Former Sheffield MP Nick Clegg set to be knighted in New Year’s Honours list

Excuse you, it’s Sir Clegg

It is expected that tonight it will be officially confirmed: Nick Clegg will be knighted, and students are on the offensive.

Clegg will be awarded the prestigious Order of the Bath, or KCB, thus becoming a ‘Sir’, in recognition of his five years in government as Deputy Prime Minister. Sheffield Uni Young Liberals have hailed it as "fantastic", and "in line with every other Deputy PM in history", whilst Sheffield Labour Students say they're "disappointed but not surprised".

University of Sheffield Conservative students also commented on the news by saying, "Whilst we wholeheartedly disagree with Nick Clegg's stance on the EU and current work, between 2010 and 2015 he put his country before his party and provided conclusive proof that's it's ok to be friends with (or at least work with) a Tory".

The list, which has been an annual feature for over 120 years, will be published in full on January 2, but Clegg’s honour has brought accusations of cronyism and corruption.

Not so smooth track record

Clegg represented Sheffield students as MP for Sheffield Hallam for 12 years until he was ousted in the 2017 election by Labour's Jared O'Mara.

Soon after becoming leader of the Liberal Democrat party in 2007, he entered into government as Deputy Prime Minister with David Cameron's Conservatives from 2010 until 2015.

Many students, lecturers and parents are yet to forgive his going back on an election promise to abolish tuition fees for all students. By 2015 not only had tuition fees trebled, but maintenance grants we’re being axed as well.

For some it seemed Labour veteran Dennis Skinner's question in Parliament several years ago, "Why would the Queen confide in Clegg?", was regaining tract.

Sheffield Uni political societies react

Lilian Jones and Katharine Swindells, co-chairs of Sheffield Labour Students, said they were "disappointed but not surprised" at the knighthood, pointing out that Clegg played a key part in "trebling tuition fees, as well as overseeing a record number of people become homeless and a rapid increase in child poverty."

But David Gregg, chair of University of Sheffield Young Liberals, disagreed: "It's fantastic to see Nick get recognised for his work in government – just look at how much worse things are without us there to keep the Tories in line!

"Given plenty of people got honours in the past for just donating cash to political parties, a knighthood for 5 years as Deputy PM seems justified, and in line with every other Deputy PM in history," Gregg added.

The honours list is shortlisted by the Prime Minister based on the advice of several Parliamentary committees, and then awarded by the Queen.

Corruption? Cronyism?

But the process is increasingly being seen as rich in cronyism. Prime Minister Theresa May said she “retched” at David Cameron’s 2016 list, which included knighting his spin doctor Craig Oliver, and pledged to change things.

Even before Clegg’s knighthood, the Lib Dems have over 100 peers in the House of Lords, despite limited electoral success earning them a current total of 12 MP’s. Fellow Lib Dem coalition cabinet members Vince Cable and Ed Davey have already been knighted.

He supports a second referendum on the Brexit deal

It all comes back to Brexit, doesn't it?

Clegg's honour is especially sensitive as he recently published the book ‘How to stop Brexit (and make Britain great again)‘, provoking anger from Brexiteers that this is Remainer-led, establishment corruption.

David Kurten, UKIP's Education Spoksesman, joined many Brexiteers in arguing Nigel Farage should also have been knighted, and that it was "time to drain the swamp" of establishment politicians preventing this.

The Twitter storm is already intense, with some students holding nothing back in either supporting or opposing the award.

Luckily, though, not everyone is as controversial as Clegg. People nationwide will be given awards in categories from entertainment to volunteering locally. Bruce Forsyth and Mo Farah are but two figures to have been knighted in recent years.

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