Honours cronyism? New peer blasts accusation as "ludicrous"

Conservative MEP for Yorkshire and Humber, Timothy Kirkhope, who will take a seat in the House of Lords after being made a peer in David Cameron's resignation honours.
Conservative MEP for Yorkshire and Humber, Timothy Kirkhope, who will take a seat in the House of Lords after being made a peer in David Cameron's resignation honours.
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CRITICISM that David Cameron’s resignation honours list is an example of cronyism that has rewarded his political allies and donors has been rubbished by MEP Timothy Kirkhope.

The Conservative politician who was given a peerage by Mr Cameron said the former Prime Minister has every right to recognise the work of those who supported him in Government and who worked on behalf of the country.

Tory party donor Andrew Cook, chair of William Cook Holdings, based in Sheffield.

Tory party donor Andrew Cook, chair of William Cook Holdings, based in Sheffield.

Resignation honours are different to the bi-annual honours procedure, which he would argue has been widened extensively by Mr Cameron in recent years by reintroducing the British Empire Medal to give more people a chance at acknowledgment.

He said: “It is a long convention that as a Prime Minister you are entitled to a resignation honours list if you feel you have people who should be recognised for the efforts that they have put in to support you and the country.”

He dismissed criticism that it is blatant cronyism saying there seems to be some basic misunderstandings that the resignation honours list is intended to reward people who have given political or public service.

“Cronyism - I think all this talk is ludicrous quite honestly,” he said.

Donors who have been given honours include Sheffield industrialist Andrew Cook who said he is “proud and pleased” to be recommended for a knighthood.

Mr Cook, aged 66, chairman of William Cook Holdings Ltd, said he had done his best for UK manufacturing and supported Mr Cameron’s Remain campaign believing it was in the best interests of the country.

Mr Cook who is the biggest Tory party donor in Yorkshire has handed the party £1m since 2005. He was also treasurer of the Conservatives’ In campaign ahead of the Referendum donating a further £300,000.

He said: “I have tried to serve my country as best I can and I am proud and pleased the former Prime Minister has acknowledged this by recommending to Her Majesty that I receive a knighthood.”

Mr Kirkhope, who will take up his seat in the House of Lords this Autumn, said many donors have been given honours over the years, and since there is no state funding for political parties, financial backers are playing their part in democracy.

“Donating to the party id onr of the very few ways in which we can keep democracy going,” he said.

Mr Cameron’s 13 new Conservative life peers gives the Tories 207 members in the House of Lords- one more than Labour - which gives them a majority.

Crossbencher Lord Digby Jones, who was given a peerage by Labour, said his reaction to the list had been “they’re taking the mickey” and joked that the Downing Street pet cat would be next.

He told BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme: “They might as well make Larry the cat one - he’s a good mouser.

“At the end of the day you have got to differentiate between reward and contribution and benefit to the nation.”

Lord Jones said it was right to award gongs for political and public service but peerages should be reserved for experts.

Among those controversially honoured are Samantha Cameron’s adviser Isabel Spearman, who received an OBE for political and public service.