Our ConservativeHome series on implementing the Conservative Manifesto continues.
The House of Lords is an obstacle to delivering the Conservative Manifesto swiftly, and the In/Out referendum threatens the Party’s unity. That’s why we kicked off this series on implementing strategic manifesto commitments by looking at both in turn. Our conclusion on the Lords: treat it with respect, reform it slowly – and, the more the Government puts the good of the country above that of the Party in revising it, the more likely it will be to further both ends. Our conclusion on the EU referendum: a Grand Bargain in which Eurosceptics accept the likely minimalism of David Cameron’s renegotiation…and he gives members of his Government the freedom to campaign for Out if they want to.
Our conclusion on the Boundary Review is the obvious one: get it done as fast as possible. There’s a good case for reducing the size of the Commons while going about it – non-Ministers could practicably take about 10,000 more constituents each – and, let’s face it, that’s what the Manifesto commits to: “We will also continue to reform our political system…reducing the number of MPs,” it says.
This is part of the evidence which convinces me that those who wrote and approved the Manifesto never thought for a moment that it would be implemented. Now that a Conservative majority is in place, David Cameron’s view seems to be that cutting the number of seats isn’t possible, since the number of losers would probably be greater than the Conservative majority. Sadly, a U-turn is unavoidable. The Boundary Commission is still committed to reducing the number of MPs to 600. It should be instructed to carry out a review with the present number as quickly as possible. This probably couldn’t be completed until midway through the Parliament, but the Commons should then see it through speedily.