By Patrick Wintour, The Guardian
Labour claims 13 peers created by the prime minister during term of office have donated more than £22m to party coffers.
David Cameron was embroiled in another cash for peerages row after he ennobled two big donors in a 22-strong list of new political peers.
The pair were the Conservative party treasurer Michael Farmer, who has given £5.9m to the party, and an Asian businessman, Ranbir Singh Suri, chairman of Oceanic Jewellers. Labour said that 13 peers created by Cameron since becoming prime minister were Tory donors, including Farmer and Suri. The 13 have collectively given the Tories more than £22m, Labour claimed.
Of the 22, there are 12 Conservative peers, six Liberal Democrats, three Labour and one Democratic Unionist. Half are women.
The Liberal Democrats now have over 100 peers for the first time since the late 1920s and face the prospect of boasting three times more seats in the Lords than MPs after the 2015 election. The political bloc has the ability to be a significant force in British politics after the election and it is likely to be supplemented by a further tranche of MPs in any dissolution honours list.
The most famous Conservative peers are Sir Stuart Rose, the former chief executive of Marks and Spencer, and Karren Brady, the vice-chairman of West Ham United, who is also small business ambassador for the Tories.
Other Tories granted peerages include Dido Harding, the chief executive of the broadband provider TalkTalk; Andrew Cooper, the Tory pollster, and Martin Callanan, former leader of the Tory MEPs and the European Conservatives and Reformists group.
A peerage has also been given to Carlyn Chisholm, the co-chairman of the Conservative candidates’ committee; Natalie Evans, director of the New Schools Network, the charity supporting groups wanting to set up free schools; and Arminka Helic, the special adviser to the ex-foreign secretary, William Hague. Nosheena Mobarik, chairwoman of the Pakistan Britain Trade and Investment Forum, has been rewarded for her work as advocate of ethic minorities in business. Another prominent Tory-supporting businesswoman, Joanna Shields, the prime minister’s digital adviser and chair of Tech City UK, is also elevated.
Labour has been given three peerages, including for the former actor Michael Cashman, now an MEP and gay rights campaigner.
Ed Miliband has continued the long tradition of giving peerages to former party officials by awarding one to Chris Lennie, a former Labour deputy general secretary.
Dame Gail Rebuck, the publisher and chairman of Penguin Random House, has also been chosen by Miliband to be a peer. She was married to Philip Gould, the Labour pollster who died of cancer in 2011.
The Lib Dems have given peerages mainly to figures in its now decimated local government base. As well as a peerage for Chris Fox, the party’s former chief executive, “ermine consolation prizes” have gone to David Goddard, the former leader of Stockport council; Barbara Janke, the former leader of Bristol council; Kath Pinnock, the former leader of Kirklees council; and Paul Scriven, the former leader of Sheffield council.
Dr Julie Smith, a senior lecturer in international relations at Cambridge University, has also been made a peer and will lend foreign policy expertise to the party.
Nick Clegg said: “Our new peers highlight the campaigning heartbeat of our party, standing up for their local areas and championing the Lib Dem cause to deliver a stronger economy and a fairer society.”
The Tories pointed out that Miliband had given a peerage last year to one of the people responsible for raising donations for Labour, Jonathan Mendelsohn, and insisted the cost of running the House of Lords had fallen. Ukip complained that Cameron had denied it any peerages, despite its strong showing in the European and local elections.
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