Friday, March 07, 2008

The prospects in the Lords

EU Referendum carries an article, by UKIP peer Lord Willoughby de Broke, on the chances of being able to table and succeed with a referendum amendment in the House of Lords. The noble Lord believes that the prognosis is not good.
There are 217 Labour peers, 202 Conservative peers, 201 Crossbenchers, 78 LibDems plus 26 Bishops and 14 "others" (convicts past and present Lord Archer and Lord Black, a Green, two UKIP peers and assorted disaffects who do not wish to join the crossbenches).

That gives the Government a notional total of 295 votes. Allowing for slippage of peers who are sickened enough by the breach of promise to abstain or stay away and even a very few who may support a referendum amendment we are likely to be left with say 275 solid Government votes.

Turning to the Conservatives; their 202 votes will also be subject to serious slippage; think the three H's (Hurd, Howe, Heseltine), the ex-MEPs, the Commissioners - who could be liable to lose their fur-lined pensions if they act against the interests of the EU - members of the various EU quangocracies like the Committee of the Regions and Regional Assemblies as well as "let's not frighten the horses" school. Let's say the Conservatives could count on 175 votes. We can expect most of the" Others" - except for Lord Black, who will not be troubling the tellers - to vote with the Conservatives. The position of the Bishops is unclear. That leaves the Conservatives 90 votes behind the Government at the start line.

So to the Crossbenchers, two hundred of them. O-level maths shows that the pro-referendum group will need to get the votes of one hundred and fifty of those two hundred crossbenchers to carry the day. That is what Ministers like to call a "challenging" target, bearing in mind that the crossbenches are the retirement home for a number of ex-heads of QUANGOs or public bodies who owe their position to the Government. Think Lord Birt, to name but one - and there are plenty more where he came from.

The vote is therefore likely to hinge on the voting intention of the LibDem peers.

Well, in that case, we're all fucked. One might hope that the Lords might have understood what is at stake: if they reject any referendum amendment, then they simultaneously vote themselves out of power, in two ways.

First, once this Treaty is adopted, our entire Parliament will become an irrelevance. Second, there will be no stopping those who campaign for the House of Lords to be abolished. Were the noble Lords to carry the referendum amendment, they would carry public opinion on their side: they would make themselves incredibly popular with the ordinary voters of this country.

If they do not vote any referendum amendment through, they will certainly have rung their own death knell, let alone that of the rest of Parliament.

Anyway, go and read the whole thing...

UPDATE: a commenter says,
Even if the Lords do chuck out the vote against a referendum, what are the odds that the Parliament Act will be used yet again? Quite high I think.

This is an interesting idea, of course. The Parliament Act is usually used to stop the Lords from blocking legislation that fulfills the ruling Commons party's manifesto pledges.

To use it to force through legislation to stop the government fulfilling its manifesto pledges would be perverse in the extreme. Which is why I suspect that the Parliament Act will, indeed, be used if necessary.

We are ruled by such utter cunts.


Jones said...


Even if the Lords do chuck out the vote against a referendum, what are the odds that the Parliament Act will be used yet again? Quite high I think.

Daily Referendum said...


The Lib Dems should abstain if they follow the Lib Dem whip. If Clegg instructs them to vote against the referendum, he is one dirty cheating bastard (And most likely in Gordon's pocket).

Machiavelli's Understudy said...

See, this is where the Lords gets slightly more interesting. Because their sinecure is not dependent upon reselection at the next election, the dynamics of the situation are changed quite comprehensively.

Some Crossbenchers might owe their position to the Government (past or present- particularly so in the case of Blair/ Brown governments)- so what?

As has been the case on previous occasions, the Lords have successfully stuck two fingers up to the Government on important bills- the Lords know that it matters not a jot what the Government might want them to do- what are the consequences? Many lords are retired, have their pension, their titles, a comfortable life and perhaps for many, a comfortable amount in the bank- not forgetting their permanent office!

Don't forget that there are still a great many peers who've been fucked up the arse by the Government in recent years, with attempts to meddle with constitutional rearrangements.

Perhaps the vote might not go the way of defeating the Bill... but I don't think it's as much a foregone conclusion as some might think.

ade said...

I wouldn't rule out the Lords... in one of the great ironies of our times, the Lords tend to be more constitutionally-minded than the Government. Labour (and Tory) peers are far more likely to vote against their Parliamentary party's wishes than might be expected...

As for the parliament act - I believe that Blair's government used the PA more often than any other government in history; so I'd be absolutely totally unsurprised if they use it should the Lords kick back the treaty more than once.

Richard Allen said...

With respect to the noble UKIP peer his maths lesson is a waste of time because you never get anything like a full turnout in the Lords.

Anonymous said...

And are the peers truly interested in whether they are part of a government that becomes irrelevant under the EU treaty? They still get to claim their expenses and the rest. Plus they still get Lady Bucket of Pail or whatever to put on their credit card.