Two of Britain’s Main Political Parties are Led by Actual Knights, and The Conservatives Aren’t One of Them

Hans Splinter / Flickr / Creative Commons

Sir Ed Davey has won the Liberal Democrat leadership race, meaning for the first time in over a century two of the United Kingdom’s largest political parties are led by knights of the realm.

The victory by Sir Ed over the radical Layla Moran means now Britain’s much diminished and aggressively anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats — who have stumbled from defeat to defeat in recent years — joins the left-wing Labour party in being led by a legitimate knight.

Sir Keir Starmer became the leader of the Labour party earlier this year and is working to present a more mainstream, centre-left face after years of the hard-left Jeremy Corbyn — although Sir Keir has in fact elevated controversial figures such as Naz Shah, who has a history of sharing antisemitic material online and who once caused a furore after ‘liking’ a social media post suggesting grooming gang victims “need to shut their mouths. For the good of diversity” to leadership positions within the party.

Sir Ed was knighted in 2016 after he was a Cabinet minister in the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government under David Cameron. Sir Keir was knighted in 2014 after he stood down as the Director of Public Prosecutions, a senior legal position.

The knighthood ceremony involves being invited to a formal event at a palace, where a senior Royal — typically the Queen herself or one of her heirs — uses a sword tapped on the shoulders to confer the title.

It is unlikely the irony of the situation will be lost on the Conservatives — often derided by the left as being the party of the wealthy and out of touch — who stand alone among the traditional ‘major’ parties in Westminster in having a commoner leader.

The last time two British parties had leaders with titles at the same time may have been as far back as 1896, when the Conservative statesman Lord Salisbury — still today regarded as a giant of conservatism — and the Earl of Rosebery of the Liberals led their respective parties. Several other titled individuals have led political parties since, including former wartime leader Sir Winston Churchill in 1955 and Conservative leader Sir Alec Douglas-Home in 1964.

The globalist-centrist Liberal Democrats have been much keener on titled leaders in recent years, including Sir Menzies Campbell in 2007 and Sir Vince Cable in 2019.

Sir Ed Davey saw off competition from Layla Moran over the course of this year’s Liberal Democrat leadership election after the previous leader Jo Swinson suffered the humiliation of losing her own parliamentary seat in the December 2020 general election. The BBC reports Sir Ed has pledged to make the party “relevant” again after a precipitous decline in recent years.

The party had branded itself the party of Remain, launching several anti-Brexit stunts including its Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) — when Britain was still a full member of the European Union — wearing “Bollocks to Brexit” t-shirts in the debating chamber and inviting top EU figures to Britain to campaign on their behalf.

The party eventually backed down on revoking Brexit after it became clear how unpopular the policy was at the ballot box.

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