Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Heffer and Jenkins united in opposition to Clegg reforms

It takes some doing to see Simon Jenkins in the Guardian and Simon Heffer in the Telegraph united in opposition to a proposed measure, but Clegg has managed it with his proposed constitutional reforms.

And to be frank, such distinguished opposition is giving me second thoughts about AV, which I don't support but haven't until now opposed hugely. I've always disliked the idea of fixed term Parliaments for much the same reason I dislike fixed term contracts; any businessman wants both the options to terminate early and the right to extend on the same terms, so a nominally three year contract becomes anything from one to five years. I also hugely dislike the idea of a Lords made up of loyal apparatchiks from the dying parties, so eloquently condemned by Jenkins;
As for Clegg's proposal for an elected House of Lords, this is a cloak for a power grab by the Westminster apparat even more blatant than his attempt to engineer running coalitions. Elections would be on the basis of party lists drawn up by leaders and whips from loyalists and Commons trusties. It would extend the corruption of Wilson's "lavender list" and Tony Blair's "luvvies list". It happens across Europe, where position on the election list holds the key to party discipline. Voting might give such patronage the soft dusting of legitimacy, but only in replicating the Commons.A second chamber should be what John Stuart Mill called "a centre of resistance to the predominant power in the constitution" – resistance but not obstruction. It should be a custodian of diversity and pluralism, as in part the Lords is now, not a reward and resting place for party hacks.
So, I'll now oppose AV as well. That just leaves equalising the constituencies amongst Clegg's measures as the sole one I'll support. And if he tries to sneak in party funding measures, well, then it's war.

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