In case you missed it, the government's plan to cut tax credits (a form of social security payment) to the working poor has attracted some opposition both in other parties and on their own backbenches. Lacking a majority to overturn it in the House of Commons, the Liberal Democrats are tabling a 'fatal motion' to reject it in the House of Lords, while the Labour Party is offering a delaying motion in that house.
The Conservative Party is furious. They say there's a constitutional convention that the unelected House of Lords doesn't overturn finance bills, and manifesto commitments. The opposition points out that the tax credit cuts weren't in the manifesto (the Prime Minister even promised they wouldn't happen) and that if the Tories were serious, they'd actually legislate for the cuts rather than use a statutory instrument.
Nevertheless, the Labour Party in particular seems very scared by the Conservative threats to flood the Lords with new Tory peers and take other forms of revenge: the peer tabling the fatal motion has discussed these threats over the last few days.
I don't know what Labour's problem is. The facts are these:
1. The Liberal Democrats tried to get House of Lords reform through when they were in coalition.
2. The Conservative Party blocked it. They wanted the unelected house to carry on as it always has (it's massively bigger than the elected chamber now).
3. Now the Tories are threatening the Lords to stop it doing what it's allowed to do under the rules the Conservatives fought to uphold.
Labour should call their bluff. The Tories opposed constitutional reform and must now face the consequences. They can't moan about having a democratic mandate having fought strenuously to avoid making the Lords have one. If the Tories do stuff the Lords with placemen, hopefully the electorate will start to vote for actual democracy. Or perhaps they won't.