Despite last night’s threats, David Cameron remains personally committed to the cause of reforming the House of Lords. The coalition is also resisting calls for a referendum on the reforms, saying that it is ‘not persuaded of a case of having one’. Their view comes despite reports that the joint committee and banks of Tory and Labour MPs want a referendum.
The pressure on David Cameron, of course, pulls both ways. On the one hand, his backbenchers are vowing to prepare ‘off the scale’ rebellions that are ‘worse than Maastricht’. On the other hand, are the Lib Dems. In a show of strength that bordered on hubris, Lord Oakeshott said earlier today that his party expects all coalition MPs to vote for the bill.
Oakeshott’s expectations are obviously going to be scuppered. Opposition is concentrating, visibly, on a TV screen near you. Lord Falconer appeared on the Daily Politics earlier and voiced the concerns of most Tory rebels and many Labour MPs: that the Bill threatens to undermine the primacy of the House of Commons, which is why so many want a referendum on a fundamental constitutional question. Meanwhile, other opponents have reiterated the fact the coalition agreement, the government’s guiding light, contains no commitment on Lords Reform. This allows the opposition to paint the reforms as a Cleggite vanity project. Expect a flood of blood, sweat and tears from this latest Bubble drama.