New Lib Dem peers announced

The new Liberal Democrat Peers, announced today, are:

  • Catherine (Cathy) Mary Bakewell MBE – former leader of Somerset County Council
  • Rosalind (Olly) Grender MBE – former Director of Communications for Shelter and former Director of Communications for the Liberal Democrats
  • Christine Mary Humphreys – President of the Welsh Liberal Democrats and former Member of the National Assembly for Wales
  • Zahida Manzoor CBE – Former Legal Services Ombudsman and Deputy Chair of the Commission for Racial Equality
  • Brian Paddick – Former Deputy Assistant Commissioner in the Metropolitan Police Service
  • James Palumbo – Co-founder and chairman of Ministry of Sound Group, the international music and entertainment business
  • Jeremy Purvis – Former Member of the Scottish Parliament for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale
  • Alison Suttie – Former Press Secretary to the President of the European Parliament, former Deputy Chief of Staff to Nick Clegg and Election Manager for the 2010 General Election campaign
  • Rumi Verjee CBE – Entrepreneur and philanthropist
  • Sir Ian Wrigglesworth – Liberal Democrat Treasurer and former MP for Teeside Thornaby and Stockton South
  • Making the announcement, Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg said:

    The 10 new Liberal Democrat peers announced today will be at the heart of delivering a stronger economy and a fairer society, enabling everyone to get on in life.

    This list shows the Liberal Democrats’ strength and depth. We are welcoming new peers from all across the UK and with a great variety of expertise and experience. I’m delighted to welcome such a strong selection of public servants, businessmen and women, and entrepreneurs.

    All have excelled in their fields and made a great contribution to politics, charity and to the country. I know that every new peer on this list will make a valuable contribution to British politics, the House of Lords and the Liberal Democrat team in Westminster.

    While vested interests prevented us from reforming the House of Lords in this Parliament, the new peers, along with their Liberal Democrat colleagues, remain committed reformers and will continue to make the case for a smaller and more democratic upper chamber.

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42 Comments

  • I know it’s been on the cards that we would be giving Verjee and Palumbo peerages, but this is really an absolute disgrace.

  • This probably won’t be a popular view, but some people give their time to the party, whereas others give money. They’ve all contributed to the party in some way though. However, if you look at their biographies they’ve also all done good stuff outside the party as well.

    This isn’t the system that I would want, but until we have an elected Lords it’s the system we’re stuck with. I don’t think there’s anyone on this list who won’t make a useful contribution in their new role.

  • Does Domino’s Pizza operate zero hours contracts? And is Alison Suttie really Lord Rennard’s neice? (Thank you Guido)

    You really are a dodgy lot!

  • “This probably won’t be a popular view, but some people give their time to the party, whereas others give money. They’ve all contributed to the party in some way though.”

    Are peerages supposed to be a reward for services rendered – in cash or kind – then?

    I don’t think that can be the case, because if there was an understanding to that effect when the cash or “valuable consideration” was given, then both parties would be liable to two years’ imprisonment:
    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Geo5/15-16/72/section/1

  • Sue Doughty 1st Aug '13 - 12:23pm

    The Federal Executive now has a sub committee looking at Democratic Reform within the Liberal Democrats. The interim peers list is our first challenge, and we will be sending out a consultation paper with the Conference Mailing. We will be asking for comments from party members on how the Interim Peers list is working and what changes would improve party democracy in addition to ensuring that our Party in the House of Lords is strong and effective. As chair of the group I will of course monitor comments here, but when the paper comes out, including being published on line, I hope that members will get in touch with the group to give us their views.

  • Richard Shaw 1st Aug '13 - 12:25pm

    I agree with Anders; until we have an elected Lords we should appoint those who have made valuable contributions to the party, whether that’s time, money or both, to society at large and who will make valuable legislative contributions as Peers.

    I’m very much heartened to see a gender-balanced list and new BAME Peers, though personally I’d be willing to accept appointing slightly more women and people ethnic minorities each time in order to make the overall number of Lib Dem peers more gender balanced and diverse.

  • Richard Shaw 1st Aug '13 - 12:29pm

    That should read “and people from ethnic minorities”, of course.

  • David Allworthy 1st Aug '13 - 12:29pm

    “Whatever happened to that Interim Peers List?”

    Five of the appointments Olly Grender, Brian Paddick, Ian Wrigglesworth, Jeremy Purvis and Christine Humphrey’s are all on the current version of the list.

  • Sue is there much point asking the party what it thinks about the operation of the Interim peers panel. It seems pretty clear that the Leader doesn’t want to use it as a mechanism to chose peers. Something I think members can rightly be aggrieved about although I largly accept Anders point never the less.

  • David Evans 1st Aug '13 - 1:20pm

    @ Simon Shaw

    True, but at least it not selected on the basis of a few people who know someone influential who knows Nick.

  • There seems to be another ‘Martin’ lurking on these pages. Allow me to dissociate myself from the ‘dodgy lot’ snipe. If it were not for the dodgy lot on Tory and Labour benches in the common, we would be well on our way towards House of Lords reform.

