Reform the Lords? You're fired, Alan Sugar tells Nick Clegg
The star of BBC1's The Apprentice also offers only lukewarm support to party leader Ed Miliband
ED MILIBAND might be broadly in support of Liberal Democrat proposals to reform the House of Lords, but one of his more independent-minded Labour peers, Lord Sugar of Clapton - aka Amstrad's punchy chief executive and the star of BBC1's The Apprentice - is fiercely dismissive of Nick Clegg's plans for the Upper Chamber.
"I am completely at sea over this Lords reform thing and the reason why [Nick] Clegg has put this forward," he tells The House magazine. "To me it's just like Cameron has just said to him, 'Go on and play over there, leave me alone while I can get on with running the country'. A bit like the AV thing that fell through the floor."
Warming to his theme, Sugar expounds: "This place is made up of experts, right? Some people that have spent the whole of their lives, for example, in the law, in law and order, in medicine, in education. That is the beauty of the House of Lords: to retain that, to keep the other lot who are elected every five years, in check.”
Sugar confesses that he can't understand the desire for reform: "We've got so many other problems to deal with in this country, let alone the world in the economic crisis that we're in, the double dip recession… where does this lie on the list of priorities? Why have we got to waste another 100-odd million pounds messing around with all this stuff.”
Should the coalition manage to railroad their plans for a partly elected senate, Sugar is fairly confident that he will still be gracing the political stage: "If I wasn't put forward by our party, in say Essex or Redbridge, but still wanted to do it, I could put myself forward as an independent, and because of my celebrity, I would get in hands down.”
And what of Labour's hopes at the next election? While many in Westminster have commented favourably about how Ed Miliband has been operating recently, Sugar is distinctly lukewarm in his opinion. Asked if he could see his party leader in No 10, he replies: "Could be, I don't know. You're not going draw me into that answer really.”