James Forsyth

Labour’s Lords reform plan is about framing the election campaign not the constitution

Labour's Lords reform plan is about framing the election campaign not the constitution
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Labour knows that its class attacks on David Cameron only work when they tie them to a specific issue. So it was almost inevitable that House of Lords reform was going to be wheeled out at some point.

There was excitement in Labour circles earlier this year when the Tories voted against removing the voting rights of the remaining hereditary peers. Gordon Brown used the issue as an attack line at Prime Minister Questions and Labour see the vote as something they can use to paint the Tories as the party of inherited privilege.

Patrick Hennesssy now has the scoop that Labour will have a manifesto commitment to having a fully elected, 300 strong second chamber. As Patrick reports, ‘Labour's plan is to provoke elements inside the Conservative Party to object to the reforms – which would allow it to paint David Cameron as wedded to old ideas of privilege.

Now, this is, obviously, no way to reform the constitution. The cynicism of this move is highlighted by the fact that Brown has been happy to place huge amounts of power in an appointed member of the Lords, Lord Mandelson. But the Tories are going to have to be careful about how they respond to this cynical politicking. It is imperative that they prevent anyone on the Tory side from walking into the Labour trap by standing up for the hereditary principle.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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