  • Helen Tedcastle 1st Aug '13 - 1:53pm

    How to become a Peer: Preferably live in the South East – London is even better; work for Nick or work with Nick or one of his cronies – try to be as ‘on message’ as you can…; then you have a really good chance and won’t be continually passed over. Oh, and you have far less chance if you live in the North or the Midlands.

  • Well it is not quite all across the UK is it.

    Nick has again choosen not to enoble any West Midlanders – it is a disgrace the Liberal Democrat Group in the House of Lords does not have one member from the West Midlands.

    I could name, and give excellent justifications, for about a dozen West Midlanders.

  • Martin Caffrey 1st Aug '13 - 2:25pm

    Only lurking to see if I should vote Libdem again in two years time?

  • @Helen

    “Preferably live in the South East – London is even better”. A fair point, though we should not forget that an awful lot of Londoners moved there from other areas of the country rather than being from there originally.

    @Colin Ross

    I agree about the West Midlands, As a resident there myself, it would be nice to see at least one! Whilst I wouldn’t go as far as to say it was a disgrace, for a region with 2 LD MPs it would be great to bolster local Liberal representation.

  • Tony Greaves 1st Aug '13 - 2:58pm

    New peers should always be judged on what they do after they arrive, not what they have done before they come. I am sure that most of my colleagues will do that with this new list, as indeed I will.

    Having said that, this list seems to have a number of major flaws.

    There appears to be not a single person from the North of England, nor from the E and W MIdlands. We are already seriously light on members from the North (and have no-one from the West MIdlands). This is another London-based list with the obligatory persons from Scotland and Wales. It seems that it’s not just crazy Tory grandees who think the North is desolate and uninhabited.

    There appears to be only one ex or present English Councillor on the list (and not a single sitting Councillor). If this is so it is a disgrace – and perhaps shows just how far the status and importance of Liberal Democrat Councillors has diminished (both in the country and within the party) under the present leadership.

    The original interim peers panel was elected some 14 years ago following widespread anger in the party at what were seen as highhanded appointments of friends and associates by the then Leader. Whether the party has the will and the energy to stage a similar revolt now remains to be seen, Perhaps we have as a result of Coalition just become “another establishment party”.

    It’s ironic that this time round the only really exciting appointment is by Labour.

    Tony

  • Tony Greaves 1st Aug '13 - 3:16pm

    Cathy Bakewell is still a District Councillor. I should also note that Christine Humphreys used to be a Councillor in North Wales.

    But the balance of my comments stands.

    Tony

  • @ATF I think it is a disgrace that the West Midlands doesnt have a Peer when every other region has and this has been brought to the attention of Nick more than once. That is why it is a disgrace.

    The West Midlands is, sadly, not a strong area for us – although we hold two seats we have won two other seats and had an MP through defection in another for a while. An additional Parliamentarian would give a real boost to the region’s Libreal Democrats.

    As I mentioned there are many suitable candidates so I wouldn’t just want a West Midlander for the sake of it but someone who will be a very useful addition to our team in the House of Lords.

    Rant over, for now ; )

    Colin

  • The problem with peerages is that we have far more people who make a good peer than we have places available, and no less is going to be truly representative. More engineers would be good, but then so would more women, more ethnic minorities, more Northerners, at least one West Midlander etc etc.

    @Chris I don’t think people ever give money or time to the party on the condition of getting a peerage especially, as you point out, that would be illegal. But are you really saying that some people would put in 40 years of their life to the party in the hope that one day they might get a peerage? Perhaps it’s more likely with a donor, but there’s easier ways of spending your money in the hope you’ll get a peerage than give it to the Lib Dems. As these are political appointees you would expect them to have given some party service as well as service to the community as a whole.

    @Martin I have no idea if Alison Suttie is Chris Rennard’s niece, but are you seriously saying that if she is that we shouldn’t give her a peerage because of something that a relative may or may not have done? The fact that I don’t know who she is related to suggests she has impressed enough in her own right as an activist and employee of many years.

    @Tony Greaves Isn’t Ian Wrigglesworth a Northerner who continues to have many connections in the North (although I don’t know where his main home is)? I get the impression that Zahida Manzoor may be too. We have at least done better with Scottish and Welsh appointees.

  • Dominic Curran 1st Aug '13 - 3:42pm

    I think the party should appoint the most corrupt and unsuitable people to the Lords to show up what a preposterous system of government it is. Then when people complain we can point to the rotten system of patronage and say ‘well, if you want a better system, vote for one’ (I should say that i don’t know if the new peers are either unsuitable or corrupt, and I’m certainly not sugegsting they are!).

    The next list of proposed peers should include pornogrpahers, arms dealers and tax avoiders, as well as the criminally insane, for starters.

  • “But are you really saying that some people would put in 40 years of their life to the party in the hope that one day they might get a peerage?”

    I certainly can’t see anything like that in my comment. Could it have been a different Chris on a different thread?

  • Patrick Smith 1st Aug '13 - 4:16pm

    I think it is a real seismic achievement that Liberal Democrats are in government for the first time in 70 years and are able to nominate 10 Peers to the H of Ls that a majority of the members would seek to radically reform and thereby reduce in size.

