The whoo-har over the peerage awarded to the Liberal Democrat supporter Khalid Hameed (now Lord Hameed) has been simmering for a few days now. In a nut shell Hameed’s companies have been donating to the Liberal’s for some time, and it was leading Liberal Democrats who helped him along to his independent peerage.
When this story first broke the reaction was “so what”: Conservatives in power, Labour complain about peerage awards, Labour in power, Conservatives complain about peerage awards, Liberals in power (now don’t be silly).
So what has changed to make the story newsworthy?
Today’s Times highlights the comments of former standards chief Sir Alistair Graham, a man totally ignored by Tony Blair when his was PM because he was to honest, and because he was the man who wanted to through the book at John Prescott but was not allowed to.
Sir Alistair has called in to question how the Lords Appointments Commission was unaware that Lord Hameed had donated £395,000 to Liberal funds. On such funding issues his views are clear;
“They give the impression, even if it is not the actual reality, that substantial donations may well lead to membership of the House of Lords”.
He then calls on the Commission to review how it gives out its peerages, and how it was unaware about Hameed’s donation.
Graham’s comment carry great significance in that he was an honest man trying to do an honest job. Blair did not renew his tenure in charge of parliamentary standards for that very reason.
If Sir Alistair smells a rat, it probably is a rat.