The Guardian view on Johnson's honours list: shameless and far too long

The Guardian view on Johnson's honours list: shameless and far too long

In the years following the first world war, a colourful chancer named Maundy Gregory made a personal fortune selling knighthoods and baronetcies on behalf of David Lloyd George’s Liberal party. Gregory, who operated out of a lavish office in Whitehall, was eventually convicted under the Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act in 1933, and went into exile in France to live on a comfortable pension provided by friends in high places. There was, of course, nothing illegal about the new honours list published discreetly by Boris Johnson last Friday afternoon, as the nation was distracted by the prime minister’s unexpected Covid-19 press conference. But the sheer cronyism at work in some of Mr Johnson’s nominations risks further discrediting a tarnished institution already held in dubious regard by the public. The unelected House of Lords is easily the most bloated second chamber of any democracy in the world. The addition of 36 new peers to its ranks will take the total number of legislators to 830, a number that the Lord Speaker, Norman Fowler, rightly judged at the weekend to be “ridiculous”. In 2019, 120 of those peers attended less than 10% of parliamentary divisions and 130 failed to make a single contribution to any Lords debate. A drastic winnowing process is long overdue, which is why Theresa May’s pledge in 2018 to exercise restraint over new appointments was widely welcomed. Instead, Mr Johnson decided to draw up a bumper list of newbies which has little to do with the promotion of good ...
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