The Guardian view on crony peerages: a deeply rotten tradition

One day the tie between party donations and seats in the Lords will be broken, but not under this government

The connection between money and political honours can hardly be called a scandal when that word implies secrecy and subterfuge. Something different is needed to describe a process that has been going on, with varying degrees of brazenness, for decades.

Operating via a fixer, David Lloyd George was said to have charged £40,000 – well over a million in today’s money – for a baronetcy. Explicit transactions of that kind were outlawed in 1925. Favours then had to be brokered through nods and winks. In 1976, Harold Wilson’s “lavender list” of resignation honours attracted ridicule for the inclusion of maverick businessmen and at least one fraudster, but there was no proof that the outgoing prime minister gained any material benefit.

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