On Monday night the Tories were narrowly defeated in the Lords by 289 to 272 on their plans to cut tax credits. With not even Lord Lloyd-Webber’s last minute flight across the pond to vote enough to prevent the government’s defeat, it only adds insult to injury to note that a number of the newly appointed Tory peers were not introduced into the house in time to have a say.
As William Hague is one such peer, the former foreign secretary has been left seething at the result. Writing for the Telegraph, Hague has launched a scathing attack on the Lib Dem peers who voted against tax credits. In a cutting remark he likens them to ‘ghosts of a ruined civilisation’:
‘Not so in the House of Lords, where, when I am introduced as a member at the end of next month, I will find more than 100 Liberal Democrats stalking the corridors, like ghosts of a ruined civilisation still wandering the catacombs and remembering the happy days in the sunlight when people above ground used to like them.’
He goes onto accuse the Lib Dem peers of lacking principles:
‘I single them out now because it seems to me that on Monday night, when they joined in defeating George Osborne’s tax credit plans and even voted for a “fatal motion” to stop them altogether, these ghosts forgot a key principle of the liberal civilisation they once led. My old Liberal friends in the last Cabinet were fond of the word “principle” and never happier than when they could attach it to the word “constitutional”. And the idea that matters of taxation are solely for the elected house of our Parliament to decide is a constitutional principle of the United Kingdom if ever there was one.’
With Hague now saying it is time for the Conservatives to put right the rules that allow an unelected chamber to ‘change or veto the tax proposals of an elected government’, Mr S suspects that the majority of House of Commons showdowns will soon be nothing when compared to the exchanges in the Lords once Hague arrives next month.