There was a little spat last week, in the midst of Britain’s gold rush at the Olympics, the two men at the heart of government abandoned their attempt to reform the House of Lords (a Tory redline). In revenge, the LibDems cut their commitment to cut the number of seats in the Commons
The Economist thinks it was a mistake both may come to rue:
…the coalition is now far weaker. By trying to defuse rebellions in their own parties, the Conservative and Liberal Democrat leaders have primed a much bigger bomb under the government. The coalition was once bound together by affinity, with the two parties discovering they agreed on a good deal, including school reform, localism and paying off the deficit. It is now held together more by a fear of what would happen if it dissolved: the Tories trail Labour in the polls, and the Liberal Democrats are floundering. This week may come to be seen as the point at which their pact began to fall apart. By describing the coalition agreement as a purely contractual affair, Mr Clegg inaugurated a new era of tit-for-tat politicking. The project looks less like a marriage and more like a bad-tempered game of chess. That is not in Britain’s interests.
As The Economist also notes, they would have been useful reforms that would hardly have rocked the nation (although the question of whether this new ‘Senate’ would have challenged the authority of the Commons, had no convincing LibDem answer).
It’s the turning inward to meet internal audiences that may make Labour’s task easier… In the meantime, if the Westminster boundaries are not change, what does that mean for Northern Ireland?