Speculation at Westminster about creation of new peers
There's much speculation at Westminster about the dozens of new lords that are about to be created. Whilst the Coalition is busily cutting the number of MPs from 650 down to 600, we are about to get another batch of about 55 new peers.
A normally astute and well-informed Lib Dem observer reckons the following people are in line to be among the expected 15 new Liberal Democrat peers:
* Brian Paddick (2008 London Mayoral candidate and former senior Metropolitan Police officer)
* Sal Brinton (Parliamentary candidate in Watford in 2005 and 2010)
* Dee Doocey (member of the London Assembly since 2004 but standing down in 2012)
* Judith Jolly (West Country party stalwart)
* Susan Kramer (ex-MP for Richmond Park)
* Jonathan Marks (legal expert)
* Monroe Palmer (chair of Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel)
* Julie Smith (Cambridge academic and chair of Liberal International British Group)
* Ben Stoneham (No.2 at Cowley Street, Clegg's operations director before the election)
* Neil Sherlock (speech writer to successive Lib Dem leaders - Kennedy, Campbell and Clegg, also a big donor to Clegg's office, and husband of recently ennobled Kate Parminter)
* Ian Wright (big donor to Clegg's office).
The latter two - Sherlock and Wright - have been donors to Clegg's office so their inclusion could prove to be controversial.
In the Coalition Agreement it was agreed to adjust representation in the Lords to reflect the distribution of votes at the last election. When I did the sums and observed on Newsnight that this would entail the creation of around 200 new peers, ministers suggested I was talking rubbish.
This coming batch, however, will bring the number of new peers since May to around 120.
So much, some will say, for cutting the cost of democracy. Indeed, so much for democracy, they might well add.
But I am told that these new peers won't last long in the upper house. The Lib Dems need so many new peers, I am assured, to ensure that the Lords doesn't block its own reform.
I am also told that another name on the Liberal Democrat list is Qurban Hussain, who stood for Luton South at the election, a campaign we covered on Newsnight.
My previous list had no black or ethnic minority candidates, and so Hussain's elevation would remedy that.
Hussain was the nearest any Lib Dem ethnic minority candidate came in 2010 to getting elected. But his elevation to the Lords may make it even harder for the Lib Dems to ensure they get any ethnic minority MPs next time round.
As I have often reported here, this remains a big embarrassment for the party.