Before I wade into Shami Chakrabarti I think it is necessary to explain exactly what a peerage is.
The Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1876 and the Life Peerages Act 1958 authorise the regular creation of life peerages, with the right to sit in the House of Lords. Life peers created under both acts are of baronial rank and are always created under letters patent. So, if Shami Chakrabarti CBE were to accept a life peerage she would become Baroness Chakrabarti CBE as opposed to just Ms Chakrabarti CBE, isn’t that interesting?
There is no limit on the number of peerages the Sovereign may create under the Life Peerages Act. Normally life peerages are granted to individuals nominated by political parties or by the House of Lords Appointments Commission, and to honour important public figures such as the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Prime Minister on their retirement.
Although Shami Chakrabarti C.B.E was head of the UK Civil Liberties Organisation ‘Liberty’ for thirteen years, and although she has campaigned tirelessly against excessive terrorism measures, and also paneled the Leveson Inquiry she hardly counts as an important person. Which is why news of the granting of a life peerage to somebody as unimportant as the former head of ‘Liberty’ should have been greeted with cries of elation.
Tom Watson however, pointed out that Shami Chakrabarti C.B.E, Chancellor of the University of Essex, Honorary Fellow of Mansfield College, Oxford, and Master of the Bench of the Middle Temple, had placed herself in an awkward position by accepting a Life Peerage from Jeremy Corbyn.
Accepting a Life Peerage after having completed a report on Anti-Semitism for the Labour Party was tantamount to receiving a bribe, his disapproval insinuated, perhaps she was softer in her criticisms than she should have been because Corbyn offered her a peerage. The timing is not great for the Labour Party he avowed, forgetting to mention that on most issues from Brexit to the Leadership Challenge Labour’s timing has become decidedly off-piste.
Perhaps Mr Watson forgot the fact that a Labour PM awarded her a CBE inspite of her harsh criticisms of him and his government, and that the Sunday Times has previously listed her as one of the ‘100 Makers of the 21st Century’. The lady is weighted beneath so many honours that one more is hardly likely to corrupt her previous good character. Perhaps Mr Watson would be better occupied ferociously petitioning the Honours Forfeiture Committee with regards to Sir Phillip Green & the removal of his Knighthood. Now there’s a cause worthy of aggressive pursuit on behalf of BHS Pensioners who have been robbed of their full pension, and those remaining employees of BHS who are on the brink of being made redundant.