James Forsyth

What the new peerages tell us about the party leaders

What the new peerages tell us about the party leaders
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Today’s peerage list contains more interesting names than usual. Jullian Fellowes — Downton Abbey, Gosford Park, Snobs — is the one who will get the most attention. It is a sign of how confident David Cameron is feeling that he has risked the reopening of the whole class question. But perhaps, the most intriguing Tory appointment is Patience Wheatcroft. One imagines that she wouldn’t have taken the role unless it was a way to allow her to serve on the political front line.

Howard Flight’s appointment to the Lords rights a wrong: his sacking as a candidate before the 2005 election was as unfair as it was hasty. A few MPs who stood down have received peerages — Sir Patrick Cormack, David Maclean, and Richard Spring — and there are the usual smattering of donors, though Sir Anthony Bamford is conspicuously absent from the list. Alistair Cooke, of the Conservative Research Department, and Michael Dobbs, of House of Cards fame, will both be great additions to the Lords.

The Labour list shows Ed Miliband’s intellectualism: three of his ten peers are academics. Maurice Glassman’s acceptance of a peerage is a coup for Ed Miliband given how hard the Tories have courted London Citizens, the community organising group that Glassman works with. Steward Wood, the man who masterminded Ed Miliband’s leadership victory, will, I hear, shadow Sayeeda Warsi. I also expect that Oona King will be offered some kind of media-facing role.

Nick Clegg’s list is the least interesting. The most noteworthy names on it are Susan Kramer, who lost to Zac Goldsmith, and Nicol Stephen, the former leader of the Scottish Lib Dems.