If the reports in the Telegraph are true and that the Prime Minister is to retreat on a commitment to Lords reform then we are officially in a bit of a pickle. Naturally many have already reacted by claiming that the Tories desire for boundary changes will also sink with Lords reform, but I do not think we should take such a route. I believe that if Cameron truly cannot commit his party to Lords reform then we should not respond by simply “killing off” the boundary changes that have been proposed. Not only would it be a wasted opportunity, but it would also in my eyes be a rather pitiful consolation prize.
I do not want to dwell on the boundary changes but, in my opinion, any reform that looks to cancel out the obvious inequalities in the current setup is a good reform. It is a system that can hand Labour a majority with the most minimal of leads in the popular vote, whilst other parties would need a rather sizeable lead over Labour to grasp a majority. The Tories, for example, need something along the lines of a 10% lead in the popular vote to even dream of a small slither of a majority!
But what we must take from Cameron’s weak backtracking is a truly great opportunity. An opportunity for the party to make big ground on another important policy area. I think fast-tracking our income tax threshold policy is a clear and obvious winner. This would not just be good for nice Focus headlines, but truly wonderful for the millions of low earners out there who need help in time of economic uncertainty. The cost of living, despite the indicators of inflation, is still tough for a lot of people and it is they who would really benefit from the tax allowance rising to £10,000 as we are committed to do anyway by 2015.
I am not saying that acceleration of income tax policy is necessarily the way to go but it is certainly something to consider. I believe Cameron knows he will have to tread lightly amongst our party as tensions rise in light of such revelations (whether true, or not), so we should use this not as time to get angry but to get active and be as opportunistic as possible while we have the time. Lords reform may possibly be dead, but our desire to achieve for the millions in society is not.