Collapse of Lords reform plans raises more questions for Lib Dems

Clegg can hardly be seen to take this rebuff with equanimity after Cameron put Tory party’s unity ahead of coalition agreements

The collapse of coalition plans for an elected second chamber – with formal last rites likely to delivered next week by a rueful Nick Clegg – is triggering another bout of speculation about the survival of the coalition.

As in a bad episode of the Sopranos, the Liberal Democrat leader’s aides were warning darkly on Friday that there would be consequences as a result of David Cameron signalling he could not corral his rebel backbenchers to back an elected Lords.

Clegg can hardly be seen to take this rebuff to the centrepiece of his constitutional reform programme with total equanimity. Sadiq Khan, the shadow justice secretary, has already been mocking Clegg, accusing him of naivety in ever trusting the prime minister on constitutional reform.

It can be argued that Cameron has double-crossed Clegg on democratic reform before – taking a more active role in the no campaign in the alternative vote referendum last year than he had promised in private.

This time, Cameron, after assessing the state of Tory backbench opinion on Lords reform, simply put the interests of his own party’s unity ahead of the agreements in the coalition.

“We have delivered on the coalition agreement and sometimes it has been very painful for us, but this is the first time a clear agreement has been broken by either side,” said one Lib Dem official. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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