So, who are these new Liberal Democrat peers, then?

Earlier today, we told you about the ten new Liberal Democrat peers. We thought you might like to know a little more about them.

Cathy Bakewell

Cathy was first elected to Somerset County Council in 1993 and has since gained expertise in a number of fields: fire and rescue, policing, equalities, safeguarding children and further education. Her appointment bolsters our local government experience in the Lords. She also served on Ruth Kelly’s 2007 commission which looked at the barriers to people becoming councillors. She may have similar ideas about addressing our under-representation of women in other areas.

Olly Grender

Olly Grender’s career has spanned the world of politics, government and the voluntary and corporate sectors.  She has run communications operations and campaigns in all four, advising or working for a vast range of organisations. She has an extensive knowledge of devising and implementing communications strategies in a political environment. She was the Party’s Communications Director in Paddy Ashdown’s era and in the months after the Coalition was formed, she was a familiar place as a Liberal Democrat commentator. She then went into Downing Street for a year as Nick Clegg’s chief communications person.

She worked for Shelter and is still passionate about tackling homelessness and in dealing with bullying. She also has personal experience of infertility, having undergone IVF 8 years ago.

Christine Humphreys

Former Welsh Assembly member Christine Humphreys is President of the Welsh Liberal Democrats and she is also a former councillor.

In the Welsh Assembly she was the Liberal Democrat spokeswoman on post-16 education, a member of the Standards Committee and a trustee of the Assembly Members’ Pension Scheme. She made numerous media appearances giving individual interviews and participating in panel debates in both Welsh and English.

Kirsty Williams praised her:

She has had dedicated her life to serving others, either through politics or teaching. She has also played an important role, as party president, in developing and mentoring young female candidates during the Westminster, Assembly and council elections.

Zahida Manzoor

Trained as a nurse and midwife, Zahida’s career has taken her in 3 different directions, from serving on health authorities making strategic decisions on health care, to being Legal Services Ombudsman for England and Wales. She’s also a former deputy chair of the Commission for Racial Equality and is the patron of the Ethnic Minority Disability Association. She’s also from Bradford, so can give the north of England an added presence in Parliament.

Brian Paddick

Brian Paddick has twice been this party’s London Mayoral candidate and is frequently featured in the media as an authority on policing matters, having spent 30 years as a Police Officer, and being the highest ranking openly gay officer in the UK, as Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.

Since leaving the police, he has been involved with charities helping young offenders and working with young people.

He was also, famously, a contestant on I’m a Celebrity get me out of here in 2008.

James Palumbo

James Palumbo is best known as the c0-founder of Ministry of Sound which makes him probably our coolest member of the House of Lords. He also has an interest in drug culture, having worked with the then Home Office Minister on the Misuse of Drugs Act 1994. He has also been involved in youth initiatives such as persuading young people to use their votes.

Jeremy Purvis

Jeremy Purvis was MSP for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale from 2003-11. He was also the brains behind the Scottish Party’s manifesto in 2011. His radical ideas for Scottish Water and regional development banks were outshone by Coalition woes and he’s seen in Scotland as a very wise head. He also has an interest in assisted dying, having introduced a bill on the subject in 2005.

Willie Rennie has given him a new role within the party on his appointment, saying:

I am delighted Jeremy has been persuaded to return to the frontline of Scottish politics. He is somebody of great talent and ability who has much more to offer the party and the country. As a leading MSP in Holyrood, and more recently with his pioneering work for Devo Plus, Jeremy has shown he is bursting with ideas and has persuasive skills to match the best.

“As one of the youngest people ever appointed to the House of Lords he will also add a new dimension to our team for Scotland. I am also particularly pleased Jeremy has agreed to act as my policy and strategy adviser. He will very much strengthen our offering to the people of Scotland through the referendum and into the next Scottish Parliament.

Alison Suttie

Our second Scottish (and Borders, come to that) is Alison Suttie. She famously staffed the Coalition negotiations in 2010, taking notes in Russian as she told Helen Duffett in AD LIB earlier this year. She worked at the European Parliament, has experience as a campaigner and running a General Election campaign as she did for us in 2010. She then spent time inside the corridors of power as Nick Clegg’s Deputy Chief of Staff when he was first Deputy Prime Minister.

Rumi Verjee

Rumi Verjee, a Ugandan Asian, is a British entrepreneur and philanthropist; businesses he created now employ over 20,000 people in the UK. After bringing Domino’s to the UK, Rumi also oversaw the development of the Brompton Hospital site. Rumi is the owner of the world-renowned china shop, Thomas Goode & Company, in Mayfair.

Rumi established The Rumi Foundation in 2006. The initiatives it supports are diverse, but all share the same goal of humanitarian work through, education, innovation and knowledge building. Amongst other programmes, the Foundation is working with The Clinton Foundation to provide new schools for 3000 children in Uganda. The Foundation recently helped launch the Canadian charity ‘Free the Children’ in the UK which is aimed at helping today’s youth become move active citizens in their local communities and globally.

He has been involved in the party for several years and supports candidates through the leadership programme.

