UK Politics

New Year Honours 2016: Lynton Crosby knighthood criticised by Labour

Lynton Crosby Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption Sir Lynton Crosby was campaign director for the Conservatives at May's election

The knighthood awarded to Conservative general election strategist Lynton Crosby is "outrageous", shadow home secretary Andy Burnham has said.

Sir Lynton joins a number of politicians, party workers and civil servants in the New Year Honours list.

Minister Greg Hands said his award was "fully deserved" as he was "a world leader in his profession".

Ex-Lib Dem Energy Secretary Ed Davey was also knighted. Labour chief whip Rosie Winterton received a damehood.

Among the civil servants to be honoured is Lin Homer, HMRC and former UK Border Agency chief executive, who has been made a dame.


BBC political correspondent Chris Mason said it was "not exactly unknown" for those involved in politics to be given awards, with Labour's election strategist, Spencer Livermore, now in the House of Lords.

He described Sir Lynton as "one of the most powerful people in British politics who you may not have heard of".

But Mr Burnham said the strategist's knighthood suggested "the Tories think they can get away with whatever they like".

"It is a timely reminder that Labour must make it a new year's resolution to stop facing inwards and expose them for what they are," he added.

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Fellow Labour MP Graham Jones added: "The honours system is supposed to recognise dedicated public service, not simply be a vehicle to reward Tory cronies and donors."

Conservative MP Mark Garnier told BBC Radio 5 live the award could be seen as "insensitive", saying he felt "uncomfortable" about politicians being honoured in general.

Mr Garnier said Sir Lynton was an "outstanding individual", adding: "Were he in another area, I would say this is fine, it is a good thing, it's just that I do recognise the fact that people find it insensitive and are a bit uncomfortable about it and I do, to a certain extent, agree with that."

But Mr Hands, the chief secretary to the Treasury, told BBC News: Sir Lynton had been a "key election strategist in this country for the last 10 years" and was a "very deserving case".

Lynton Crosby profile

  • Born in 1956 in Kadina, South Australia
  • Credited with masterminding the Conservatives' 2015 general election victory
  • Previously worked as campaign director for Australia's Liberal Prime Minister John Howard
  • Worked on the Conservatives' unsuccessful 2005 election campaign, which was blamed by some for giving the Tories a "nasty party" reputation
  • Helped Boris Johnson win successive mayoral elections in London
  • Managing director and founder of lobbying and research firm Crosby Textor

Mr Davey follows fellow former Lib Dem coalition ministers Vince Cable and Danny Alexander in being knighted.

He was appointed energy secretary in 2012 following the resignation of Chris Huhne, and lost the seat of Kingston and Surbiton, which he had held since 1997, at the general election.

Image caption Ed Davey was energy and climate change minister secretary in the coalition government

Dame Rosie has been the MP for Doncaster Central since 1997, and served as a minister in the Labour government in departments including transport and health. She has been opposition chief whip since 2010, retaining the role under new Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Shadow defence minister Toby Perkins said her "loyalty and commitment to the Labour Party" were "hard to match".

Henry Bellingham, the Conservative MP for North West Norfolk and a former foreign office minister, has also been knighted, as have clerk and chief executive of the Scottish Parliament Paul Grice, Robert Devereux, permanent secretary at the Department for Work and Pensions, and Jon Day, former chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee.

According to the government, the honours system recognises people who have made achievements in public life and committed themselves to serving and helping Britain.

Image copyright Labour Party
Image caption Rosie Winterton's damehood was revealed on Twitter by Labour MPs
Image copyright PA
Image caption Conservative MP Henry Bellingham has been knighted

Anyone can nominate somebody for an honour, with nominations considered by the Honours Committee. The committee's decisions go to the prime minister and then the Queen, who awards the honours.

SNP MP Stewart Hosie criticised what he called "the Whitehall farce of honours, knighthoods and peerages".

"They devalue the real reason for these honours - to recognise public service and achievement," he added.

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