Unelected Lords have no mandate to overturn MPs

Chris Moncrieff
Chris Moncrieff

The very idea that the House of Lords should declare war on the elected House of Commons is repugnant to those who respect the time-honoured constitutional conventions which exist successfully in this country.

The very idea that the House of Lords should declare war on the elected House of Commons is totally repugnant to those who respect the time-honoured constitutional conventions which exist successfully in this country.

And the fact the part-authors of this challenge are the Liberal Democrats, who were given a hefty boot up the backside by voters at the general election, makes a bad situation even worse.

The outcome of this so-called “fatal motion” - a rarely used parliamentary device - which would reverse the Commons vote on tax credit cuts, is unknown at the time of writing.

But the fact remains, the idea that the unelected House of Lords - which includes not a few rejects from the Commons - exists to challenge the supremacy of the Commons, is simply wrong, arrogant and mischievous.

Members of the House of Lords may not like what the Commons has done, but they have no right or mandate to overturn it in this way.

And I would say, too, that those newer arrivals in the Upper Chamber who have previously sat in the Commons, must learn to curb their innate street-fighting political tendencies now they have been ennobled.

To his great credit, Lord (Michael) Howard, the former Conservative leader, has attacked those noble hotheads who are instigating this plan. One senior Liberal Democrat figure, Lord Newby, the party’s chief whip in the Lords, has childishly accused David Cameron of behaving like a schoolboy bully in his reaction to this threat.

And the excitable Lord Newby has warned that Mr Cameron was prepared to “duff us up” over this issue. I am not surprised the Prime Minister takes this line.

The House of Lords should stick to its role as a revising chamber and not the role of a political warmonger.

I trust we shall hear no more sanctimonious talk of democracy from those who are threatening a constitutional crisis to envelop Westminster.

• Jeremy Corbyn’s control of the Labour Party is beginning to look about as hopeless as that of a rookie cowboy trying to cling on to a bucking bronco. In short, the Leader of the Opposition’s tenure seems to be getting more precarious on a daily basis.

And this is without any real “help” from the Conservatives. All they need to do is to sit back, keep quiet and let Labour Party figures - some of them very prominent - do the savaging on their own leader.

Already two Labour peers (admittedly neither of them household names) have resigned the party whip in the House of Lords. Lord Gardiner said: “I have nothing in common whatever with Mr Corbyn - and I don’t believe we are ever going to win an election”, adding that he could not square sitting on the Labour benches with his conscience.

And Lord Warner said that Labour had not “a hope in hell” of winning an election under Corbyn.

Lord Mandelson, no less, has also joined in the tirade against the Labour leader, while Jonathan Powell who was Tony Blair’s most senior aide, has warned that Labour could become a “Stalinist operation” under Corbyn.

And to add to all these problems, Labour back-bencher Simon Danczuk has announced he is prepared to stand as a “stalking horse” candidate against Corbyn to make way for someone more acceptable.

This looks like no idle threat. And it is reminiscent of the elderly Tory back-bencher Sir Anthony Meyer who stood as a stalking horse against Margaret Thatcher. There was no chance Sir Anthony would defeat Thatcher, but the outcome cost her a lot in political credibility and set in train the events which brought her down.

Mr Corbyn will have to be as tough as old boots if he is to survive all these onslaughts. If things carry on like this, he could become one of the shortest-lived party leaders in British political history.

• Tony Blair has come under fire from those whose relatives were killed in the Iraq War (and others) for making what has been described as merely a half apology for his and his government’s role in the conflict.

The former Labour Prime Minister has also been accused of pre-empting and softening the blow by his statements on CNN, the publication of the much-delayed Chilcot report on the conflict.

The Prime Minister himself is infuriated that it has taken Sir John Chilcot so long after millions of pounds has been spent on the report. If Sir John has given (quite properly) an opportunity for those criticised in the report, he should also have given them a deadline which they must observe.

What is worrying is that the longer the publication date is awaited, the more likely it is the report will be branded a whitewash and a cover-up.

Chilcot, metaphorically, should be chained to his desk until this report sees the light of day.

• Get fracking! That is the message that should be blared out loud and clear about a process which will enormously benefit Britain’s economy and general wellbeing.

Yet it is constantly stalled by groups of protesters. It seems that most people would support fracking but many of them suffer from the deplorable “not in my backyard” syndrome.

If Victorian entrepreneurs had reacted like this to every niggling complaint and protest, there would have been no industrial revolution which helped to make Britain a world leader.

So, get moving now!