Nick Clegg risks Tory anger by pressing on with Lords reform
Nick Clegg has signalled his determination to press ahead with reform of the House of Lords in a move likely to anger Conservative MPs who have identified the issue as an electoral millstone that contributed to the dismal performance by coalition parties in last week's local elections.
In an article for the Guardian, Clegg says that Lib Dem radicalism is needed "as much as ever" on issues such as the constitution and that the party will be pushing "harder for reform". The tone of his remarks contrasts with that adopted by the chancellor, George Osborne, who used an interview on Sunday to depict Lords reform as a peripheral concern and said the government would focus "on the issues that really matter" as the Conservatives sought to win back core supporters.
Sources at No 10 rejected claims that the Queen's speech has been rewritten in the light of last week's election results to give it a more populist flavour - proposals such as gay marriage, which weekend reports said had been dropped, were either never due to be in it, or shelved some time ago. But the issue of Lords reform remains a faultline in the coalition. Lib Dem ministers are determined to press ahead with legislation to make the upper house largely elected, while Tory MPs and peers from all wings of the party spent the weekend identifying it as a key example of a policy showing the government out of touch with the concerns of voters.
Among the Tories joining that protest on Sunday were Lord Fowler, who said it was "bad politics" and not worth any votes, Tim Yeo, who said Lords reform should be "relegated right to the bottom of the queue" and Julian Brazier, who said it was a "ridiculous fringe" policy. ...