Bad Day at the Office for the Government


I rushed away to another event this evening after the vote on the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill. That means I missed the debate after this extraordinary vote but have now read the Hansard record and have a feel for the chaos that ensued.

The defeat was significant because it was a Liberal Democrat amendment, moved by Baroness Harris, to remove the various first sub clause of the bill. This flagship bill is first and foremost to introduce elected police commissioners. Tonight was the first opportunity for Lords to vote on the bill and the junior coalition partner used that opportunity to vote out that basic element of the reforms. This was very muscular from the Libdems, but of course it needed the hard work and argument of Crossbench and Labour peers to win the vote by 12.

Of course this meant that further consideration of those sections of the bill relating to police commissioners was pretty redundant but the Government tried to plough on with some of it. Reading the record it looks like it ended in chaos and farce. It appears that a massive Government defeat was followed by a hopeless piece of leadership in deciding to try to continue rather than abandon consideration for the night to allow regrouping.

Incidentally I feel some sympathy for Baroness Browning who has had just 48 hours in the job as bill minister and finds herself at the wrong end of the biggest Parliamentary defeat of this Government. I hope she in no way feels any responsibility.

10 comments for “Bad Day at the Office for the Government

  1. 12/05/2011 at 1:34 am

    Excellent post. Well done to the Lib Dems for showing some muscle – for a change – and of course well done to the Crossbench and Labour Lords for forcing the Government re-visit this. Such massive changes cannot be introduced without ample debate and consultation. Some forces, i.e. Leicestershire, are already treating elected police commissioners as a foregone conclusion (see here: This needs to be done properly, so I for one am glad that the Labour team are working hard on this. Thank you.

  2. Gareth Howell
    12/05/2011 at 7:16 am

    Having had a close family friend for a chief constable for a good many years at the rugby club,(in town) and supposing that a good many Chief constables enjoy that kind of leisure activity,I have always enquired of beat coppers who their chief constable is, and it is not entirely surprising that few of them know who.

    It might not be any different, in the event, with elected commissioners, but at least the public would be able to pin a medal to their choice of Chief/Commissioner.

    I trust the government will press on with the Bill as it was, and take no notice at all of silly debates by the HofL, going through the motions.

    I hope also that the Libdems will press on with their campaign for PR(proportional representation), which has been a major plank in their campaigns for years.
    Perhaps it will take a Lab/Libdem coalition to achieve it in the AV+ format! It could just about happen.

  3. MilesJSD
    12/05/2011 at 7:47 am

    “Elected” Police Commissioners ?
    That’s a sickening-joke if ever there was one.

    The enthymemic ‘hole’ in the Election reasoning and practice is that the already-strong, wealthy and empowered have already cornered the Agenda and the Polling-Process, “competitively”, i.e. for their own essentially blinkered and selfish ends;

    whilst the weak, poor and disempowered are unable to “compete”.

    Our constitution, legislation, regulation, process, and enforcement all need to be egalitarianised

    I suggest by constituting disinterested advocacy-representation, electioneering, and voting on behalf of the disadvantaged.

    What is being done about the “voice of the individual citizen” ?

    The British Nation i.e. People-population numbers approximately 65 million heads, with tongues that need to be enabled, and then empowered to speak –

    work it out:
    you see, if each were in true-democratic equality to be given time to voice their individual needs to the other (65000000 – 1), the time-on-air per person would be no more than 3 seconds (one-twentieth of one minute)

    once every five years !

    So much for The British World Leading Democratic Election System, eh ?

  4. Carl.H
    12/05/2011 at 10:52 am

    Oh dear, I’m becoming awfully frustrated with all this elected business and referendums.

    Taking a phrase from Nick Clegg, let’s be honest and I hope I can be more honest than him. This elected must be better lark is a scam, it is to deflect the publics eye from the ball, the real problems in our politics, corruption, lies and deceit. Not the system but the people within it.

