Lib Dems in the New Year Honours

The New Year Honours were announced late last night. We have trawled through the list and have spotted a couple of prominent Liberal Democrats.

But we are sure there are others known to you, our readers.  Please let us know in the comments about anyone we have missed, and we’ll add them to this post.

First, Ed Davey has been made a knight.  He was the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change for the last three years of the Coalition, and before that a junior Minister in the Business Department. He served as MP for Kingston & Surbiton from 1997 to 2015.

Cllr Sylvia Emmott, a former Mayor of Kendal, has been awarded the BEM for public and political service. Mark Pack called her one of the unsung heroes of the 2015 election, and quoted Tim Farron who said “she embodies to me the true community politician. She knows her community inside out and knows the issues they face – but more than that, she fixes them.”

Sylvia worked as a teacher for 30 years at Queen Katherine School, and has since been a governor at both QKS and Kendal College for seven years.

Sylvia has also been a dedicated town and district councillor in her Kendal Stonecross ward for many years, and has also served as Mayor of Kendal. She is currently Chairman of the Council at SLDC for the second time.

Sylvia is also known for her commitment to charity work. During her first stint as Chairman of the Council, she raised £8,000 for Paddlers for Life, which enabled the charity to pay for a boat which is used for cancer survivors to encourage physical activity and camaraderie. As Mayor of Kendal, her chosen charity was the Gateway Centre, for which she raised over £11,000 with matched funding. Most recently, as Chairman of the Council for the second time, Sylvia has chosen to support the Village Agents

Tim added

I know I can speak for all of Kendal when I say that Sylvia is thoroughly deserving of this honour. I am delighted that Sylvia’s dedication to her community over the last 40 years has been recognised in this way. She has selflessly given a huge amount of time and effort, and has made an enormous difference to the communities around her. Sylvia embodies the very best of Kendal – community-minded and hard-working. Sylvia has never sought the headlines, but she thoroughly deserves this public recognition of her incredible contribution to Kendal.

As pointed out by Peter Black, below, ” there is also David Hando, a former Welsh Lib Dem councillor in Newport who got his award for services to football. He virtually rescued Newport County from oblivion and set in chain events that saw them return to the football league a few seasons ago.”

Linda Gorn, who stood for the party in the 2006 Moray Scottish Parliament by-election also gets an award for community service.


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  • Russell Simpson 31st Dec '15 - 8:38am

    Congratulations? Or Cronyism?

  • We as a party have to be critical of the honours system and the nomination procedures to the House of Lords in order to be true to our democratic roots. I write of course as someone who is unlikely to be a beneficiary of either process but who has seen at close hand the real pleasure of colleagues and relatives get from receiving royal (aka public recognition) of their contribution. The problem is that mixed in with the laudable endorsement of good works are systems of patronage, cronyism and party control. The fact that more of our 2015 MPs ended up with knighthoods than seats ought to be some cause for concern. I used to jest that the PLP was getting more like Camelot every day but the prospect or actuality of an honour can cheer up a hard-pressed MP when electorate are not as appreciative as expected- and disarm a little one’s critical faculties. We as Lib Dems have reason to be wary of the honours system.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 31st Dec '15 - 9:37am

    Can I just have my annual whinge about the way these awards are presented? Married women appear on the list as (First names), Mrs (surname), which is completely different to the way men appear – e.g. all the same regardless of marital status.

    It really is time for the Cabinet Office to drag themselves into the 20th century.

  • John Barrett 31st Dec '15 - 11:02am

    John – It is already to late for our party to claim it will be true to its democratic roots with regards to honours and peerages . Your comment that more of the 2015 MPs ended up with knighthoods than seats adds to the fact that we used to have more knights in the Commons than women MPs. Many in the party may now follow our Parliamentary track record and see the prospect of an honour is now more likely than winning a seat in Parliament.

    In the last five years the party has regularly honoured friends of the leader and donors, in some cases regardless of their lack of commitment to the party and this has resulted in the Lib-Dems behaving and looking exactly the same as the Conservative and Labour parties. It is understandable that MPs who lost their seats would like to remain at Westminster, but when we send them back, despite the electorate’s wishes, we should then not be surprised when the public ask, “Why we have lost our democratic roots? and, “What’s the point of voting Liberal Democrat.”

    Unless the answer to that second question becomes clear very quickly, early in 2016, we will be in for some bad election results in May.

  • As some of you, including John Pugh, will know I was given an honour in 2014 along with a good number of other councillors and community activists. I was certainly not nominated by the Leader. The vast majority of recipients are nominated by members of the public and I was very touched to have been put forward by my colleagues.

    The independent honours committee spends about a year researching each nominee. I have been involved in this process from the other side having nominated someone in the past for community service.

    This regular knocking of the system and the easy assumption that it is all about political patronage means that the accolade given to hundreds of community activists is being undervalued.

  • @ Mary Reid

    I respect your own award, Mary.

