17 May 2011 4:57 PM

Clegg's ordeal

Nick Clegg has had a miserable hour trying to sell his Lords reforms to the Commons. Actually, "sell" is putting it too strongly as he set out the arguements without much passion.

For Labour, Sadiq Khan was savage about the "dog's dinner" proposals. "Let's be frank, Lords reform is not near the top of any of our constituents' priorities," he jeered - drawing loud "hear hears" from the Tory benches opposite.

Then it was the turn of the Tory right - Bernard Jenkin, John Redwood, Bill Cash, who clearly relished a chance to rag their Coalition partner.

The solidly impressive John Thurso was Clegg's best supporter, pointing his finger first at the Labour benches then towards the Other Place. "Those dinosaurs over there are just feathering the nests of the dinausaurs down there!"

Overall, the support for Clegg was muted. Cameron turned up, but what ought to worry the Coalition leadership was the unwillingness of middle ground Tories to help Clegg out.  Goodwill is ebbing away on both sides of the governing partnership.

Joe Murphy


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