David Cameron has been reviving political knighthoods for some time as part of Conservative Party management, balancing its Left against its Right: hence those awarded previously to Peter Bottomley and Roger Gale.
This gambit continues in the form of the knighthoods announced today for Bill Cash and Nicholas Soames: many congratulations to both.
Soames is an arch-loyalist today, though he was not an enthusiast for Iain Duncan Smith’s leadership. He is also a former Shadow Defence Secretary, and this old-time Tory traditionalist would have made the Cabinet had Michael Howard won in 2005. It was a pity that he stood down from the 1922 Committee’s executive: he was protesting against what he saw as the increased factionalism present in elections to it.
Cash is usually portrayed as an arch-rebel, though he was briefly a member of Duncan Smith’s front-bench team. None the less, he has been a thorn in the side of successive Conservative leaders over the EU, and is detested by some on the Party’s Left. The advancing of his name for an honour by Cameron is thus the holding-out to the Right of a very large olive branch.
The move is part of his play to keep Tory backbenchers onside over his European policy, which hasn’t gone so well during the past week. (Juncker’s cause has advanced and the AfD has joined the ECR.) It is also a sign of how he will seek to balance out his coming reshuffle, about which Harry Phibbs has written on this site today. I have set out my view of what should rather than will happen recently on this site.