Sir Ian Wrigglesworth

Elected as Labour MP for Stockton South in 1974, Ian was a founder member of the SDP and was the first ever President of the Liberal Democrats in 1988. He is currently party treasurer.

He lost his seat in 1987 and since has been involved in business and is currently Chairman of the Durham Group, an investment company based in Gateshead. Until August 2012 he was chairman of the Port of Tyne, which he had been a director of since 2003. From 1995 to 2008 he was executive chairman of UK Land Estates, which became one of the biggest property development and investment companies in the north-east.

Read more by or more about , , , , , , , , , or .
This entry was posted in News.


  • Lord Oakeshott, a senior Liberal Democrat and former member of the joint committee on lords reform, told the Telegraph that giving peerages to major donors “pollutes parliament and political parties who collude in this”.
    He said: “It’s now more urgent and vital than ever that we elect the lords and get big money out of British politics for good.”

  • In congratulating Jeremy Purvis very warmly on his elevation to the peerage, can I also note that in becoming the youngest Lib Dem peer he takes over that position from Lord Redesdale, who had been our youngest peer ever since 1991 – quite a stretch of time.

  • A seriously mixed bunch.

  • Andrew Martin 1st Aug '13 - 10:13pm

    I’m just wondering what the point of this bit was:
    “She also has personal experience of infertility, having undergone IVF 8 years ago.”

  • Stephen Donnelly 1st Aug '13 - 10:31pm

    The House of Lords is now the largest unelected assembly outside the People’s Republic of China. Liberals in government have behaved like Tories and Labour in Government by appointing their own donors and supporters rather than reforming the system.

    We need not have done this. We could have opened up our seats to a democratic process.

    The people we have appointed are not bad people, but this is no way to run a government.

    I am ashamed to be a Liberal tonight.

  • Grammar Police 2nd Aug '13 - 8:03am

    To those people complaining about the size of the House of Lords – how many of its members are actually working peers? There are also a significant numbers of Peers who pass away each year.

  • “Our former West Midlnds MEP did a great job in Brussels so why not acknowledge that with the peerage we asked for two years ago?”

    Because this isn’t some sort of retirement home or honorific way to reward people. We actually need these people to be turning up on a very regular basis to vote in the HoL. If I was doing it I’d want a commitment to be there on 90%+ of sitting days.

  • “She’s also from Bradford, so can give the north of England an added presence in Parliament.”

    I notice we don’t say of Brian Paddick, “He’s also from London so will give the City and added presence in Parliament” 🙂

  • Ben Jephcott 2nd Aug '13 - 8:35pm

    Hywel, what you specify is exactly what we want and what Liz would be, a working peer attending on a daily basis, not as a some kind of honorific. We need and deserve a working member in the House of Lords in this region (and the East Midlands too deserves one), our votes demand that this area is represented in both houses of Parliament and Liz has a pretty good claim to be the most capable and experienced candidate for the job.

  • Tony Greaves 3rd Aug '13 - 5:01pm

    Zahida Manzoor does live in Yorkshire with her husband and family, but not in Bradford. She appears to be “from Bradford” in the same way that I am “from Bradford”. (To be fair her adult connections are greater than mine).

    There is no simple or single definition of “working peer”. Party nominations (other than those of MPs at the end of a Parliament – the dissolution list) are supposed to be working peers, but not all could be described as such. Also as peers get older, many do less work or no real work at all, whether or not they turn up.

    The remaining hereditary peers contain among their number many people who are, by any functional description, working peers. GOATs are working peers by definition at least during the period they are ministers – some then continue to work hard, others rather less so as they go off to do other things.

    The cross-benchers are largely appointed on the basis of their previous life achievements. Some of them regard their peerages as being an honour and don’t do much in the House (attendance, voting and involvement in debates and the rest of the work of the House). Some are indeed working peers by any definition.

    As for attendance, I certainly do not attend 90%. There is a view that peers should bring experience of the outside world, and the world outside narrow party politics. If you are going to do that seriously it is reasonable to devote a significant chunk of your life to those other experiences. Also if you live more than an hour away from London you can’t just “turn up and get your tick” (and your money) as you can if you live within walking distance of the Palace of Westminster. I can spend a whole day at home working on a Bill,. for instance, and be counted as not there (and get no brass for my pains!)


Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?


Recent Comments

  • Martin Gray
    When the European union drapes it's headquarters in the Israeli Flag & it's President declares that it stands side by side with Israel - what's so objection...
  • Martin Gray
    Ultimately - you cannot sustain the current levels of immigration, & solve the housing crisis simultaneously...Sadly too many progressives are infatuated wi...
  • Nonconformistradical
    "Blaming them for promising amenities (to get planning permission) that they then find endless excuses to delay, however…" A key issue and the one which resu...
  • Joe Bourke
    The Renew Europe demand that the EU Council and Commission take responsibility and finally take further steps to apply Article 7, which could lead to the remova...
  • Cassie
    @Simon R – “I don’t think we can blame developers for building the houses they think they can most easily sell for a profit.” I, for one, wasn't blamin...