A Conservative MP has said that he is “sympathetic” to the people who are criticising the awarding of a knighthood to Lynton Crosby, the Australian election strategist who the Guardian described as “the man who won the election for the Conservatives.”
Speaking to the BBC’s Today Programme on Thursday Morning, Mark Garnier stopped short of criticising the decision, but did appear to question the wisdom of giving honours to political campaigners.
Here is what he said:
Is it … right to give a knighthood to a political campaigner? I’m probably sympathetic with those people who think it’s a bad idea.
The announcement of Crosby’s knighthood in Thursday’s New Years Honours list has been met with lots of criticism because people are supposed to be given honours such as a knighthood in recognition of their public service. Many people believe that winning an election for the Conservatives doesn’t qualify as a public service.
Here is the government’s own guidance for handing out honours.
The honours system recognises people who have made achievements in public life (and) committed themselves to serving and helping Britain … They will usually have made life better for other people or be outstanding at what they do.
This is the official justification given for Crosby’s knighthood.
Crosby still has a lot of influence within the Conservative party so it’s interesting that Garnier felt strongly enough about his knighthood that he was willing to say he might be sympathetic with those people who think it’s a bad idea. We will probably never know how many other Conservative MPs feel the same way.