Redwood on the red benches

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Last week, John Redwood was complaining about how his speech 10 years ago on single mothers had been deliberately distorted by Labour spin doctors. He has a point, particularly given that Labour has now gone far further than the Tories ever did in this area, but I don’t think anyone should be too sympathetic when he writes this sort of piffle to his constituents:

Unfortunately, the government is unlikely to want to change its mind on how peers should be elected. They favour shorter terms, the right to stand again, and party list systems. This will put many people off, by strengthening the grip of the party machines over the last part of the UK constitution which sometimes shows some independence and commonsense.

To be clear, some of what Redwood proposes for Lords reform makes a certain amount of sense, partly because it isn’t a million miles away from what reformers have been calling for for years. But at the risk of sounding like an apologist for Jack Straw, the government is NOT calling for shorter terms or the right to stand again: both are explicitly rejected by the White Paper on Lords Reform. And while they do advocate a party list system, it is a “partially open list”, meaning that people would be able to vote for specific candidates, rather than parties, if they prefer. It might not be my first preference, but it offers the voter more choice than any other system currently being used in the British Isles – including the Tories’ blessed FPTP – with the obvious exception of STV.

I’m quite confident John Redwood must know this since the White Paper was published more than 2 weeks before he made his post. Distorting what people say is one thing, one might even say is politics. Outright lies on the other hand discredits the whole enterprise and disentitles Redwood from the right to complain when his own words get twisted.

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