Last Wednesday's Queen's Speech saw Britain's hereditary monarch announcing government plans to effectively abolish the House of Lords, the British Parliament's unelected second chamber. It is hard to imagine that the queen did not feel the irony. But she may still have the last laugh, as proposals to move to a largely elected upper house are creating potentially insurmountable divisions within Britain's coalition government.
The Queen's Speech, outlining the government's legislative priorities for the next parliamentary session, was delivered less than a week after local elections that saw both coalition partners suffer extensive losses. Over 400 Conservative councilors were defeated, causing the party to lose control of district, county and city authorities across the country. The Conservatives' junior coalition partner, the Liberal Democrats, fared even worse, coming a humiliating fourth in London's mayoral race behind the Green Party.
The Lib Dem and Tory losses reflect growing dissatisfaction with two years of government austerity that has not only failed to kick-start the British economy, but last month plunged the country back into recession. If last week's election results were repeated in a general election, Prime Minister David Cameron would suffer the same fate as President Nicolas Sarkozy, his conservative counterpart in France.