann’s firm in 2013.

Ian Wright CBE: Given £32,807.79 in addition to £9,000 to Clegg directly.

rob's uncle said...

'Renages' should be 'reneges'.