Evgeny Lebedev, his peerage (along with a few British newspapers) bought with his father’s KGB cash, hasn’t donned the ermine robes yet.
The delay is caused by the requirement that all members of the Lords have a territorial designation, and Lebedev has caused some consternation by choosing ‘Moscow’ as his. However, when a new peer chooses a place in a foreign country, the foreign country must endorse it, and Putin is taking his time.
Admittedly, Lord Lebedev of Moscow has a certain ring to it, but does he have to rub it in? After all, Johnson and other HMG spivs have been bending over backwards claiming that Lebedev is as thoroughly British as warm beer. Hasn’t he been living in Britain since he was eight?
He has – but only because his father was then spying on Britain as a KGB officer working under diplomatic cover at the Soviet Embassy. So, as far as credentials go, this one is pretty thin.
But Lebedev has better ones. He has insinuated himself into our political circles so deeply that his nose can catch every whiff of the Westminster spirit. Thus he senses that our politicians like nothing as much as sponging on celebrities and other nouveaux riches, and never mind the source of the nouveaux riches.
They are the mice begging to be trapped with free cheese, and Lebedev has always been happy to provide it. Acting as the trap is the splendour of his Tuscan villa, the site of many a lavish party frequented by politicians of the right, left and centre.
The queue for invitations grows longer and longer, but these days Johnson is always at its front. The cross-party consensus is that no one throws a shindig like Lebedev, and if that doesn’t merit a seat in the upper chamber of the Mother of All Parliaments, what will?
Who can possibly question his allegiance to Britain, or to her political establishment at any rate? He’s Old Blighty’s favourite son. This is where his loyalties lie.
Or do they? Apparently not. For Lebedev didn’t choose to become the Lord of, say, Hampton (his London house is on the grounds of Hampton Court Palace).
His home is where his heart is, which is in Moscow, and he no longer cares who knows it. Now that he has got his peerage, and it can’t be taken away from him, he doesn’t mind cocking a snook at the very establishment he has been courting so assiduously for years.
But he has missed a trick. Why not cut to the chase and request to be known as Lord Lebedev of Lubianka? Not only would that be even more honest, but I for one would find the alliteration impossible to resist.
The announcement has caused much mirth in Moscow. Journalists are having fun trying to decide who is crazier: Johnson, who elevated Lebedev to the peerage, or he himself for choosing such a revealing title.
In the process, many have pointed out the uncanny facial resemblance between His Lordship and Lenin, in the photo taken during the final stages of his syphilis-induced madness. Such physical similarity, quip the wags, must reflect commonality of character, if not of age and medical condition.
In fact, I don’t think either Lebedev or Johnson is mad. Other adjectives spring to mind, but my wife made me promise not to use swear words in this space.