Former Liberal Leader Ashdown Among Politicians Given Top Honours

Luke Macgregor/Reuters

Lord (Paddy) Ashdown former leader of the Liberal Democrats, has been made a Companion of Honour in the New Year’s Honours list. He joins Lord Coe and Dame Maggie Smith in the exclusive order which is limited to 65 members and is headed by HM The Queen.

Ashdown was one of a number of politicians honoured amongst the pages of senior NHS staff who dominated the list. The biggest prize bagged by a Conservative was a Knight Batchelor for veteran Thatcherite MP David Amess. His award does not get him access to an order but it does entitle him to use the title Sir David.

Evan Silk, former Chair Commission on Devolution in Wales was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath. The order was founded by George I in 1725 and is also headed by the Queen.

The government returned to tradition by giving the outgoing Lord Mayor of London a Knighthood, or in this case its female equivalent a Damehood. Alderman Fiona Woolf is only the second woman to be made Lord Mayor. Her year in office was marred by her resignation as head of the investigation into child abuse.

The current and former Lord Mayor of Liverpool were also honoured with a CBE and MBE respectively. This is not a tradition but it is not unusual for Lord Mayors of major cities to be recognised.

Labour MP Anne McGuire, was also made a Dame for parliamentary and political services. She has been MP for Stirling since Tony Blair’s landslide in 1997. Charles Walker, Conservative MP for Broxbourne was given an OBE.

Outside elected office a number of senior officers in think tanks and voluntary politics were recognised. The economist Dr Ruth Lea was given a CBE as was Stuart Polak, director of Conservative Friends of Israel.

MBE’s went to David Jones and Sally Smith. Jones is widely credited with removing the favouritism and cronyism that had been endemic in the selection process for Parliamentary candidates. Whereas Smith works for the fund that pays Conservative staff pensions.

Outside politics John Hurt was given a knighthood. Controversial police boss Cressida Dick was honoured yet again, this time with a CBE. The former runner Steve Cram also got a CBE as did Dragon’s Den star James Caan.

Although political honours make up a tiny percentage of the awards they were abolished altogether by Tony Blair. It was David Cameron that brought them back, and since then has embarked on a process of rewarding longstanding politicos from all parties.


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