Happy Jack

One of the changes in the Cabinet reshuffle that has drawn the most speculation has been that of Jack Straw from the Foreign Office to the position of Leader of House of Commons, as Justin of Chicken Yoghurt fame notes here:

Question: Why has Jack Straw gone? Is it because he ruled out bombing Iran and you want to keep that option on the table? What did he do wrong?

Tony Blair: He was my campaign manager to become Leader of the Labour Party, and what he will do as Leader of the House is far more than the traditional Leader of the House role. He will effectively oversee what is a difficult programme being carried through Parliament (party political content) and any notion that it is linked to a decision about invading Iran – which incidentally we are not going to do – any notion that it is linked to a such a decision is utterly absurd.

There does seem to be some genuine puzzlement surrounding Jack’s apparent demotion to a lesser position in Government, even if Leader of the House is the usual halfway house that former incumbents of one of the big three Ministerial positions (Chancellor, Home Secretary, Foreign Secretary) tend to enter on their way to being put out to pasture – after all, he and Condi did seem to be getting along just fine only a few short weeks ago.

Of course, a little background research offers up an alternative explanation for Jack’s sudden change of position – in addition to the general business of organising and timetabling the Government’s legislative programme, the one clear policy role that falls to the Leader of the House is that of dealing with reforms to the working arrangements and practices of Parliament – which conveniently includes the little matter of the future composition and role of the House of Lords.

Knowing this, one of course becomes rather curious as to exact how Jack stands on this issue – or to be more specific, how he voted in February 2003, when the matter of the composition of the second chamber was last put to the vote; for which I’m endebted (as usual) to the efforts of the Public Whip in making this information readily available…

…and get what we find? Go on, have a guess…

Yes, if you guessed that dear old Jack, voted for a completely appointed House of Lords, and against any of the three options which would have given either a fully elected second chamber or one with a majority of elected members, then you’d be absolutely spot-on – just check out his voting record here

With Harriet Harman out of loop on reform of the House of Lords following her husbands bout of whistle-blowing on the cash for peerages issue, and Blair’s favourite Minister for Shite, Charlie Falconer, still running the show at the Department for Constitutional Affairs, we now find that the Ministers who will take a key role in steering the process of the reforming the Lords are all opposed to anything other than an appointed second chamber – just like their boss, Tony.

Oh dear, what a surprise…

2 thoughts on “Happy Jack

  1. What if the point of Straw’s appointment was not that he wants a fully appointed House of Lords, but that Blair wants to strip it of its powers, even if some/all of it is elected?

  2. Jack Straw is about as useful as a limp piece of lettuce. Not only has he shaken Robert Mugabe’s hand – you know the evil dictator of Zimbabwe, but he condems the Danish cartoons for being offensive to Muslims – large Muslim electorate by any chance Jack? He said nothing against Iqbal Sacranie for his homophobic comments…maybe he has learned too many lessons from history by buying votes to appease some voters for the Iraq war. Afterall, the famous Lord Shaftesbury when he was Lord Ashley, spent

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