As this blog predicted on Friday Lords reform is off the agenda. Consequently there is a price to pay.
The Liberal Democrats made it clear that the price is Mr Cameron’s attempts at limiting the size of the Commons to 600 members and making sure that each constituency had broadly the same number of electors.
When the plans are voted on in the Autumn Liberal Democrats will not be in alongside their coalition partners in the lobby.
It’s the view of the Liberal Democrats that the Tories did not deliver on the coalition agreement so it’s retribution time.
Simon Hughes said on Newsnight last night he expected all 19 Lib Dem ministers to now oppose Tory plans for changes to electoral boundaries. And he is, after all, the Deputy leader of his party.
One of the prime reasons that the Liberal Democrats entered into coalition was the prospect of constitutional change. The referendum on the voting system was lost. And now their cherished plans for changes to the Lords – to make 80% of peers elected and to halve the number of members to 450 – have bitten the dust.
After more than 90 Conservatives defied the government in a vote on the issue in July. Mr Clegg pulled the plug on the plans.
The coalition government will continue because if they don’t both parties will sink together. But relations between both parties will be frosty. And some Liberal Democrat back bench MPs are openly saying that “the gloves are off.” The party will pick and choose which elements of the coalition agreement they will support or oppose in future.
The Conservatives, meanwhile, would have to live with the current parliamentary boundaries which means it will continue to take many more thousands of voters to elect a Conservative MP than a Labour MP.
The Parliamentary and Voting Constituencies Bill introduced fair-sized seats of equal population. This could have boosted the number of Tory MPs at the next election by up to twenty.
Wales will now retain 40 MPs. Despite the brave face being put on it by the Welsh Secretary, yesterday, it looks as if her Green paper is dead in the water. There are unlikely to be any changes in the way the National Assembly is elected for sometime yet.
Poor Lord Richard’s plans for an eighty seat Assembly voted by PR will be on the shelve for a few years yet.