LONDON (Morning Star) — The coalition agreement between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats could result in the parties appointing more than 170 new peers [House of Lords members] despite being committed to a largely or fully elected upper house, it has emerged.
The agreement, published May 12, states that a committee will be set up to come forward with draft motions by December to create a reformed upper house elected by proportional representation.
With Labour currently represented by 211 peers, on a strict mathematical calculation, this would imply an increase from 186 to 263 in Tory numbers in the House of Lords and a boost in Lib Dem places from 72 to 167 – a total of 172 new peers.
And with current peers expected to benefit from a “grandfathering” arrangement, which would allow them to retain their seats in an otherwise elected house, any new appointees could remain in Parliament for the rest of their lives.
Scottish National Party MP Angus MacNeil said: “This just shows how the Tory coalition is the same old politics continuing.
“The public will not understand why money is being wasted to pay for hundreds of partisan peers whilst massive cuts are being planned.”
British voters have sent out a clear message that they don’t want a Tory government by denying the party a majority in the House of Commons.
And strong performances by left Labour candidates in the general election have boosted the coming fight against a fierce Westminster coalition for cuts.
Hayes and Harlington incumbent John McDonnell won a big majority of 10,824 and Jeremy Corbyn increased his share of the poll in Islington North, notching up a majority of 12,401 over the Lib Dems.
Nearly 20 successful Labour candidates were backed by the Labour Representation Committee, which is pledged to fight the cuts, tax the rich and repeal the anti-union laws.
Mr McDonnell said that the left and trade unions would forge a powerful alliance “to resist attacks on our communities” by a “neoliberal coalition government.”
Meanwhile, the Tories and new Labour leaders were competing unashamedly to woo the Liberal Democrats into such a coalition to break the stalemate hung parliament.
This seduced Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg into brazenly seeking to dictate terms, making his first choice a link-up with the Tories.
Mr Clegg declared that it was for the Conservative Party to seek a government “in the national interest” since it had the most votes and the most seats.
The inflated media-pumped Lib Dem bubble had been well and truly punctured when the actual results came through. The party gained barely an extra 1 percent of the votes and actually lost seats.
However, Prime Minister Gordon Brown still stood in Downing Street appealing to any Lib Dems who would listen that their party should join new Labour in “ensuring continuing economic stability” and introducing legislation for a referendum on electoral reform.
With an air of doom, he referred to the deepening crisis in world financial markets centred on the euro and Greece.
But, even after that, Mr Brown added: “I understand and completely respect the position of Mr Clegg in stating that he first wishes to make contact with the leader of the Conservative Party.”
Soon afterwards, Tory leader David Cameron started his overtures to woo the Liberal Democrats into a “strong and stable government.”
He proclaimed that such a government would take “urgent action” to slash Britain’s “dangerous” financial deficit, “the biggest threat to our national interests.”
Boasting that the Tories had achieved “a bigger increase in seats than even Margaret Thatcher in 1979,” Mr Cameron offered the Lib Dems reforms to the tax system, opposition to ID cards and a vague promise on “reform” of the electoral system.
The Tories secured just over 36 per cent of the votes, but only managed to win one seat in Scotland. Labour scored over 28 per cent, the worst performance since 1983. Lib Dems scored around 23 per cent.
Late predictions were that the Tories would win 307 seats (+94), Labour 259 (-88) and Lib Dems 56 (-5). In addition, the Scottish National Party had six seats and Plaid Cymru three.
Parliament also gained the first ever Green Party MP when Caroline Lucas won Brighton Pavilion with a majority of 1,252 over Labour candidate Nancy Platts.
Another newcomer will be Unite deputy general secretary Jack Dromey, who was elected for Birmingham Erdington with a majority of 3,277.
Left-of-centre figure Jon Cruddas was returned as MP for Dagenham and Rainham, securing a majority of 2,630 over the Conservatives. The [far-right] British National Party left in third place with 11.2 per cent of the vote.
Respect leader Salma Yaqoob piled up 12,240 votes in Birmingham Hall Green, coming a respectable second to Labour candidate Roger Godsiff who won 16,039.
Your guide to the poll results that matter
Conservative: 307 seats (2005: 198) Votes:10,706,647 36% (+3.8%)
Labour: 258 seats (2005: 356) Votes:8,604,358 29% (-6.2%)
Lib Dem:57 seats (2005: 62) Votes:6,827,938 23%(+1.0%)
DUP: 8 seats (2005: 9) Votes:168,216 0.6% (-0.3%)
SNP: 6 seats (2005: 6) Votes:491,386 1.7% (+0.1%)
Sinn Fein: 4 seats (2005: 5) Votes:171,942 0.6% (-0.1%)
Plaid Cymru: 3 seats (2005: 2) Votes:165,394 0.6% (-0.1%)
SDLP: 3 seats (2005: 3) Votes:110,970 0.4% (-0.1%)
Green: 1 seats (2005: 0) Votes:285,616 1% (-0.1%)
Alliance Party: 1 seats (2005: 0) Votes:42,762 (n/a)
Ukip: 0 seats (2005: 0) Votes:917,832 3.1% (+0.9%)
BNP: 0 seats (2005: 0) Votes:563,743 1.9% (+1.2%)
Photo: The British Parliament and Big Ben. Maurice/CC