On the same day that 70 Tory MPs pledged to rebel against Lords reform, YouGov today released data showing the public are not supportive of the changes either.
Fifty per cent of people surveyed believe that Lords reform is not a priority, with 18% feeling it works well and should be left alone.
Even though the reforms have been described as “Nick Clegg’s baby”, his Party’s supporters have not sided with him this time, as only 28% of Liberal Democrat voters say they support the changes.
Only 42% said they wanted a mostly-elected chamber, with the remainder of people wanting either an appointed chamber (14%) or a mixture of appointed and elected (29%).
YouGov president Peter Kellner said:
Times are tough. Britain has huge economic problems. Some of the key actors in our public life, including politicians, bankers and journalists, are regarded as crooks and cheats.
In these circumstances, MPs should be wary of deciding that their priority is a constitutional form that leaves much of the public cold, and which does nothing to remove the failings that offend so many voters.
The debate about the fundamental purpose of the Lords is the one that should be happening but isn’t. A clear consensus about function should precede any decision about form.
Two weeks ago I argued that Lords reform is probably doomed this time round. Given the lack of public enthusiasm and the failure of the government to tell us what it believes the basic function of a reformed Lords to be, few people will mourn the Bill’s likely death.
These results come as another blow for government hopes for a majority vote, as 70 Tory rebels said they would not vote for the reforms in a letter sent to The Times.
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The Guardian reports:
The coalition government is facing the prospect of its first major Commons defeat after a 70-strong group of Tory rebels signed a letter opposing House of Lords reform before a crucial vote on Tuesday.
The letter was released as Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat deputy prime minister, prepared to appeal for unity over proposals for an 80%-elected upper chamber as he opened a two-day debate on the bill on Monday afternoon.
Amid growing tension in the coalition and the threat of a mass Tory rebellion, Clegg has sought to cast the vote on Tuesday night as a test of David Cameron’s leadership.
Left Foot Forward reported previously how Conservative MPs were planning on voting against Lords reform as an act of revenge for the Lib Dem’s abstention over the parliamentary vote on Jeremy Hunt’s referral to the government advisor on the ministerial code.
The Telegraph reported Eleanor Laing MP as saying:
“Why are we supposed to bend over backwards to support Nick Clegg’s over something that only matters to Lib Dems when his party cannot support a fellow minister who has done nothing wrong?”
It is a shame that a decision on historic constitutional change has lost its significance behind a cloud of political point scoring.
Although the government surely has bigger things to worry about, considering a defeat in the Commons on Lords reform would signal the Coalition’s first defeat and a very large nail in their coffin.