    The best way to stop…… “This regular knocking of the system and the easy assumption that it is all about political patronage means that the accolade given to hundreds of community activists is being undervalued”. ……is to abolish awards for anyone other than community activists.

    Frankly giving knighthoods to ex MP’s invites (and gets) derision of the ‘who the heck do they think they are’ variety. As to peerages, to be awarded an additional pension in addition to the very generous H of C one again invites derision.

    I remember a comment by Jo Grimond overheard during a visit to the Whips Office back in 1965 when a former (and indeed very worthy) Liberal M.P. had taken his seat in full robes : “Oh, and did he look pretty ?”…

  • “The honours commit spends about a year researching each nominee”. Not in my experience.
    I have two words for the honours system, just like the House of Lords, scrap it.

  • John Barrett will no doubt correct me if I am wrong, but the only Lib Dem MPs who were defeated at the 2015 election who have so far received peerages are, I believe, Lynne Featherstone and Lorely Burt, and it is hard indeed to see their elevation to the House of Lords as a scandalous act for which we shall be punished in May 2015.

    In any case, as David Raw’s post indirectly reminds us by its reference to Donald Wade (or, as it might be, Frank Byers), MPs often lose their seats in the House of Commons very narrowly and through no fault of their own, and the House of Lords has often greatly benefited by the elevation to it of such individuals.

  • May 2016, not May 2015 !

  • adrian sanders 31st Dec '15 - 4:24pm

    There’s this guy I know who did well at university and instead of taking a well-paid job in the city came and worked for the Party at Westminster in an insecure job on a pittance when we were hardly registering in the opinion polls.

    He went on to nurse a constituency – at great personal expense as any PPC will know – that few expected us to win – and to romp home with a majority of 56. (I say romp as that was four and a half times my own majority at the same General Election)

    He held the seat 3 times until May this year and now like all the other defeated MPs has to seek employment in the real world.

    As with all former MPs, including those with Ministerial experience, paid jobs don’t come easy. I know three defeated colleagues from 2000 who have not worked since. Even for those who continued to work as lawyers or Doctors or in other professions while in Parliament full-time employment opportunities are hard to come by. There is a price defeated MPs pay after leaving the House, even higher if their Party no longer has any political influence.

    Short of a £300 a day for life Peer’s job in the Lords, a knighthood, rightly or wrongly, is the least that could be bestowed on someone in the position of the former MP I know. Like it or not a knighthood attracts better paid job offers and more prestigious charity posts all of which help overcome the disadvantage of being an ex-MP in the labour market.

    The honours system is wrong, but it isn’t going to go away in a hurry and it is the easiest thing in the world to ask others to forgo something that is unlikely to be bestowed upon themselves. That’s harsh, but it would be helpful if people could come up with a more liberal system to help ex-MPs, Councillors and Party staff before scrapping the current imperfect one.

  • Eddie Sammon 31st Dec '15 - 4:47pm

    I like the honours system, mainly because I don’t really like peerages. I don’t think it is about the Monarchy or the Empire. For me it is about recognising service and if we didn’t have it then people would want to be rewarded financially more instead.

    Of course there is some patronage and cronyism, but overall I like it.

  • Tony Dawson 31st Dec '15 - 4:58pm

    Is there any list anywhere of Lib Dems who have politely turned down awards offered under this ludicrous archaic system?

  • Matt (Bristol) 31st Dec '15 - 5:29pm

    It is important to not muddle patronage with regard to the Lords (or the Privy Council) with slightly different issue of patronage with regards to titles and honours that do not carry the privileges of the Lords.

    For what it’s worth, if I ruled the world, or at least the UK, I’d have any appointment to the Lords of ex-MPs elected by MPs, by STV, and have that done well before the relevant General election, not after, so the Lords stopped being a consolation prize, and started being a sign of cross-party respect by one’s peers (if you’ll excuse the phrase)

    Personally, I’d also have a separate specific honour for all ex-MPs and perhaps also disinguished civil servants who meet a basic standard of conduct (Honourable Knight? Honourable Counsellor? Knight of Parliament? Knight of Westminster?) so that there was a distinction between those ordinary citizens who are being celebrated for excellence outside their professional life and those public servants who are being rewarded for persevering and excelling in their vocation / career.

    What Adrian Sanders says is very true, but does not remove the fact that the diversoity of usages we want to put the honours ‘system’ to, makes it vulnerable to abuse.

  • Simon Banks 1st Jan '16 - 3:50pm

    The House of Lords at least has a political role. The honours system is degraded (any honour for a man like Lynton Crosby does that), but more fundamentally, we shouldn’t see people any differently for some extra letters on their names and as for rewarding people who’ve done a fine job, the knowledge of having done a fine job, plus any pay attached, should be sufficient reward.

  • “I know three defeated colleagues from 2000 who have not worked since.”

    Out of interest how have they been gettin by. What jobs have they been applying for? Have they done any retrainning? Your suggestion seems ot be that all ex-MPs should get a K as it will help them find a job. So why not all party staff who are in an equal – possibly worse position. In fact if its such a help why not give any unemployed person who has been out of work more than 6 months a knighthood.

