Cameron Accused of Cronyism Over New Year’s Honours

David CameronDavid Cameron has been accused of using the honours system to reward “Tory cronies and donors” after a string of allies were recognised in the New Year’s list.

The Prime Minister’s controversial general election strategist Lynton Crosby was awarded a knighthood for political service, Tory former Foreign Office minister Henry Bellingham has been given a knighthood for his services to politics and a series of party officials and volunteers also received honours.

Labour MP Graham Jones said: “The honours system is supposed to recognise dedicated public service, not simply be a vehicle to reward Tory cronies and donors. David Cameron should take care not to undermine the integrity of the system.”

Civil servants from HM Revenue & Customs, which has often faced harsh criticism from MPs, are also to be honoured.

Chief executive Lin Homer will be awarded a damehood and Dorothy Brown, director for personal tax operations, is to receive a CBE.

Labour chief whip Rosie Winterton has been awarded a damehood for services to politics and parliament in the New Year’s Honours at a time when her position is the subject of reshuffle speculation.

The party’s enforcer has risen through the ranks after a political career that began 35 years ago when she became an aide to Lord Prescott.

Ms Winterton, MP for Doncaster Central, was appointed Opposition chief whip in September 2010 when Ed Miliband took control of the party and kept the position after Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader.

Retaining the well-respected party disciplinarian in the role was seen as vital in unifying Labour after the leadership contest plunged it into turmoil.

But reports have suggested her role could be under threat following the damaging split over bombing Islamic State (IS) in Syria.

A series of senior Labour MPs showed their support for the chief whip on Twitter, congratulating her on the honour.

Shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn – whose own position is also reported to be under threat following his impassioned speech supporting bombing in Syria – said: “Congratulations to Dame Rosie Winterton. Richly deserved. True Labour through and through.”

Sir Alistair Graham, a former chairman of the committee on standards in public life, also criticised the honours awarded for political services.

He told the Times: “It it just honours for political favours. I don’t think we can blame this Prime Minister … I am totally against using honours for political activity. It just demeans the system.”

Shadow home secretary Andy Burnham labelled Mr Crosby’s knighthood “outrageous”.

“This outrageous award is the clearest evidence yet that 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 said.

Conservative Mark Garnier, a member of the Treasury select committee, said he could “see why people are upset” with the honour for Mr Crosby.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “He did an extraordinarily good job but I can see that some people will be very upset given the fact that these awards are seen to be given for services to the community.”

Mr Garnier has long opposed handing out honours to politicians.

He added: “Is it the right thing to give a knighthood to a political campaigner? I’m probably sympathetic with those people who think it is a bad idea.”

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