    Elections give you more of those people that are liable to all the ills, they are the best liars, manipulators the psychopaths of our politic. When an election or referendum for that matter is held the electorate know very little, their lives are busy especially at this time of cuts. We know that members of this House don’t always know the full coverage of bills going through, the public know far less. Politicians will use all means at their disposal to get the votes, uninformed votes in most cases. The AV referendum saw celebrities being used, the big guns of the parties and the media being partisan. It wasn’t about education.

    Can you imagine the Royal Navy saying to it’s crews elect the Captain ? Or the Army it’s Generals ? We elect Government and then they expect to act in a semi-autonomous fashion. Why do they seem to think a popularity contest for Police Chiefs is right?

    How would I a voter know how to choose the right one ? Read the pamphlet stuck through my door telling me things they hope I want to hear and leaving out the bad bits ? Rely on the media to come up with the whole truth and perhaps a bit of dirt on one or two ?

    What have elections given us ? According to politicians a system that is broken but according to the electorate corrupt politicians.

    During the recent election one candidate knocked on my door. Perhaps two or three leaflets came through the letterbox not much more, I went to the poll blind, I voted blindly,there was no educated decision making except in the referendum vote which I learnt about on here.

    And talking of here, I’ve been here I suppose a couple of years now and one could say I’m a prolific commenter but am I educated in all fields ? Would all the House members who post here say I could make an intelligent, educated vote regards all given subjects ? I can’t and yet I’m one who takes a lot of time to find out about our politics. What about the majority who can’t or don’t want to give it the time ?

    And to those of you opposing the election of Police Commissioners who appear educated enough to understand, I hope you apply the same thinking to an elected House of Lords.Finding the right person for the job by popular demand of the monkeys who were fed bananas by the contenders is going to give us what ?

  5. maude elwes
    12/05/2011 at 2:55 pm

    Police Chiefs, of every sphere, should be elected by the Public as they are in the USA.

    If the UK feels following the US in their democratic process is a good idea, then they should stick with the entire cherbang. Not pick and choose parts of it that suit them and remove the power from the people as they go.

  6. Carl.H
    12/05/2011 at 5:00 pm

    Off topic !

    Oh come on, 7 days suspension in all probability paid for an over £50,000 fiddle. I don’t care what his motivation was, name me one working class citizen who could have got that in a Court ? Lies, deceit and corruption – the elected way.

  7. Bedd Gelert
    12/05/2011 at 5:26 pm

    Hello turkeys !! Start voting for Christmas…

    Or not, as the case may be. Interesting to see what will happen first, the Badger Cull or the House of Lords Cull…

  8. maude elwes
    13/05/2011 at 1:14 pm

    @Bedd Gelert:

    This struck me as ridiculous. Do you really believe the best outcome will be as a result of a lottery draw? The local friends here fell on the floor in paralysed laughter when we discussed this.

    The first to win would, of course, be the inarticulate Prescott. Who better to save us from the nasty men who cheat than he.

    Come on they cannot be serious, this has to be a delayed April fools wind up?

  9. Twm O'r Nant
    13/05/2011 at 3:49 pm

    Good luck to Sundip Meghani in his term of office at Leicester city Council. I hope the noble Lords shall hear some more from him here on his subjects of expertise.

    From his link above:

    The Commissioner will be overseen by a new Police and Crime Panel which will primarily consist of representatives of all Local Authorities in a Force’s geographical area. The Panel is intended as a check and balance on the Police and Crime Commissioner, rather than on the Force itself.

    So not only the Commissioner will be a new elected office, but the Panel will be reconstituted over a larger area as well.

    So the Leicestershire police commissioner, for example, will be responsible to the Leicestershire Panel alone , not to all the different local authority panels in the county?

    A move very much in the right direction and towards the regionalism which was so unceremoniously thrown out 7-8 years by a referend-um in the North East.

    Consolidation of government organisations is highly desirable, in the much more ‘mobile’ and faster moving community, of the 21stC Ad.

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