referendum

Maija Palmer

The dust has settled on the Scottish independence referendum. Where does the 55 per cent No vote leave our panel? Are they still speaking to friends and family?

Jill, a staunch No voter, laments the divisions the referendum have left within families and the overall fabric of Scottish society. She would like to put the whole issue behind her and move on. Read more

Maija Palmer

With only days to go until the vote, our panelists have all made up their minds. Of our three undecided voters two have gone over to the Yes camp, and one is planning to vote No, albeit with a heavy heart.

Our panel don’t believe the vote will be as close as polls currently suggest. But if it is, there are some fears about reprisals and the prospect of a ‘neverendum’ with the Yes campaign unwilling to stop pushing for another vote. Read more

Kiran Stacey

Members of the House of LordsAfter weeks of shadow boxing, ministers are finally publishing their proposals on reforming the House of Lords today. They include an 80 per cent elected chamber, filled with 450 part-time “senators”, elected by regional list.

Tory backbenchers are already up in arms, threatening rebellion and, in the case of some ministerial aides, resignation. Conor Burns, PPS to Owen Paterson, said this morning:

If I lose my job for something that was a mainstream view within the Conservative party within the last parliament, which serving cabinet ministers held as their view, so be it.

 Read more

Jim Pickard

Lords reform is widely seen as a hobbyhorse of Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats –yet it is a Tory minister whose task is to push through the legislation to transform parliament’s upper house.

Indeed, aides to Mr Clegg have jokingly referred to it as “the Mark Harper bill” in their attempts to downplay the idea that the deputy prime minister is obsessedby removing the unelected peers.

Mr Harper has a delicate task in front of him; steering through a full shake-up of the Lords which has evaded other politicians for a century.

A press officer warns the FT that the minister keeps his office at a low temperature: but this habit may not prepare him for the frosty reception he will face in parliament during next year’s legislative marathon.

Peers and MPs of all parties have already lined up to oppose the bill. Even if it passes through the Commons without mishap it is likely to be ambushed by the combined forces of Tory, Labour, and even some Lib Dem peers.

There could be a repeat of the filibustering and all-night sittings dominated the Lords in the spring of 2011 over the alternative vote bill.

Nick Clegg has threatened to use the Parliament Act to force it through, but weeks of debate are expected, taking up large amounts of next year’s political calendar.

Mr Harper tells the FT that bill should not take up a “disproportionate” amount of time: but warns potential trouble-makers:

I don’t think the public would understand if people told the public they don’t care hugely about this legislation but then let it (in-fighting) damage the rest of the programme,” he says.

Even David Cameron once said he saw Lords reform as a “third term issue”, implying it was a very low priority. But Mr Harper says the prime minister is fully signed up to the Read more

Jim Pickard

One rumour of recent days is that the Lib Dems are so demoralised about their impending AV defeat that none will bother to attend the official count down in Docklands. The theory adds to the relentlessly negative narrative about Clegg’s party.

In fact it’s not quite true. I’m told that Chris Huhne, Lord Ashdown, Danny Alexander, Charles Kennedy and Simon Hughes will all in fact be at Friday’s count, if not for the entire afternoon/evening. Read more

So the Royal Wedding is to be on April 29. Congratulations to the couple. They’ve picked a date that effectively parks a golden landau in the path of the political horse race. It will come a few weeks after the cuts kick in, and a few days before an epochal referendum on electoral reform. Read more

Jim Pickard

The fledgling “yes” campaign for AV says it is too early to make premature judgments. The Electoral Reform Society, for example, says that polls will inevitably jump around given that the formal campaigns have not yet started. The referendum is not until May – and could even be in September if rebel Tory MPs and Labour MPs unite to amend the relevant bill.

But our analysis for today’s FT shows that the yes campaign was ahead by 28 points in May (according to ComRes) and as little as 1 point ahead in recent weeks (says YouGov). It may not be a co-incidence that support has dwindled just as backing for the Lib Dems (the main proponents of electoral reform) has also fallen sharply. Read more