Ex-Labour deputy leader Tom Watson rejected for peerage for second time

1985
Tom Watson's peerage rejected
Tom Watson's peerage rejected

He was overlooked by Labour boss Sir Keir Starmer from his latest list of House of Lords appointments.

Tom Watson was first nominated earlier this year by ex-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Mr Watson is believed to have been rejected over his support for allegations of a paedophile ring at Westminster made by the fantasist Carl Beech, who was later jailed. Harvey Proctor, a former Conservative MP smeared by the allegations, has led a campaign to deny Mr Watson a peerage.

The ongoing Parliamentary investigation into Tom Watson’s involvement in the false VIP Westminster paedophile ring is understood to be the reason again behind the snub.

The block by the Lords Appointments Commission over concerns about Mr Watson’s support for VIP paedophile ring fantasist Carl Beech, whose claims wasted more than £ 2.5 million in public money.

Critics accused Mr Watson of encouraging Beech to take his false claims to the police.

But defenders insisted it was unfair to blame him as all he did was highlight the issue.

Len McCluskey once said of Tom Watson:

“There is another world in our movement, alas. A world of skulduggery, smears and secret plots. That is where you will find Tom Watson.

“When Labour has needed loyalty he has been sharpening his knife looking for a back to stab. When unity is required, he manufactures division.”

McCluskey said Watson “has form as long as his arm” when it comes to political plots. “[Watson] is a product of the manipulative and authoritarian culture of the old trade union right wing, for whom power was an end in itself, and all means acceptable to attain it,”

cronyism

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson sparked a fresh cronyism row after overruling the peerage watchdog by handing a Lord’s seat to a Tory donor Peter Cruddas. Johnson overruled the House Of Lords watchdog to hand the peerage to former Tory treasurer Peter Cruddas who gave the Party £3.5m in donations.

The House of Lords Appointment Commission (HOLAC), which vets political nominations, recommended the businessman not be elevated to the upper chamber.

It is understood they cited issues relating back to the so-called “cash for access” scandal in 2012, when he was accused by the Sunday Times of charging people to meet then-Prime Minister David Cameron and his Chancellor George Osborne.

Mr Cruddas, who founded the FTSE-250 financial services company CMC Markets with a £10,000 investment and went on to be named the richest man in the City of London, successfully sued the newspaper for libel over the allegations and won £180,000 in 2013.

But that figure was later significantly reduced after a Court of Appeal judgement in 2015 found the central allegation was borne out by the facts, and aspects of his conduct had been “unacceptable and wrong”.

The commission provides advice but appointments to the Lords are ultimately a decision for the prime minister.

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said: “After months of revelations about the cronyism at the heart of this government, it’s somehow appropriate the prime minister has chosen to end the year with a peerage to Peter Cruddas.”

She added that there was “one rule for the Conservatives and their chums, another for the rest of the country”.

Former environment minister Sir Richard Benyon; former MEPs Dame Jacqueline Foster, Syed Kamall and Daniel Hannan; Cerebral Palsy Scotland chief executive Stephanie Fraser; and Dean Godson, director of the Policy Exchange think tank, have also been nominated for Conservative seats in the Lords.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer chose Leeds City Council leader Judith Blake; former MPs Vernon Coaker and Jennifer Chapman, who chaired his Labour leadership campaign; former MEP Wajid Khan; and Gillian Merron, chief executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and a former Labour MP.

As well as Mr Sentamu and Sir Andrew, the nominations for crossbench – non-party – peerages are former judge Sir Terence Etherton and Sir Simon McDonald, former permanent under-secretary at the Foreign Office.

The Lord Speaker, Lord Fowler, criticised the number of new peers, which will bring the total membership of the House of Lords to more than 830, accusing Mr Johnson of a “massive U-turn” on his predecessor Theresa May’s policy of reducing it in size.

It added “insult to injury” that the appointments had been announced while Parliament was in recess, he said.

“It may also now be the time to review the role and the powers of the House of Lords Appointments Commission,” Lord Fowler added.

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