Monday, 1 February 2010


In the 1997 General election seven Tory Cabinet Ministers lost their seats. They were: Malcolm Rifkind (Foreign Secretary); Michael Portillo (Defence Secretary); Ian Lang (Trade & Industry Secretary); Michael Forsyth (Scottish Secretary); Roger Freeman (Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster); William Waldegrave (Chief Secretary to the Treasury) and Tony Newton (Lord President of the Council).

What happened to that august band thereafter?

Malcolm Rifkind got a Knighthood form John Major’s resignation honours list and re-contested his Edinburgh Pentlands seat in 2001. He was again sent packing by the people of Edinburgh. In 2005 he stood and was elected in what must be the safest Tory seat in the land, that of Kensington and Chelsea. Having only been back for 5 minutes he put himself forward to succeed Michael Howard as leader of the Tories and lost. During the controversy over expenses in 2009, Rifkind was reported as having claimed £3,066 in travel reimbursement for flights to his home in Scotland despite representing Kensington and Chelsea in London, Rifkind stated it was a taxable benefit on which he paid full tax.

Michael Portillo was returned to parliament in 1999 in the constituency of Kensington & Chelsea after the death of their sitting MP Alan Clark. He stood down in 2005 making way for Rifkind....see above.

Ian Lang was made a life peer as Baron Lang of Monkton of Merrick and the Rhinns of Kells in Dumfries and Galloway in September 1997 by John Major in his resignation Honours.

Michael Forsyth received a knighthood in 1997from John Major and in 1999 was elevated to the House of Lords given a life peerage as Baron Forsyth of Drumlean, in Stirling, presumably by Tony Blair.

Roger Freeman was made a life peer by John Major and sits as Baron Freeman, of Dingley in the County of Northamptonshire.

William Waldergrave entered the House of Lords as Baron Waldegrave of North Hill, of Chewton Mendip in the County of Somerset, in 1999. Presumably he was given a peerage because he was the second son of the 12th Earl of Waldergrave.

Tony Newton was created a life peer as Baron Newton of Braintree, of Coggeshall in the County of Essex again thanks to John Major, in 1997.

So there we have it each of these seven people were rejected by the people of the UK. Five of them, however, went on to get unelected positions in Parliament as members of the House of Lords. The other two were both elected to one of the safest Tory seats in the land, to such an extent that it is practically a sinecure. Rifkind and Portillo maintained aspirations of leadership. We know that Portillo was tipped as a possible leader of the Tories, had he not lost his seat in Enfield Southgate. That might explain why he was given Ken & Chelsea so soon. But give Portillo his due, he is the only one who did not accept any sort of Gong from the British Empire, although I imagine that one was offered. Rifkind, we know, failed to get the leadership in 2005.

As for the rest, how can it be right that a bunch of absolute no hopers, some of whom only held the most junior positions, and some only for a very short time, to a man ended up in the Lords?


  1. Baubles! all politicians seek them all political parties give them( that includes the snp same as all the rest)

  2. Does it not gladden your heart to see this bunch of incompetents being honoured in this fashion. Poor Portillo fell out of favour with the blue rinse brigade over some small perceived failing. I recall locking horns with Tony Newton in a previous life which was quite difficult as he had the brains of an amoeba - good to see that a lack of intelligence and principles is no bar to the House of Lords bars.

  3. Can you name one SNP person in the House of Lords Niko? No SNP politicans with any of the British Empire baubles either.

    Sean Connery getting his stupid sirhood was nothing to do with his politics. Labour tried to avoid it, of course, but they realised that there were a whole host of old women who rememberd him as James Bond and who fancied the pants off him, and most of all, these old women voted, frequently Labour!!!

    So they gave it to him. To his eternal shame he accepted it.

  4. Brownlie: It's positive plus to be as dim as a broken torch.

    Some of them I'd never heard of to be honest... Newton and Freeman??????????

    I don't approve of the Lords in any way, shape or form, but I accept that it exists. As such I understand that it has always been the habit to ennoble the Prime Minister and the senior people under him. But for heaven's sake, the Lord President of the Council; the chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster??? Oh please! What do these people do?

    The Lords is a laughing stock as it is without adding “no ones” to it.

    Get rid of it. Scotland manages perfectly well without a second house. (That’s not a party political thing; it did so under the last Executive too.) It's an unnecessary extra cost to a broke country. Bin it.

