Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Promises, promises

I don’t know when the Labour Party first adopted a policy of reforming the House of Lords, but it sounds like one of those things that has ‘always’ been policy.  I can certainly remember many Labour leaders talking about it when in opposition, even if ‘it’ hasn’t always meant exactly the same thing.  But they’ve never got around to actually doing anything about it when in government.  It’s one of those things that are just ‘too difficult’, although the euphemism usually adopted is that ‘there are more important priorities’.
So Ed Miliband’s statement that a Labour government led by him would actually do something needs to be read in the historical context, and is probably not worth a great deal as promises go.  Besides, at this stage his suggestion of it becoming some sort of Senate with regionally-elected representatives has not been thought through a great deal – apparently that’s to be left to the constitutional convention that he plans to establish.  Giving them a few years – perhaps the whole term of a parliament – is enough to sound like a commitment to radical reform whilst leaving Miliband with a cunning ruse to kick the issue immediately into the long grass.
It raises a question, though, about the purpose of the constitutional convention itself.  Slowly but surely, he’s announcing all the decisions in principle before it’s even established – the second chamber will be retained with similar functions, but with the method of election to be determined; there will be more power delegated to cities; there will not be two or more different classes of MP; the list grows.
Setting up a convention to carry out a thorough review of the constitution sounds like a radical idea, but it increasingly looks like it’s going to be little more than a means of getting someone else to put the flesh on the bones of an already determined Labour policy.
Still, sounding radical whilst delaying action is a familiar approach.  It’s been successfully deployed by many of his predecessors, so why wouldn’t it work for him too?  I suspect that their lordships will still be around for a few more decades yet, sadly.

1 comment:

G Horton-Jones said...


The House of Lords is an old chestnut for traditional Labour voters who are becoming rarer than hens teeth.

They, Milliband and The House of Lords are being slowly written out of History as we blog -only the times spans to their total demise differ

Far more interesting is the emergence of political change in England

Is the Senate to be the New Westminster and are the regionally elected representatives to be the Mayors of the Hs1,2,3 rail hubs of New England