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What can be learned from the new Labour, Lib Dem and Green peerages?

By Mark Wallace
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Earlier this afternoon I wrote about the 14 new Conservative Life Peers who have been appointed to the Lords. In the same announcement, 16 other Peers were created for the Labour Party, the Lib Dems and the Greens (the brief biographies are those from the Downing Street press release):

Green Party

  • Jenny Jones AM – member of the London Assembly; former Chair of the Green Party of England and Wales and former Deputy Mayor of London

Labour Party

  • Sir Charles Allen CBE - Non-Executive Director of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games; Chairman of Global Radio Group
  • Sir William Haughey OBE - prominent Scottish businessman and CEO of City Refrigeration Holdings
  • Alicia Kennedy - former Deputy General Secretary of the Labour Party
  • Doreen Lawrence OBE - campaigner for justice, race equality and better policing
  • Jonathan (Jon) Mendelsohn - business advisor and co-founder of LLM Communications

Liberal Democrat Party

  • Catherine (Cathy) Mary Bakewell MBE - former leader of Somerset County Council
  • Rosalind (Olly) Grender MBE - former Director of Communications for Shelter; former Director of Communications for the Liberal Democrats
  • Christine Mary Humphreys - President of the Welsh Liberal Democrats; former Member of the National Assembly for Wales
  • Zahida Manzoor CBE - former Legal Services Ombudsman; former 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
  • Rumi Verjee CBE - entrepreneur and philanthropist
  • Sir Ian Wrigglesworth - Liberal Democrat Treasurer; former MP for Teeside Thornaby and for Stockton South

There are a few conclusions that can be drawn from this list:

1) The Government still has one eye on the Coalition Agreement - but only to a degree. The elevation of Jenny Jones as the first Green Peer is a nod towards the Coalition's pledge to make the House of Lords more representative of the level of support for smaller parties. Evidently the Greens were felt to be an acceptable route to do so - it's notable that UKIP, who received many more votes than them, did not receive any new Lords or Ladies. 

2) The Lib Dems aren't that bothered about the Rennard affair. As Guido notes, Alison Suttie has been caught up in various allegations about how the Lib Dems handled the scandal - but it hasn't prevented her donning the ermine. Not a great sign that they're ever going to take the issue seriously.

3) Londoners will be spared yet another Brian Paddick candidacy for Mayor. Some have cruelly suggested that the only reason he agreed to stand for the second time was because he would get a peerage for his efforts. It must be slightly awkward that Jenny Jones, who will arrive in the Lords at the same time, beat him into a poor 4th place in 2012.

4) Labour will always say one thing and do another. Reportedly, Labour have attacked today's announcement for "increasing the cost of politics". Will their new Peers therefore refuse to take their seats? Somehow, I doubt it...

5) People forget scandals if you wait long enough. Labour Peer Jon Mendelsohn is most recently recognisable from his work trying to nip the the David Abrahams Labour donor scandal in the bud - but he also hit the headlines early in the Blair years, as a character in the Lobbygate scandal. Time, it seems, heals all wounds.