Lord Strathclyde may be the one who has been charged by David Cameron to deliver House of Lords reform, but the peer is under no illusion about the scale of the task as he grapples with resistance from peers across the political spectrum in the House.
The Tory leader in the Lords, in an interview with the FT published tomorrow (Saturday), reassures his Lib Dem colleagues that he backs an elected house. But his mood music will give reformers little cause for celebration. The junior coalition members may have hoped for a spirited backing for reforms from Lord Strathclyde, instead the peer painted a more nuanced picture — proffering up a number of pitfalls that threaten to derail the project.
(Strathclyde is himself a hereditary peer who survived the 1999 cull.)
With four out of five peers saying they oppose the government’s reform plans, Lord Strathclyde can be forgiven for doing a little of his own pitch-rolling in case he can’t deliver what his boss David Cameron has asked him for. But it will fuel Lib Dem suspicions that he is dragging his heels. This is shaping up to be bloody fight.
On a lighter note, the peer — much to the disappointment of an elite clutch of politicians, hacks and businessmen — will not be swapping his newly acquired hair shirt with a champagne flute at the Tory party conference this year by reinstating his legendary annual conference bash. Thrift not frivolity is the message of Manchester and the peer says he will be happy to make do with a pint of warm beer.