18 July 2009

Will Mandy return to the Commons?

We Brown watchers are going to have fun this Summer.  Every utterance, every movement of all the likely successors to Our Dear Leader will be commented upon endlessly as the rumours circulate of any likely plots and coups that may take place in the Autumn.

Exhibit one this Saturday comes from the FT, which reports that Labour is to change the law to allow life peers to quit the upper house and that it will be in force before the election.  The FT speculates whether Mandy will make a move back to the Commons:

Although he is already first secretary – deputy prime minister in all but name – the posts of foreign secretary, chancellor of the exchequer or prime minister would be constitutionally difficult for an unelected peer to perform.

Asked last month by the Financial Times whether he might renounce his peerage and stand again as an MP, Lord Mandelson said: “It’s not legally possible to do that. I am trapped. I believe it is for life.”

He then added: “Of course, you could always change the law.” Although Lord Mandelson insisted he was “teasing”, the first secretary apparently only has to muse aloud and his wishes are fulfilled.

But tackled on the change that will be published on Monday. Mandy said:

The legislation has to get on to the statute book. I’m not anticipating any change for myself. Goodbye.

No, no, no.  This is far from goodbye and leaves the tantalising prospect that Mandy could return to the Commons.

Let us not get that carried away.  As Mandy says, the change has to become law and this will not happen until later this year or early next, leaving little or no time for Mandy to make a return to the Commons before the next election.  Moreover, it is unlikely that even Mandy would want to return before the election by holding a risky by-election in controversial circumstances.

So, it is probably safe to conclude that Mandy will stay put in the Lords.  He would only make a move back to the Commons if the polls were to move and it looked likely that Labour would win or there was to be a hung parliament.

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