    Lets face it, MPs get knighthoods for basically having turned up to do their jobs for which they were paid. Compare that to what the ordinaries have to do to get a knighthood.

    This love of privilege and status in the LIb Dems pretty much makes them meaningless as a party the will deliver serious political reform. All people are interested in is getting their bit of the status quo.

  • Mary Reid
    The point, surely, is that people should not automatically (or as in the case of ex-Mps, usually,if they want it, unless they have upset someone influential) gain honours because they have performed certain roles. In addition, there is the archaic nature of reference back to the British Empire – WHY? I begin to think it is being kept because the Queen can’t let go! Few people have objection to the idea of acknowledging people for exceptional levels of public service in their local or professional communities etc. Because someone has been promoted to particular levels should not per se qualify them for an honour.

  • Defeated colleagues from 2000 who have not worked since ?

    Firstly, 2000 wasn’t even a GE year was it?

    Secondly, if somebody has been unable to find ANY work in 15 years were they really MP material?

    Genuinely don’t understand.

  • Hywel ” This love of privilege and status in the LIb Dems pretty much makes them meaningless as a party the will deliver serious political reform. All people are interested in is getting their bit of the status quo.”

    Yes, absolutely spot on.

  • In fairness to Adrian Sanders, “2000” in Adrian Sanders’s post is certainly a typo for 2010. But the confusion that the typo has caused to Crewegwyn does point out the need for all of us to check both for factual accuracy and for typos in whatever we contribute to this site.

  • adrian sanders 2nd Jan '16 - 10:26am

    Thanks Hugh p I didn’t even spot it after it had been posted! It should indeed read 2010.

    In answer to Hywel I have no idea what jobs were applied for or retraining attempted. All I do know as the only Lib Dem on the Executive of the Former Members’ Association is that it isn’t only our former MPs who have long periods of unemployment, or under employment, to look forward to after they leave the House, whether voluntarily or via the votes of the public.

    If it were true that “MPs get knighthoods for basically having turned up to do their jobs for which they were paid.” Then all former MPs would be Knights or Dames. Clearly they are not and I would not suggest they should.

    Having in the past worked in the world of the European Social Fund where projects are run specifically for those facing disadvantage in the Labour market I have to say objectively that many former MPs face a particular disadvantage and even prejudice in the Labour market.

    I can say this and view the honour’s system objectively because back in 2010 I was approached by a senior Party figure to be told I had many friends in the Lords who look forward to me joining them when I am ready, but that was unlikely to happen if I voted against tuition fees.

    Most people turning down the possibility of £300 a day for life to carry on their hobby without having to service and face an electorate again would be considered what? But as I wrote earlier, it’s easy to oppose a system you are unlikely to be a beneficiary of. I simply make the case that to get rid of it you will need something more liberal to replace it with.

  • Helen Dudden 3rd Jan '16 - 11:16am

    The funding comes from tax payers. As the reforms continue for the disabled, £300 a day is given out to those who may or may not turn up. Could this be classified as benefits? Like those being cut to some very unwell people.

    Your Party on one hand, dismiss the House of Lords and on the other hand grap the chance to join them.

    A mixed message to those who once voted for you.

  • Doesn’t Adrian’s remark that he “was approached by a senior Party figure to be told I had many friends in the Lords who look forward to me joining them when I am ready, but that was unlikely to happen if I voted against tuition fees.” rather make my point about the honours system being a tool of patronage and party control and are people basically happy with this ? It’s clearly not all the system is, but a system that confounds bribes with appreciation of worthy efforts and uses at times the latter to mask the former is a system to be wary of.

  • Helen Dudden 3rd Jan '16 - 5:13pm

    Yes, in politics its expected. I often feel all those who worked tirelessly to support what they believed in, are often let down by those they helped.

    The continued perks annoy me, and the way it continues. Political status should be classed as a profession not as a free for all with tax payers money.

  • David Faggiani 4th Jan '16 - 12:08pm

    Agree with Matt (Bristol), above.

  • Gerard Thompson 6th Jan '16 - 10:04am

    For those of you who are long-time users of one particular Social Media site, you will be aware that you can now view your “memories”, contributions that had taken place on that day from years past. I was more than surprised to see only last year I had taken to railing against the Honours System, citing in less diplomatic terms some of the objections listed above. I must of had someone in mind on that occasion.
    Today I find myself more sanguine, particularly in light of Frank Doran’s honour – a man worthy in every respect and who would I am sure have been equally thrilled by the recognition. It put me in mind of the time I had actively taken part in the process to have another community stalwart recognised about 12 years ago and the MBE was duly given. Such pleasure for all as we knew how much it meant.
    The blatant cronyism has cheapened this. As Liberals I think we all flinch at patronage however I for the moment do not have an alternative to suggest. The honours system I understand is chosen by committee of those from a pool deemed worthy. The Upper House I think is a separate matter which is almost entirely patronage. Whatever happened to the “People’s Peers”?

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