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  1. Wealth
May 9, 2011

Cameron's Cleggover

By Spear's

It’s not hard to imagine that our battered deputy prime minister regretting a lot more than rien

Nick Clegg nearly joined the Conservative Party. Yes,you read that right. A source close to him told me this week that the young Cleggie dithered over which party to chose – the Tories or the Lib Dems? (And they said conviction politics was dead!)

It’s not hard to imagine that our battered deputy prime minister regretting a lot more than rien, now he finds himself a despised leader of an unpopular party. And there will be no more significant concessions. (So-called Tory concessions on the NHS are illusory, as both Cameron and Osborne favour changes, themselves.)

It’s time for us to stop fiddling with the constitution while the economy burns and the Middle East goes up in flames, and David Cameron knows it. Cameron had promised a large bone to Nick Clegg if the latter lost the gunfight at the AV Corrall. The deputy prime minister was to be let lose on the House of Lords. Mr Cameron tantalised the Lib Dem leader with the permission to abolish the Lords in 2015, in favour of a US style senate, 80% of which will be elected by PR.

When Mr Cameron made this pledge, his critics claimed it was illustrative of the premier’s greatest flaw: his willingness to implement ill thought out and potentially disastrous measures, based on hastily made decisions. Tory MPs have complained that the Prime Minister ‘skims over’ the ‘big issues’, with scant concern for the future. Lords reform would be the most radical change to our constitution for 100 years.

Moreover, what powers would an almost wholly elected second chamber have? It would mean a lurch towards a bi-cameral system, in which each house is an equal partner in the legislative process. A senate that challenges the primacy of the Commons would not only delay important legislation indefinitely but encourage the dubious wheeler-dealing and pork barrel politics for which the US system has been criticised.

In any case, outside the left of centre media and Westminster elite, no one gives a damn, and Cameron knows it. His detractors should give him more credit for ruthless, Talleyrand-like strategy. The Prime Minister will stall and stall, until Lords reform is finally shelved. Nick, your’e not getting that particular bone, after all. Bet you wish you joined the Tories, after all.

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