By Matthew Barrett
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"Let me put it this way: if you’re a Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament whose seat has been pretty substantially carved up as a result of the proposals for a review of the boundaries, then the idea that you would simply march into the lobbies in support of the Conservative Government’s particular anxiety to obtain this piece of legislation is one which may be very hard to swallow. I don’t believe that it can be accepted that we will simply form up in the way that some people think. I think there will be a lot of hard talking going on. I don’t regard it as a threat – I think these are two prongs of the same agreement, the Coalition Agreement, and I expect the first to be honoured, and I expect the second to be honoured as well."
Sir Menzies should be reminded of two facts. Firstly, the Coalition Agreement does mention a two-pronged deal – but it doesn't include Lords reform:
"We will bring forward a Referendum Bill on electoral reform, which includes provision for the introduction of the Alternative Vote in the event of a positive result in the referendum, as well as for the creation of fewer and more equal sized constituencies. We will whip both Parliamentary parties in both Houses to support a simple majority referendum on the Alternative Vote, without prejudice to the positions parties will take during such a referendum."
Why do Lib Dems have such difficulty remembering the deal was an AV referendum for a boundary review? Secondly, Nick Clegg explicitly denied there was any link between Lords reform and the boundary review. He told a hearing of the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee:
"I have said that I do not recognise this idea that there are links between one bit of what is actually, as I have described earlier, quite a long list of constitutional political changes we are making, and another. … There is no link; of course, there is no link."
Nick and Sir Menzies cannot both be right.