    They won't of course, but it is a huge insult to democracy to put people who have been voted out by the public into the second house. It's like Major was saying...."I don't care what you stupid ungrateful people think; I think they are good fellows and so they WILL remain in parliament, whether you like it or not." Intolerable arrogance.

    Mind you... the present lot are just as bad... Transport Secretary for England is in the Lords, as is the Business Secretary. Don’t they have any talent in the Commons.... Oh, sorry. Silly question.

  5. Tris

    If Forsyth was elevated to the Lords by Blair it was probably for services to Labour in Scotland.

    No other person worked so hard or so diligently to ensure the Torys were totally wiped out than Forsyth.

    We should all remember him fondly for this.

  6. This is certainly true Dubbieside. He managed single handed to wipe Tories from the Scottish political scene. He managed, despite never having held anything other than a very junior post in cabinet, and that for a very short time, to get himself a Knighthood and an Lordhood, or whatever you call them.....

    Rumour has it that Cameron is considering him as a possible Secretary of State when he wills the next election. Clearly Mundell is not Cabinet material and, if they get any more seats, these will be totally untried people. It would be embarrassing to have to appoint someone to a Cabinet post before they had found out where the expenses forms are issued from.

    So we may not have seen the last of Lord Sir Forsyth...

    They like their titles those people, don't they... and all the time there are people in these islands dying of the cold.... tut, bloody tut.

  7. Sorry folks the images are of Rifkind, Forsythe and Waldergrave.

    All these people were rejected by the public but all returned either by being elevated to the Lords to join that gravy train or by being elected to one secure seat for the Tories. That was the old regime the current one stinks and is already elevating its trash to their Lordships house. Whats the new one going to do?

  8. Brownlie

    "good to see that a lack of intelligence and principles is no bar to the House of Lords bars."

    au contraire it is a prerequisite

  9. It's not just the Tories. If the SNP take Scotland to independence the old Labour career route of activist, councillor, MP, Minister and then finally Vermin in Ermine in the House of Lords would be broken. It would also take away the new Labour career route of Oxbridge politics degree, political analyst in a think tank and then MP, Minister and finally Vermin in Ermine in the House of Lords.

    It's understandable why Labour and the Tories in Scotland hate the SNP. If the SNP win they both lose their nice little pension and London retirement club.

  10. Aye Doug. Life would be a real bitch if they couldn't prgress to a happy retirement in sunny London with the House of Lords as a retirement home that pays THEM rather than the other way round.

    I might swallow my principles and accept a seat there. £300 a day for eating lunch in a subsidised canteen and drinking in the subsidised bar.... lovely. Company would be a bit crap though. Still I could take an ipod and a book.

  11. Danny, 1st Earl of the OzarksFebruary 01, 2010 10:21 pm

    Interesting post and comments, especially as regards the opinions about the Lords. I'm always fascinated by a fundamental difference between British and American government....the fact that in Britain a member of the government must be a member of Parliament (sometimes in the Lords I guess), whereas in the US they are constitutionally barred from such membership in the Congress. So, no members of the US administration ever stand for office during their tenure, except the President and VP of course.

    And then failed (or retired) politicians in Britain commonly have an afterlife in the Lords to look forward to. No constitutional honors in the US of course. Just big money jobs in the private sector, often as a Washington lobbyist, or as a member of one of the political think tanks which inhabit Washington.

    Seems that a British politician cannot disgrace himself badly enough to disqualify him from a life peerage. (Same for American politicians and the big money private sector jobs of course.) But perhaps the best solution is that suggested by the American journalist H. L. Mencken. He pointed out that since all ex-presidents go on to become public nuisances, we should have a constitutional amendment to require they be hanged upon leaving office.

    BTW, was the knighthood for Sean Connery controversial? I thought that theater and movie people commonly received knighthoods. Sir Laurence even became Baron Olivier I think.

  12. Your Earlness:

    I think that many of our ex-ministers should go the same way as your ex-presidents.

    I was interested that the Americans go on to high powered jobs... I guess you will know that as well as a seat in the Lords many of ours go on to take seats on boards, not because they have anything material to contribute (most of them are as thick as short planks), but they invariably have a title and “Rt Hon The Lord Useless Twerp” looks good on the heading paper. Even if you wouldn’t trust the prat to empty the trash.

    As for Sir Sean... well, you see, Sir Sean is a huge supporter and a sizeable contributor of funds to the SNP, and of course Labour hates the SNP. So, hugely popular though he is, it presented as a problem for Blair!

