RUNNING FAST TO STAND STILL
9 August 2012
I was unengaged by the Tory Libdem three proposals for constitutional reform: a change in the voting system, equal sized constituencies, and changes to the House of Lords.
I would probably have supported a decent proportional voting system but the AV put forward struck me as a “miserable little compromise” as Nick Clegg called it before campaigning for it.
The proposed changes to the Lords are half-hearted; still a fifth appointed not elected; fifteen year terms of membership; still Anglican bishops sitting there. I think more work has to be done to sort out the relationship between the two houses, who gets the final decision and what are the purposes and powers of the other house.
I support equal sized constituencies within sensible parameters and a much smaller House of Commons though the present interlinked proposals are a Tory calculation of what is of maximal benefit to them. I was unconvinced by the opposition to Devonwall; it seemed to me to be about asserting a political view of Cornwall that looked to the past and disregarded the present in which there is daily cross-Tamar life such as living in Cornwall and working in Devon and going to hospital in Devon, and housing payments based on data from both sides of the river, none of which diminishes Cornwall. I set out in the post Devonwall revisted what seemed to be the limited extent of public support for the campaigns against Devonwall.
Of the three reforms, AV and House of Lords are done for. There remains perhaps equal sizing and Devonwall. Clegg said there is no connection between Lords reform and equal sizing (Political and constitutional committee 19 April 2012, Questions 177-179); but the Libdems have now resolved that the killing of the former by Tories means the killing of the latter by Libdems. The Tories will press on with equal sizing apparently and most probably be defeated on that as Labour will not vote to lose its unfair advantage in the present unequal arrangements but vote with the Libdems against equal sizing.
A lot of work, a lot of words, and no changes.
“Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!” The Queen in chapter 2 of Through the looking glass by Lewis Carroll.