Readers' letters: Modern peerages are good value for money

It was striking to note that a life peerage and ministerial position costs just under £150,000. I of course refer to the “donation” made by Malcolm Offord, who has been appointed a life peer and Scotland Office Minister.

Tuesday, 5th October 2021, 7:00 am
Malcolm Offord

Putting aside the fact that Prime Minister Johnson did not find any suitable candidates in the ranks of Scottish Tory MPs to appoint, it should be noted that Mr Offord was rejected at the ballot box in this year’s Scottish Parliamentary elections. This is yet a further example, if any were needed, of cronyism and a continued contempt for democracy.

Westminster is, however, no stranger to such “cash for honours” scandals in the 20th century, rewarding those with deep pockets. They dogged the premierships of David Cameron and Tony Blair.

Even before this there was Harold Wilson’s infamous “Lavender List”, which listed businessmen Mr Wilson had chosen to honour his 1976 resignation.

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David Lloyd George, the Liberal PM, found himself embroiled in a major “cash for patronage” scandal over his resignation honours list in 1922. He was accused of raising funds for his party through the sale of peerages. These were arranged through political fixer Maundy Gregory, who sold peerages “ranging from £10,000 (more than £400,000 today) for a knighthood up to £40,000 for a baronetcy.

The scandal led to the passing of the Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act in 1925, and Gregory would eventually become the only person to be convicted under the Act, continuing to falsely offer honours to the wealthy and connected into the 1930s.

Given the cost of a peerage under Lloyd George, Mr Offord’s £150,000 “donation” seems a rather paltry sum.

Alex Orr, Edinburgh.

Newspeak is now university language

The University of St Andrews now insists that students take and pass a course before they can matriculate that requires them to ‘acknowledge your personal guilt’ to ‘overcome unconscious bias’.

Students have to agree or disagree with a variety of statements, including ‘It is important to think about and understand our own prejudices and stereotypes so we don’t treat someone else unfairly or inappropriately’. If you tick ‘disagree’ too often, you have to retake the course.

Of course we should treat people fairly, but imposing a template that mandates self-flagellation for imagined guilt is no way to operate in a university.

There are laws preventing discrimination, and in Scotland we now have a law criminalising ‘hate speech’, including in the home. Why are these laws not sufficient? This is a sinister development

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh.

Vaccine travel

Last autumn I was given the flu jab at the Currie Community Centre. Later the two Covid vaccines were administered at Pentlands Medical Practice in Currie. Both these schemes worked perfectly well with no-one having to travel a great distance.Why, then, this year are we being asked to go to Ingliston or Musselburgh? Do the people who organise these things ever consult a map of Edinburgh?If local pharmacists are able to offer this service why can’t the surgeries or use the community centre or other venues like last year?

Scant consideration is given to the hundreds of elderly people who don’t drive or are not able or willing to journey to Ingliston.I have cancelled the appointment at Ingliston for the flu jab. Not sure what will happen so far as the Covid booster is concerned.

Rosemary McMurtrie, Currie.