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The Tories don’t have the political capital to reform the House of Lords

House of LordsIt takes a special kind of stupid to turn discontent over an ill-thought and mean-spirited policy into a crisis that rocks the foundations of the Mother of all Parliaments. Such is the blindness of George Osborne’s overrated “genius” that the Tories have plunged themselves into a serious political crisis. They have threatened all kind of hell fire and damnation in the event the House of Lords votes to kill or delay their cuts to tax credits. They should “think very carefully” about their position, says Dave. Ken Clarke has urged the Lords not to abuse their position, and even cuddly old John Bercow has “reminded” them of the established constitutional position. And if their Lordships don’t submit, we’ve been threatened with a shower (in both sense of the word) of new Tory peers and/or some sinister-sounding reform of the upper house. Both of which were ever likely to mollify anyone, and duly the government were handed their arse. Twice. Two delaying motions have gone through, prolonging the political pain for the chancellor.

Now the Tories have lost, what next? I’m going to tell you: sweet FA. The threats and hints of threats aren’t going to come to anything. And here’s why. This government is rushing things though for a reason: it is living on borrowed time. Somewhere in a filing cabinet in Number 11 Downing Street, there is a ‘George Osborne for Conservative Leader’ grid. Its authors, Dave and Gidders, have a fixed legislative timetable set up to maximise the chancellor’s chances in the battle to come. The trick is to not only get the controversial stuff out the way early in this Parliament’s life in the hope no one will remember come 2020, but to take advantage of the temporary unity of Tory purpose this side of the EU referendum campaign. Hence why there’s talk of bringing back the abolition of the Human Rights Act for summer next year, just before recess. According to Dave and Osborne’s scheme, the important stuff is out the way with, they can have their idiotic and unnecessary EU renegotiation/referendum in which the Tories will immolate and flay one another. They might call their own some rather nasty names too. Britain votes to stay in, Dave announces his impending retirement for the end of the Parliament and Osbo cruises in to pole position.

It’s a tight timetable, and there’s barely any wriggle room. Which is why Dave and Osborne aren’t going to allow for a blow up over House of Lords reform. They both know packing the upper chamber will damage them when it comes to reducing the number of MPs, and they are equally aware reforming the house is a can of worms where their backbenchers are concerned. It would scupper an already-damaged Osborne’s chances if the leadership were to go to war over this. Likewise he can’t afford to back down either for being seen as both reckless and weak. The most likely outcome of this damaging nonsense for the government are concessions on Osborne’s part. His friendly friends in the media this morning have already indicated he’s now in “listening mode”, though he was reportedly only interested if the Lords behaved themselves. They haven’t, and by defeating the government the Lords are forcing Dave and Osborne to hear things with one arm up their backs. Let the political punishment of awful headlines and barracking from their own side continue.

This post first appeared at All That Is Solid


  1. David Ellis says:

    Everybody has been wondering why the economic collapse of 2008 did not result in a huge rise in unemployment. When tax credits are cut they need wonder no more. The end of subsidised part-time work will see 100s of thousands of jobs disappearing. The Tories are ideologically committed to capitalism and as such they believe in the `creative destruction’ of boom and bust and they don’t care how much suffering it results in for the working class. This is not about the deficit this is about forcing a recession as they did in 1979 but this time there will be no comeback. The House of Lords have made a protest but it will not stop this vicious assault which is the necessary product of the ideological driven choice to choose capitalism. Only workers not simply protesting but taking power away from this system of exploitation can save workers.

    1. Sandra Crawford says:

      It did result in a huge rise in unemployment.
      If you read this link carefully, you come to realise that the unemployment figures are in principle and reality a big con job.
      One way of assessing unemployment is the drop in tax receipts, which have fallen, and the fact that the macro economic pile has shrunk, with GDP falling and growth slowing to a crawl. These always indicate that unemployment figures are a con job when they appear surprisingly low.

    2. Mukkinese says:

      You can only get working tax credits if you work full-time, but your are right, it is the cut that will affect the newly “self-employed” the most. They were “helped” off unemployment benefit by being forced into self-employment. Some make an income some do not, but very very many rely on working tax credits to get by.

      This cut, along with IDS’s plans to harangue and sanction the self-employed who claim, just as he does the unemployed will result in massive numbers being thrown back on the dole…

  2. John Penney says:

    This hopefully is the George Osborne “Poll Tax moment” as political/social reality finally starts to overwhelm the fictitious Tory pro Austerity narrative so assiduously megaphoned by the majority pro Tory press.

    The looming winter disaster/meltdown facing the NHS will be the second graphic wake up call to the general public of the consequences of five more Tory years. Reality is like that.

    Labour with John McDonnell has recently played this one very , very , well – after the first daft misstep. It is noticeable in the press today how completely absent from the analysis of the hole Osborne has dug for himself is any credit being given to Labour. The mass of voters , particularly misguided working class Tory voters standing to lose around £1,3000 a year from the changes, will hopefully have had an epiphany ideologically as to the true nature of the Tories and their pro superrich political agenda.

  3. Bazza says:


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