Downing Street has been accused of misleading the public about the CV of a major Tory donor who was given a peerage, according to the Independent. Jewellery magnate Ranbir Singh Suri, was elevated to the House of Lords on the personal recommendation of the Prime Minister. At the time he was made out to be a leader of the British Sikh Community, however he appears to have done little to warrant this description.
Mr Singh Suri is one of the richest Asians in Britain and has donated £300,000 to the Conservative Party. When his peerage was announced he was described as the “former General Secretary of the Board of British Sikhs”. To the casual reader this sounds like he is a community leader, which is deemed to be a good reason to ennoble someone.
In reality, the Board of British Sikhs has not existed for 20 years, and even when it did there are only thought to have been a few members. But this did not stop the Conservatives claiming he was a leading figure in the Sihk community. One prominent Sikh organisation said this amounted to a “bare faced lie”.
The Sikh Federation UK said in a statement: “He is no leading figure in Britain’s Sikh community and he is not associated with any of the leading Sikh organisations. Many in the Sikh community simply see Lord Suri as a businessman who has donated large sums of money [to the Tories].”
It added: “The Federation has been campaigning for over a decade to see more visible Sikhs in Parliament. On the one hand this move is welcome, but we would prefer each of the main political parties to have Sikhs in the House of Lords who are younger, there on merit and based on what they have to offer rather than those who are seen as ‘cronies’.”
David Cameron has been accused of cronyism before, the co-chairman of the Conservative Party Lord Feldman is his former house-mate. He was given both a peerage and the key strategic role in the Conservative Party despite having almost no specific qualifications for the job.
News of yet another peerage for a Tory donor will enrage traditionalists who have seen the House of Lords turned into a graveyard for Trade Union bosses and rich donors since most of the hereditary peers were expelled by Labour.
The House now has over 850 members, making it one of the largest upper houses in the world. Many of the members do not even bother turning up and only accept the peerage because of the title it brings.