'Oh, so that's who Richard Morris is..." Lord Hattersley on The Daily Politics

'An influential activist' - The Guardian

'Iain Dale, without the self loathing' - Matthew Fox in The New Statesman

You are a tinker...' - Tim Farron

Saturday, 31 December 2011

Sir Paul Ruddock, Tory donor and newly enobled knight of the realm, has a website. Check it out.

Hmm. So a multi millionnaire Tory donor who made a fortune short selling Northern Rock shares shortly before it crashed, has been given a knighthood for his philanathropic contribution to the arts.

Having read the headlines, I thought it sounded a bit of classic cash-for-honours type scenario. But I thought I'd do the decent thing and find out just what Sir Paul had done.

Helpfully, he has his own website, containing all his contributions in one place. This must have made it much easier for the honours committee to make their judgement. How thoughtful of him to provide it.

Do take a look. You can draw your own conclusions as to whether his work deserves a knighthood. I'd make a few observations mind...

1. He is chair of the V&A and spends (I quote) at least 10 hours a week working for them. This seems a relatively small amount of time in exchange for a knighthood.
2. He is a trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This is in America. Therefore, in my mind, doesn't count, Knighthood wise
3. He donates to the Walters Art Museum. Doesn't say how much. But anyway - this is based in America - doesn't count in my book for a UK honour.
4. He is the major donor to the new performing arts centre at King Edwards School in Birmingham. This is a private school. Worthy - but for a public honour, shouldn't count. If only he'd built the arts centre for his local academy, eh...you know, benefitting the kids on the local estate.
5. He got a First at Mansfield. This is listed on his philanthropy page, but I can't quite see why that's a philanthropic gesture. Certainly in the 'why I deserve a Knighthood' stakes - doesn't count..

Finally, Sir Paul does donate regularly to Afrikids, a charity working for African children. This does seem an entirely worthwhile cause and I take my hat off to him. Unfortunately, the knighthood hadn't been given for charity work - its for philanthropy to the arts. So for the purposes of making a judgement on how worthy Sir Paul is of his new honour - doesn't count.

So basically, I think he's been given a Knighthood for doing 500 hours a year at the V&A

I quite fancy that myself. Where do I apply?

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