Five Liberal Democrat ex-MPs turn down the ermine

Honourable mentions for Messrs Cable, Laws, Alexander, Baker and Hughes who have, according to the Guardian, turned down or said they are not interested in offers of peerages in the dissolution honours:

Four senior Liberal Democrat politicians defeated in the general election, including former business secretary Vince Cable, have turned down offers of a peerage from Nick Clegg in the dissolution honours list. It is understood that David Laws, the former education minister, Simon Hughes, the former justice minister, and former Treasury chief secretary Danny Alexander have also decided to reject a chance to sit in the House of Lords.

The Lords is likely to be a battleground for the government since the Conservatives do not have an overall majority in the upper chamber, even though in practice there are strict limits on how far peers can resist central planks of legislation agreed by the Commons. The Liberal Democrats currently have 101 peers, Labour 214, the Conservatives 178 and crossbenchers 224.

Hughes, a former deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, who lost his Southwark and Bermondsey seat to Labour, told guests at a recent birthday party: “I don’t believe in an unelected second chamber. When you see the list I will not be on it. I am not going there.”

I would hope that in any appointments made in the Dissolution honours, proper regard is given to diversity, especially given that we have an all-male, all white all middle aged Commons party.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • Some of them may believe they have a good chance of getting back into the HoC in 2020 — or even earlier.

  • If there are peerages to be handed out, we should make the best of them. Lords reform is not going anywhere soon, certainly not for the next five years and on current trends, little change for the next fifty.

    Since peerages are for life, I would suggest that the younger (and more diverse) the appointees are the better. We should at least try to maximise full value!

    I am not sure “I don’t believe in an unelected second chamber” is realistic. I do not believe that elections by FPTP are democratic, but this did not stop me doing what I could in the election campaign. In fact if the Lords only had members who strongly believed in an unelected second chamber, prospects for reform would be even more difficult to realise.

  • With 8 MPs and 100+ Lords it seems ridiculous that we can appoint any new ones.

  • It doesn't add up... 16th May '15 - 3:07pm

    So it’s Lord Davey, Lady Featherstone, Lord Huppert?

  • Bill le Breton 16th May '15 - 3:41pm

    If it is, expect to hear explosions from Bruce, Campbell, Foster and Beith.

  • Harry Matthews 16th May '15 - 3:42pm

    House of Lords is full of old, middle white men – I hope Nick will be brave enough to appoint as many diverse candidates as possible – especially female, LGBT, BME, disabled and under 30’s people. Only way to break up the system.

  • paul barker 16th May '15 - 3:45pm

    If you add up both Houses of Parliament we get about 8%, the same as our vote share, so we arent over-represented. Obviously, whether ex MPs go to The Lords is up to them but we should take up all the places we can get.
    On the wider point, The Lords is a bit less Democratic than The Commons but only a bit. MPs are chosen by a minority or a majority of their constituents. The PM is then chosen by a bare majority of MPs. The PM then chooses members of The Cabinet & The Lords. We dont see Ministers as not having a Democratic mandate so whats different about The Lords ?

  • But until the Lords is reformed, this is the system we work with. After the terrible results the party needs to exploit its numerical strength in the Lords so that we are represented by competent and experienced spokesmen in the media. We need to hear Cable et al in Parliament.

  • “until the Lords is reformed, this is the system we work with”

    And so long as people keep saying that, there will never be reform.

  • Youthfulness in new peer appointees certainly carries the prospect that they may have long and fruitful careers on our benches, but it is instructive to recall that among Jeremy Thorpe’s nominees for peerages Tim Beaumont (Lord Beaumont of Whitley), created a Life Peer in 1967 at the age of 39, eventually left us for the Greens, and that Simon Mackay (Lord Tanlaw), created a Life Peer in 1971 at the age of 37, did not join the Liberal Democrat party on its formation and has I think sat on the cross benches in the House of Lords ever since.

  • David Warren 16th May '15 - 5:46pm

    When it comes to diversity, we also need to look at underrepresented social groups.

    How many members of the House of Lords have worked in manual jobs?

  • All issues with the Lords aside, I am glad that the five people named here have turned down the option of entering the Lords. We cannot be seen as a jobs for the old boys party that hands out positions for life to loyal ministers who lose their seats.

    Given that we’re stuck with the place for the next five years, we should be looking further afield for any appointments we might be awarded, if any. People could be forgiven for thinking that the Liberal Democrats are a party with opportunity only for older white men. Things seem to have come to that, but we need to challenge that situation. Ethnic minorities, women, younger candidates, and crucially with demographics aside, energetic campaigners who could use the platform in the Lords to further their own existing campaigning activities outside of parliament are needed.

  • Tom Maclean 16th May '15 - 6:49pm

    This is VERY good news.Ive NEVER felt the Lords is for defeated MPS to get another bite of the cherry without the need to bother voters for support.It just seems WROng!.I recall John Major plopping Linda Chalker into the lords when she lost her seat.She even carried-on as International Development Secretary.Seemed a squalid,grubby way to USE the upper house,in my view.Im wondering id Cameron with shove defeated MOP,Esther McVey in there?.Id not be surprised.

