>Congratulations to former Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader Nicol Stephen as he prepares to take up his seat in the House of Lords. He has just been announced as one of 15 new Liberal Democrat peers. His experience of being Deputy First Minister in a Coalition Government will be invaluable. He’s also passionate about making sure young people have the best possible opportunities to succeed.
Others I am pleased to see on that list are Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel Chair Monroe Palmer – not just because 17 years ago his kind words of encouragement helped me make my first ever (and I think only, to be honest) speech to a Federal Conference, Sal Brinton, who came so close in Watford at the General Election and Susan Kramer.
All fifteen will be strong additions to the team in the Lords. I am annoyed, though, that when our gender balance is so rubbish at virtually every level of the Parliamentary Party and in Government, that only 6 of the 15 are women. This was an opportunity to try and restore some of that imbalance and it hasn’t been taken up.
As far as the other parties are concerned, interesting names include Dame Joan Bakewell and defeated mayoral candidate Oona King for Labour and Fiona Shackleton, Paul McCartney’s divorce lawyer, famed for her dignified behaviour after having water chucked over her by his ex wife Heather Mills and the man who created the dastardly Francis Urquhart, Michael Dobbs, for the Tories. Anyone in favour of freedom of information should beware though, as the man who tried to stop MPs’ expenses being published, David McLean is also there as a Tory peer. They really haven’t changed, these Tories.