Oona King, Michael Grade, Stanley Fink to go to House of Lords

By Marcus Dysch an..., November 19, 2010
Monroe Palmer

Monroe Palmer

The chair of Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel (LDFI) and the former chief executive of the Chief Rabbi’s Office are among the more than 50 new members of the House of Lords.

Monroe Palmer, a Liberal Democrat councillor, will be joined as a peer by two Jewish former MPs, Susan Kramer and Oona King.

As expected, Stanley Fink, Conservative party treasurer, and the party’s chairman Andrew Feldman have also been given peerages.

Jonathan Kestenbaum, previously the chief executive of the UJIA and the manager of the Maccabi GB football team last summer, will become a Labour peer.

Mr Palmer has been a Lib Dem councillor in the London borough of Barnet for more than 25 years.

His appointment will be seen as an effort by Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg to placate those who have criticised anti-Israel comments made by other party peers – such as Baroness Tonge – in recent years.

Mr Palmer twice stood for election to the Commons, failing to win the Hastings and Rye constituency in both general elections in the 1990s.

He is a former party treasurer and also serves as an advisor to Mr Clegg on Middle East Affairs.

Susan Kramer is standing to be Lib Dem president. She lost her Richmond Park seat in the Commons in May’s general election. The daughter of a Hungarian Holocaust survivor, she also unsuccessfully stood for the party in the London mayoral election in 2000.

Mr Feldman is Prime Minister David Cameron’s chief fund raiser and joint chairman of the Tory Party.

The pair have been close friends since their days at Oxford University. Mr Feldman raised the money for Mr Cameron’s party leadership campaign five years ago. His company Jayroma has donated £55,000 to the party since 2006.

Mr Fink, a joint party treasurer, is a hedge fund manager who was formerly chief executive of the MAN Group but now works alongside Lord Levy at International Standard Asset management. He has donated £1.9 million to the Tories since 2003.

Another new Conseravtive peer will be David Gold. The Herbert Smith lawyer represented the Israeli organisation Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael in their dispute with Britain’s Jewish National Fund.

He is a member of Southend and Westcliff Hebrew Congregation and was president for nine years, finishing five years ago. He is a governor at the London School of Economics.

He said: "I'm very honoured and excited at being made a peer and hope to make a full contribution.

"Whilst the prospect of addressing the House of Lords is daunting, I feel that chairing a synagogue AGM has put me in very good stead."

Gordon Wasserman, an expert on police force management, will also become a Conservative peer.

Ms King’s peerage could signal a return to front-line politics for the former Bethnal and Bow Green MP.

Ms King lost her Commons seat to George Galloway following an acrimonious campaign in 2005. She has since worked as an advisor to Gordon Brown during his time as Prime Minister and is head of diversity at Channel Four.

She is a close friend of new Labour leader Ed Miliband. In September she lost out to Ken Livingstone in the race to be the party’s London mayoral candidate.

Mr Kestenbaum is the former chief executive of the office of Lord Sacks.

He is currently chief executive of the endowment fund for science and technology (NESTA), but will step down from the role at the end of the year.

Mr Kestenbaum grew up in Japan and studied at Cambridge and the LSE. He led the Great Britain Maccabiah Team in 2009 as manager, overseeing success on and off the field.

Earlier this year he was a member of the judging panel for the JC’s Dragons Den competition.

Academic Maurice Glasman is a London Citizens activist and director of the faith and citizenship programme at London Metropolitan University.

Also taking a seat on the red benches will be former BBC chairman and ex-ITV executive chairman Michael Grade.

A regular after-dinner speaker at Jewish charity events, he will become a “working peer” in the Lords.

In pictures: The new Jewish peers

Last updated: 3:36pm, November 23 2010