    Of course many classical actors used to be given awards, I know not why. I suppose the smart set in London went to see them at “The National” and “The Royal Opera”. I imagine to court popularity Harold Wilson started giving gongs to popular artistes (The Beatles were first I think). Of course they brought in far more money to Britain than the classical singers/actors, so perhaps it was justified for that reason.

    Now just about everyone who has ever had a hit record or made a film has got one. MBEs, OBEs, CBEs, Knighthoods (or Dames for the women) and Peerages. And because the ones at the bottom have got MBEs, the ones who have endured have to get Knighthoods. My own beloved Pétula has a CBE

    Actually as they’re ten a penny. I might get one for singing in the bath!

  13. Danny, 1st Earl of the OzarksFebruary 02, 2010 12:20 am

    Tris....Keep up your vocalizing in the bath. The style "Sir Tris" would have considerable panache.

    As for honours for show business people, I seem to remember reading that the use of the style "Sir" or "Dame" with an actor's name in a professional theatrical context was at first controversial. It seems that May Whitty received a DBE in 1918 in recognition for her charity work during World War I. Then she proceeded to use the style "Dame May Whitty" in her professional billing. The controversy this caused seems ironic in light of all the Sirs and Dames which followed, and for which the title specifically recognizes excellence (or at least popularity) in the arts.

  14. This talk of how honours are handed out reminds me of Sir William Penney who was knighted by Churchill in 1952 for successfully developing and testing the British atomic bomb. It was tested on Monte Bello Island off the coast of Australia (talk about foisting your rubbish off on other people). Apparently awaiting his return from Australia were two envelopes; one read “very sad news Dr Penney” and the other “well done Sir William”. I’m wondering if Dr Penney’s zeal for WMD was in any way enthused by his possible gong. I’m also wondering if there were two envelopes awaiting Andy Murray after he draped himself in the Union Jack? Oh well we know which one Dr Penney got and we also know which one Andy will get too, although doubtless he will have to win Wimbledon to get his knighthood (probably from the Tories so he will have to drape himself in their English oak as well).

  15. As for Sir Sean? Well as a republican (with a small r) I have little respect for anyone who accepts a title, no matter how much it sticks in the givers throat. I don't understand how Sir Sean can be for an independent Scotland and still accept gongs from the British Empire. But then I don't understand how someone who pontificates at length about Scotland and how much he loves it can do so from a tax haven in the Bahamas. My personal opinion is that he is not a good role model for the SNP and if I were in charge I would tell him to piss off!

  16. Good luck Scotland and the SNP in finding a better role model, it seems the allure of the British Empire is just too great to resist. As we saw in Sir Chris Hoy, who dedicated his life to winning an Olympic gold, got three, sold loads of very bad autobiographies got millions in sponsorship fees and a gong from Queen and Empire. The worst part in my opinion is those excruciating adverts for Kellog’s Bran Flakes which make me cringe and shed a tear for Scotland.

    I had hoped Andy Murray would not be seduced but he has recently been disporting himself in a Union Jack, much to my disgust. So I was not that down hearted to see Switzerland win.

  17. Danny, 1st Earl of the OzarksFebruary 02, 2010 9:32 am

    Munguin....I saw Dr. Penney and his work highlighted in the British documentary about the Windscale fire. It surprised me how shy and reserved this brilliant mathematician and physicist seemed to be. Later in life, Sir William became Baron Penney.....making me think that his knighthood might be thought of as a reward for the atomic bomb, and his peerage as a reward for the hydrogen bomb.

    Penney had been a member of the British delegation to Los Alamos in 1944 where he was one of the most important members of Oppenheimer's team which built the first bomb. He was in the New Mexico desert in 1945 where he observed the very first detonation, and he was in a chase plane over Nagasaki where he observed the bombing. All this is ironic now in terms of the curse of nuclear weapons, but he was surely a man in the center of the action.

  18. Danny: yes Sir William was indeed in charge of producing weapons grade fissionable material at Windscale. That is all it did by the way, it did not produce electricity. It was also him that was tasked by Harold Macmillan of apportioning blame for the fire in 1957 which nearly blew a huge hole in the Lake District. Penney apportioned blame mostly to the various governments for pushing the scientists and technicians firstly to produce an A bomb and later an H bomb so that Britain could sit at the top table with the US. Macmillan was not to keen on that so he put his expertise in editing books to editing the report and made it look like the technicians and scientists ware to blame.

