Several 'speculative' articles today suggesting that the Prime Minister may pull the plug on Lords reform next week. In particular, the article by Robert Winnett in the Telegraph gives an impression of being well sourced. Norman Smith of the BBC tells us with great confidence that the 'last rites' will be read next week. While I have thought there to be an inevitability about this since last month's rebellion in the House of Commons, I can see that it will could be very significant for the future of the Coalition. I can add that I would be pleased if this 'speculation' proves to be accurate. The prospect of MPs debating Lords reform for days (and perhaps nights) on end fills me with dread. The general public have very little interest in this issue and would prefer MPs to be focused on concerns about the economy.
I have seen it reported that the Liberal Democrats are totally opposed to this issue being shelved. It is an absolute 'red line' for them. Well, they cannot stop the Prime Minister 'pulling he plug' if he decides to, but there have been bloodcurdling threats about 'consequences'. The most obvious 'consequence' would be a refusal to vote through new constituency boundaries in time for the next General Election. From a personal perspective, I would be absolutely delighted if this were to happen, because it would save my constituency from obliteration, and leave me with a seat to defend. Hope this declaration of pleasure will not cause me trouble. But from a wider 'party' perspective, it would make it more difficult for the Conservatives to win a majority in 2015. I would not expect the prime Minister to back down on this issue. Stand off.
So what is going to happen. Wish I knew. I do think Nick Clegg would be sensible not to push this issue. If he let it go now, and came back with more modest reform, based on Lord Steele's suggestions, I sense he may get that through and have something to offer his party supporters. Of course it would not be the reform that Lib Dems want, but it could be seen as a start. Whatever, the reaction of party activists at the Lib Dem Conference on this issue will make it compulsive viewing for their coalition partners this year. I'm rather looking forwards to it.