  • Ed Shepherd 16th May '15 - 7:11pm

    So how does someone get to be a member of the House Of Lords? I know lots of people who have worked hard to improve the lives of their communities. People who help the disabled, the poor, the marginalised and the sick. People who deserve a chance to have the sort of campaigning platform that a Lord gets. But none of the people I know are ex-MPs. How do wonderful people like the ones I know get into the House Of Lords?

  • Peter Andrews 16th May '15 - 7:47pm

    A real shame if Vince has turned down a peerage as we need his expertise in Parliament

  • Roger Heape 16th May '15 - 8:04pm

    lets get back to our raducal roots.We should be campaigning for abolishing the Lords not tinkrering with reform.

  • What about rewarding some local councillors with strong records and long service. Joe Otten surely deserves consideration for his loaylty to Nick and he would bring some much needed gravitas to the Lords.

  • Tony Greaves 16th May '15 - 10:16pm

    The Dissolution List is supposed to be for long-serving former MPs. So don’t expect people who are not that. Just saying. There won’t be too many LDs – we are already over-represented. (The last list of six LDs included five prominent Councillors and ex-Councillors).

    Tony Greaves

  • Tony Greaves 16th May '15 - 10:18pm

    And WHY WHY WHY does LDV continue to illustrate any piece on the Lords with a misleading picture from the Opening of Parliament instead of the House of Lords at work? No – we do not wear the ermine-trimmed dressing gowns all the time…or hardly ever.

    Tony Greaves

  • You want praise for someone turning down a seat in the Lords?
    Your Party has truly lost all grip on reality.
    Over 100 UNELECTED Peers with the audacity to claim Liberal values. Will you have the abolition of the Lords in a manifesto – NOT reform – Abolition.

    Can anyone justify the acceptance of an unelected house. “…we do not wear ermine trimmed dressing gowns all the time” – What an insulting remark. I’m unelected and vote on issues without a mandate but not too flashy when doing so.

  • I really don;t think it’s right for people who are defeated at an election to then be made a peer.

  • Kevin McNamara 16th May '15 - 11:04pm


    Our manifesto is crystal clear. We want a 100% elected House of Lords. We don’t want to abolish it.

  • Stephen Hesketh 16th May '15 - 11:05pm

    Tony Greaves 16th May ’15 – 10:18pm
    “No – we do not wear the ermine-trimmed dressing gowns all the time…or hardly ever.”

    Tony, this completely destroys my image of you popping out to the chippy in yours on a Saturday evening. Disappointed of Southport.

  • Stephen Hesketh 16th May '15 - 11:12pm

    David Blake 16th May ’15 – 10:54pm
    “I really don;t think it’s right for people who are defeated at an election to then be made a peer.”

    Quite right David, certainly not while there are people willing to pay good money to buy such influence in government 🙁

    The noble Lord Greaves will be able to provide the detail but I believe he was elected by the party and not appointed via the leader’s patronage.

  • I’m female, LGBT, Northern, have worked in manual labour yet also have law degree…

    I’m not holding my breath for the phone call.

  • John Barrett 17th May '15 - 11:29am

    Looks like our Parliamentary team, with over 100 Peers, will have roughly 8% MPs and bearing in mind that we polled 8% at the General election in Scotland. It’s about as close to PR as we are likely to get in the near future. No mention about all the former Scottish MPs looking for a seat in the Lords.

    Louis is right. It’s time to call a halt to this nonsense and to put any energy into reform of the second chamber.

  • “It’s about as close to PR as we are likely to get in the near future. ”

    Can you imagine the number of UKIP peers under PR?

    No, a chance similarity between number of peers and the overall result for one party does not make anything “close to PR.” The HoL does not exist to represent the people and the peers are not responsible to the people at large or any particular group of them. I thought we were supposed to be, among other things, democrats.

  • The House of Lords badly needs to reform but we have to work with the system as it is. So, although I do applaud those in the party who, on principle, do not wish to be a part of it. I also feel very strongly that if our views are to be heard then the pragmatist in me says , we have a voice in the upper house let us use it!

  • Denis Loretto 17th May '15 - 8:29pm

    While I like many others am totally against the absence of a democratic mandate for the House of Lords and applaud the decision taken by my own former MP Simon Hughes, I find it ironic that we may need the ermine -clad brigade a lot in the coming years. For a start it might well be that the H.O.L. saves the Human Rights Act. Stick around folks.

  • I think it is a shame if candidates who want to rip up the Lords and start again didn’t take the opotunity to pursue that aim from within. However there are plenty of examples of people going native so I can see why some would not want to risk it.

  • John Barrett 17th May '15 - 9:05pm

    David-1 My comments on PR were simply meant to show that we are in no way going to move towards PR in the near or distant future.

    Sadly our party now has a record as bad as any of the other parties for for giving those who give large sums of money to the party a peerage. While Simon may have turned down a peerage, one was given to the night club owner who “generously” funded his campaigns.

    This then answers Ed shepherd’s question, “How do people get into the Lords”. The answer for many is to write out a large cheque to any party and if the cheque is large enough and in the post – the honour will be in the return post.

  • Cllr Martin Hunt 17th May '15 - 11:42pm

    Can I have one please. I’ve just retired after being a councillor for 28 years ….. only joking …. not!

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