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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

The Tories were meant to reform the honours system – they’ve left it in total disrepute

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David Cameron
David Cameron pledged to make the House of Lords more representative of British politics CREDIT: AFP

There is nothing new in criticism of the honours system. For all the wonderful titles, many resonant of our greatest empire days, the suspicion that cronyism matters more than achievement has been ever-present. 

Within my lifetime, it is a close call whether Harold Wilson’s resignation honours, the so-called Lavender List, looked worse than David Cameron’s last summer. The difference between the two is that a House of Lords stripped of most of its hereditary peers has meant that modern-day Prime Ministers have had even greater powers of patronage.

With so many vacancies created by the culling of those peers, it is perhaps understandable that Tony Blair created 374 new members. What is more astonishing is that David Cameron added 245 to their number, making the House of Lords one of the most unwieldy chambers in the world. 

It was all supposed to be different. In 2010, when Mr Cameron became Prime Minister, he said that he wanted an upper chamber that reflected the way people in this country voted. As Ukip grew into being the third largest party in terms of popular support, we lobbied No 10 for some Ukip representation. 

I still can’t work out why Geoffrey Boycott never gets a mention. I suppose being a Leave supporter cannot have helped his case

At the moment, our three peers (Pearson, Willoughby de Broke, and Stevens) are all former Tories. In 2014, Ukip won the European elections and became the first party since 1906 to win a national election that was not Labour or Conservative. Our case then became overwhelming.

But, ever keen to keep our politics a closed shop, Mr Cameron then changed the story to say the House of Lords should reflect the House of Commons. Given that the Liberal Democrats currently have 104 life peers and that Ukip has not received a single one, this part of the system is in total disrepute. 

Many thought that Theresa May would be different, and that the old boys network would come to an end. Yet in the New Years List we see that at least eight former Home Office officials and colleagues of Mrs May have been rewarded with gongs. It would seem that nothing ever changes. 

I am of course pleased that our wonderful Olympians are being recognised, and that many who do great work in their representative communities have also been acknowledged. Though, I still can’t work out why Geoffrey Boycott never gets a mention. I suppose being a Leave supporter cannot have helped his case. 

My real objection is that Ukip, arguably one of the most effective political party campaigns in history gets no recognition at any level.

But wait a minute, looking down the list I see: Peter David REEVE. Councillor, Huntingdonshire District Council. For services to Local Government and the community. He has been awarded an MBE. Peter is Ukip and this has never happened before. It must be a mistake.

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