    I was forgetting that he ended up in the Lords, he clearly did not take Macmillan to task for effectively changing his conclusions. The allure of the red baize strikes again no doubt.

  19. Danny, 1st Earl of the OzarksFebruary 02, 2010 11:05 am

    PS Munguin.....I'm glad you were so specific. A small "r" republican is the very best kind to be. Not much can be said for that large "R" variety. :-)

  20. Apparently if there are no tory Scottish MPs, or worse- only Mundel then there is a plan to make Forsyth the SoS for Scotland.

    So if you dont vote tory in Scotland, you will be voting for Forsyth to come back!

    ...I'm voting tory...I'm making sure that doesn't happen!


  21. Dean, very curious logic you have there. Vote Tory or you get a Tory??

    Anyway we want the worst possible Tory so Forsyth will be most welcome back. A Lord is even better, just imagine the mileage the SNP will get out of a failed Tory cabinet minister who wasn’t even elected. That really would be adding insult to injury for poor old Scotland. I thought you Tories were supposed to be unionists.

    We will have to content ourselves with voting SNP in the hope that there will be a hung parliament which will give our 15-20 MPs much more sway.

  22. Danny: I would not want anyone to think I was a supporter of George W now would I. Our Republicans with a big R are the Tories and they spoiled the word conservative for everybody just like the Republicans did for that noble word on your side of the pond.

  23. He He....

    Oh Dean... That's a corker of a reason to vote Tory.

    Actually, even if the Tories return 3, 4, 10 MPs, they will still be rookies. Anyone appointed to the post would be a Cabinet Minister before he was sworn in as an MP...

    Now that just can't be a good thing.

    Danny/Munguin: Imagine being given honours for eveloping WMDs. What a weird world!

  24. Munguin, Tris,

    In all seriousness there will probably be a headful of Tories elected in Scotland- for sure.

    Maybe a bit more on a good night, I reckon that on a dream night these seats are plausably ours [on a dream night remember! Not the most likely]

    Dumfries & Galloway,
    Berwick Rox and Selkirk,
    Mundels haunting ground [no, that is not a mistype].

    P & NP,
    Edin South,
    Edin SW,
    East Ren,
    Aberdeen South,
    West Ab and Kincardine,
    Ayr Central,
    Edin North and Leith

    ...but thats a dream night.

  25. But Dean, everyone except Mundell will be totally inexperienced, even if you got 40 seats.... Do you see what I am saying?

  26. Well that is the problem with longterm opposition.

    But you overstate the case, the SNP have done a rather decent all round job generally- and they had never been in 'power' before.

    So it depends on character importantly, and men like Peter Duncan are really solid, and reliable Tory Scots with good I am optimistic that it wont be all that bad.

    And besides, its good to have some mavericks in the backbenches to keep a government in line!

  27. I have to admit that you have hoist me by my own petard there Dean. :-)

    But at least all the memebrs of the Scottish Cabinet had been in parliament before.

    It will be interesting to find out what Mr C will do about the Scottish situation though...

  28. He needs to be bold, that is when Cameron is at his unarguable best.

    But from Calman onwards he has been shockingly...well...cautious.

    He needs to come out and argue for fiscal autonomy for Scotland and England, or even better fiscal federalism for the whole UK.

    I am positive the English Tories would love it, getting rid of barnett and all.

  29. Well Dean, according to the polls he needs to firm up his fiscal plans. He is seen to be weak on whether or not he will tackle the deficit.

    Both main English parties started with a firm statement. Labour would spend their way out of recession, and the Tories would cut fiercely. Now both of them are somewhere around the middle.

    There's not much to pick between them.

  30. True.

    George Osborne had a good and solid conference speech in 2009- and he provided some decent plans for debt reduction.

    The only problems were of course, there was too little 'cuts' to meet the stated preference of my Party [which is to cut spending as opposed to tax raising to beat fiscal bust-up].

    I think that we would all be served better if Ken Clarke and George Osborne swapped portfolios.

    I for one think that the markets and the public would much rather see Clarke, and be comforted by him in a way they simply wont be by boy-George.

  31. Personally I would feel comforted if Ken Clarke was the Chancellor. He got a lot of things right the last time he was, and I imagine he would again. It is a big job for an older man though.

    As for Boy George, I'd prefer to see him with a much less important portfolio. Paymaster General or Lord President of the Council or Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster ...would be more appropriate to any talents I've discerned in him to date