This week, breakage. Next week, super glue. Given the noises emanating from Downing
Street, there’s little doubt that the Tory and Lib Dem leaderships are going to do a repair job on the coalition once the AV referendum has been decided. As Rachel Sylvester puts it in "http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/opinion/columnists/rachelsylvester/article2998141.ece">her column (£) today, "Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg have had several amicable meetings to discuss how
to handle the fall-out from the referendum. Both agree that whoever wins should be gracious, and allow the lower to take a bit more of the limelight in the weeks after the vote." They will be
looking for quick and easily triggered bonding mechanisms, not least to repel "http://www.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/6895013/labour-spot-the-dangers-and-opportunities-of-the-av-referendum.thtml">Labour’s charge that the coalition is damaged goods. But the question is:
what do those bonding mechanisms look like?
Sylvester mentions a few possibilities, the most significant of which is House of Lords reform. Although the policy of having a "mainly-elected" upper chamber is
"http://www.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/6578578/an-80-percent-elected-lords-would-not-be-a-lib-dem-triumph.thtml">just as much a Tory one as a Lib Dem one, it could be sold as a great
constitutional coup by Clegg & Co. We’d have the same policy, only with yellower packaging.
But there’s a problem — and it’s encapsulated by Jesse Norman’s
"http://conservativehome.blogs.com/platform/2011/04/jesse-norman-mp-why-plans-for-replacing-the-house-of-lords-with-an-elected-senate-should-not-be-a-pr.html">artfully timed article for
ConservativeHome today. "Should an elected House of Lords be a priority right now?" asks the Tory MP for Hereford and South Herefordshire. To which he answers, "no". And in case
that wasn’t unequivocal enough, he also adds five observations that "make a formidable case for denying this legislation." Simple fact is, there are plenty of Tory MPs who are ready to
oppose Lords reform with some vigour. It may have been a Tory in government who referred to his coalition counterparts as "http://politicalscrapbook.net/2011/04/lib-dems-yapping-dogs/">"yapping dogs," today. But the backbenchers aren’t in the mood to be unduly generous towards the Lib Dems, either.