IT’S now clear that at the next General Election voters in England will be presented with a choice between a Conservative manifesto and a manifesto carefully designed not to upset the Conservative supporting media.

In other words, no choice at all.

For voters in England this will be a choice between styles of presentation, not about substance.

Starmer's latest U turn has been to abandon the promise that was made to much fanfare in the anti-independence Scottish media in 2022 of Gordie Broon's underwhelming constitutional review and its plan to abolish the House of Lords and replace it with an elected House of the Nations and Regions.

The plan received considerable publicity on an excited BBC Scotland even though cynical voices [raises hand at the back] warned that there was as much chance of it being implemented as there was of Gordie - or BBC Scotland for that matter - admitting that Gordie's infamous Vow in 2014 was so much hogwash.

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The clear motive for all this publicity about a plan that was never going to be implemented was to create the impression that substantial constitutional change was possible within the UK, with the subtext that Scottish independence was unnecessary as Scotland was poised to gain a powerful new voice in Westminster in the form of representation in this proposed elected House of the Nations and Regions.

The predictable announcement made today that Starmer has ditched the plan will be glossed over quickly by that same media in Scotland which bigged it up when it was proposed in December 2022 and most likely not mentioned at all on BBC Scotland's broadcast news.

Labour has been promising to abolish the House of Lords since 1910.

In the intervening 114 years Labour has enjoyed large majorities in the Commons on a number of occasions, most notably in 1945 when it won a majority of 145 and 1997 when it won a majority of 179. On both these occasions the people wanted radical change, but despite these landslide majorities Labour merely introduced some minor tweaks to the unelected upper chamber, leaving its undemocratic nature substantially intact.

The National: House of Lords

Starmer is now joining this ignoble tradition, saying that a Labour government would make some small changes to the Lords, but would leave it as a bloated unelected chamber stuffed to the gills with the pals and cronies of party leaders, superannuated MPs and massively unpopular politicians who lost their seats in an election and could never get re-elected (we're looking at you, Michael Forsyth).

There is clear public support for abolishing the House of Lords.

A YouGov poll published this week found that 59% of respondents are in favour of abolishing the Lords, this rises to a massive 72% amongst those who voted Labour in 2019.

Even a majority of Conservative and Lib Dem voters support the abolition of the unelected upper house. It is highly likely that an overwhelming majority of SNP voters are in favour of abolishing the Lords. These high levels of support are matched by trivial levels of opposition to the idea of abolishing the Lords. Only 5% said they strongly opposed the idea, while 8% said they somewhat opposed it, giving a total of 13%.

The National: Keir Starmer

However, despite that widespread public support, and the likelihood that a policy of abolishing the Lords would do Labour little political damage, there's a very obvious reason why no Labour prime minister is ever going to abolish the House of Lords.

Prime ministers obtain too much political clout from the power of patronage that the current system grants them and they will never want to give that up.

The ability to award peerages gives a prime minister a powerful carrot to dangle in front of a potentially rebellious MP. The knowledge that if they keep their nose clean and are faithful and loyal to the prime minister's line they, too, will be rewarded with a peerage gives MPs a powerful incentive to stay in line and not rock the boat.

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The newly elected Michael Shanks shows every indication of treading the same sycophantic career path.

No Labour prime minister will ever abolish the Lords because they have a vested interest in keeping the current system intact, who cares if it's an offence to democracy.

There's only one way that people in Scotland can ever get substantial constitutional change, and that's with independence, no matter how many breathless reports BBC Scotland broadcasts about the latest attention seeking fantasy politics wheeze from Gordie Broon.

Douglas Ross defends the indefensible

Douglas Ross is typically rude, graceless, and boorish during his weekly appearances at First Minister's Questions.

So, it should come as no surprise that he defended Rishi Sunak's rude, graceless, and boorish performance at Prime Minister's Questions when he chose to make a jibe about transgender women in an attempt to score a cheap political point against Keir Starmer just seconds after being informed that the mother of transgender teenager Brianna Ghey was present in the Palace of Westminster.

Sunak's crass and flippant comment infuriated Brianna's father, who demanded that the Prime Minister make an apology.

Sunak, of course, did no such thing, doubling down on his comments and accusing Starmer of politicising the issue, which is pretty rich coming from a Prime Minister who seeks to weaponise attacks on a vulnerable community as a part of the Tories' culture wars strategy. Apparently, it's Sunak who is the real victim here.

The National: Douglas Ross and Rishi Sunak

Ross was asked was asked at an event in Edinburgh on Friday whether he would call on the Prime Minister to apologise after he made what has been described by Brianna's father as a "degrading" remark.

Ross declined to answer the question only saying that it did not help to "make this a political issue."

Making a tiny and vulnerable minority a political issue is precisely what the Tories have been doing for months, and doing so in a cynical attempt to create a wedge issue.

Now, their own callous cruelty has bitten them on the bum.