    At the moment the H of L s is bloated with 800 members and there is no formula in law to retire, the least active Peers across the board.

    I support the method of selecting Liberal Democrat Lords and Baronesses by a nomination and vote to be convened by the Interim Peers List.However it appears that as DA has pointed out, 5 of the Peers from the current 10 new Peers,would have been nominated at any rate through this system .

    It is important in future nominations of Lib Dem Peers,during the `Coalition Agreement’ and beyond, that the Elected Peers List be made the subject of a membership ballot to indicate ranking and popularity, before the Leader eventually declares on who is his preferment.

    It is then important to convey a wide disclosure as to the CV entitlement in local community work and or media exposure on behalf of the Liberal Democrats that attributes to those members chosen for Peerages.

  • @Helen Tedcastle 1st Aug ’13 – 1:53pm
    >How to become a Peer

    You missed off the option Nick has been vigorously defending, namely donate £500,000 or more to the Libdems – as is the case with James Palumbo and Rumi Verjee…

    Whilst the other parties do this, I thought the LibDems were more principled, but obviously not.

  • Suzanne Fletcher 1st Aug '13 - 6:00pm

    I agree with Tony Greaves that the real issue, given we have the undemocratic system we still have, is how they work in the House of Lords. There may be a side to people we have not seen yet, or they have not had the opportunity to show.
    as to the the goal of some to get a peerage – from what I have observed in the last year at closer quarters than before – it is flippin hard work in there, if they are doing the job properly.

  • “as to the the goal of some to get a peerage – from what I have observed in the last year at closer quarters than before – it is flippin hard work in there, if they are doing the job properly.”

    Are you implying that it would be OK to buy a peerage provided you worked hard after you’d bought it?

  • Gregan Crawford 1st Aug '13 - 7:46pm

    I agree with Antony Hook – there are far too few engineers and scientists in either chamber. This must be remedied.

  • Martin Pierce 2nd Aug '13 - 7:47am

    Look – we have to grow up as a Party, cast off the comfort blanket of our principles in opposition and accept the responsibilities of being a party of government – and that means we have got to be like the other parties in nominating friends of the Leader and people who have donated a lot of money to the party. Otherwise the public just won’t respect us and take us seriously

  • Unbelievable. If you don’t agree with something you stay away from it. What happened to integrity and principle in the Lib Dems? Or is that politics at any price!

  • Richard Underhill 2nd Aug '13 - 1:25pm

    The party has missed the opportunity to press for term limits for peers, which would help to contain the continuing inflation of their numbers. Elected members at all levels of government hjave term limits, why not peers?

  • Tony – Ian Wrigglesworth’s former constituency of Teesside Thornaby and the Stockton South are definitely ‘ north’ . He was born north of the Tees and has extensive interests on Tyneside as well.

  • Ben Jephcott 2nd Aug '13 - 8:20pm

    I am utterly staggered at the insensitivity and dogged determination to ignore regional representation that this list represents. It is calculated, not an act of omission but of commission, and it is appalling.

    I would like to know what our President and Deputy Leader are going to do to put this right.

  • Sue Doughty 7th Aug '13 - 11:40am

    James, changes were made in July 2010 to include former Parliamentarians on the list. The life of the 2006 list was also extended as so few people had been appointed from the list which explains why the number from the list of 5 (from 10 appointments). As I said above, the party is not totally content about the situation and is currently reviewing the whole process. It is a fact that Lib Dems in Parliament have been working hard to try to bring in an attractive proposition to get people to retire from the Lords, but the job is not a salaried position with payment being made when you turn up, and carries no pension or retirement grant. We may not like this, but the reality is that there is no genuine incentive to retire while this illogical system continues. Likewise we have difficulty in getting support from other parties to force the issue when there is no certainty about future appointments thus voting powers. David Steele has been making heroic efforts to put this right, but one also has to ask whether the public would wear the idea of retirement grants.

    We also have to recognise that appointments to the Lords come from the leaders of Parliamentary Party, and in law the nomination rests solely with each of those individuals. Yes, the Greens voted for their person and the person nominated was a strong contender. We have a far longer list of suitable people and we do need to look at how we work with the leader of the day to improve on the current situation. We do need better regional representation from people who are prepared to put in the time required, and the situation in the Midlands is woeful. However the most recent appointments, which included Ian Wriggleworth and Cathy Bakewell certainly have ensured that we have two people with a strong understanding of the North and the South West and their economies.

  • David Evans 7th Aug '13 - 1:38pm

    @ Sue “the party is not totally content about the situation and is currently reviewing the whole process.”

    I’m afraid that this really is a typical bureaucrat’s solution. Look at what is irrelevant. As I have said elsewhere, the problem is with the decision maker (and all his predecessors) who have all refused to comply, not the process.

    Until we have a leader who is prepared to accept the democratic decisions of the party as made under its constitutional processes, or we become a party whose members are prepared to stand up to the abuse of power within the party just as much as we are prepared to stand up to the abuse of power elsewhere, things will not change and we will fail to deliver what our values demand – “a free, fair and open society”

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