AS the Mirror succinctly put it: “Banker Malcolm Offord will be entitled to sit in the House of Lords and make laws for the rest of his life, despite never having been elected.”

This isn’t new. In ­December Boris Johnson “ennobled” 54 ­people, 13 of which had either funded the Tories or had an employment or personal connection to himself. The Lords is groaning at the seams with pals and cronies, including his brother, the Tory donor Peter Cruddas, plus four people who worked at the Telegraph with Johnson and four who worked with him at City Hall when he was Mayor of London. The latest crop of peerages have taken the House of Lords to more than 830, despite a cross-party agreement three years ago that numbers should over time be reduced to 600.

It’s all completely shameless.

But readers with long memories will remember Offord’s astroturf “No Borders” campaign from 2014 which posed as a grassroots group but had loads of money. As National Collective pointed out at the time No Borders begin life with a warchest of £140,000 – despite the group having absolutely no profile prior to their launch (the group had only 457 Facebook ‘likes’ and 121 Twitter followers at the time of its launch).

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No Borders, and Offord, portrayed ­themselves as the real deal – just spontaneous interested non political actors. Their site said at the time: “It’s a people’s campaign voiced by ordinary Scots. They are people who see a bright future in an evolving UK. And they reject the ­physical and psychological borders that Separation would create. They’re proud to be Scottish. And they’re also proud to be British.”

Offord claimed No Borders was intended to be an open forum for ordinary people: “There’s no politicians; there’s no celebrities. It’s a ­mechanism, on a non-party political basis, to begin to use non-political language, just to voice some of the reasons why we want to keep the union. That doesn’t mean to say that the Union is perfect in any way: it has to evolve.”

But No Borders was – like a precursor to the Vote Leave dark money scandal – a well-heeled vehicle that was anything but non-party ­political.

As Fraser Dick wrote at the time: “As well as his donations to the Conservative Party, Offord is an advisory board member to the right-wing think-tank established by work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan-Smith (below), the Centre for Social Justice. The contents of ‘Bankrupt Britain’, a paper written by Offord and published on the ConservativeHome website, suggest ­Offord would back Duncan-Smith’s vindictive and humiliating welfare reforms that have pushed tens of thousands of Scots to beg for handouts at foodbanks. The paper ‘Bankrupt Britain’, written in 2009, lays out a blueprint for austerity – calling on public spending to be reduced by a third, and claims that the entrenchment of poverty in Britain is due to the high amount of unmarried mothers.”

The National: Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith visits Waltham Forest College, to mark the successful progression into employment by students, who have completed the College's 6 week pathway to employment, rail engineering programme for

In it Offord writes: “The proportion of ­families headed by an unmarried mother is among the highest in Europe, and teenage ­pregnancies account for 7.1% of all births in England ­compared to an average of 3% in ­Western Europe. One-in-six of the working-age population lack basic literacy skills and around half lack basic numeracy skills.”

The entire plan of Bankrupt Britain is a sort of hyper-austerity, a suggestion of a programme of cuts the like of which Britain has never seen. He talks of “Reform the bloated benefits ­system of this country to reduce the burden on the state”.

He writes: “The most difficult issue facing any government is, therefore, to re-design the welfare system so that it looks after the weak and vulnerable, whilst getting everyone else back into training and then into work. In other words, let us reform the welfare state into an engine of economic growth.”

So here he is, the candidate defeated in an ­election only a few months ago – parachuted into the Lords and injected into a ­Ministerial position. He has a programme for a far-right ­reform of the welfare state – and arrives ­unelected into permanent power.

THE dark irony of someone who is obsessed by the burden of the lazy and undeserving poor picking up a lucrative seat in the House of Lords will not be lost on many.

But if the Offord Affair shows us anything it is that Britain is truly bankrupt, just not in the way his hysterical paper suggested. The state of sleaze now has an oddly precise figure. Want a seat in government? That will cost you £147,500.

There is a danger to this. As respect drains out of public life and the actual function of ­democracies is corrupted, the Tories are ­building a reputation for contempt.

Offord’s backstory – and his efforts in 2014 – are well remembered. His tactics included ­cinema adverts and ran into trouble when they tried to claim that a Yes vote would result in Scottish people being unable to access medical services in England.

The Vote No Borders advert featured two actors discussing the implications of independence.

One of them claimed Scots would need to join a “long list of foreigners waiting to be seen” at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.

The hospital said it did not endorse the ­message in any way.

The advert was shown in cinemas, and was also posted on Youtube and the Vote No ­Borders website.

A spokesman for the hospital said: “Great ­Ormond Street hospital was not consulted about this advertising, and we in no way ­endorse its messages, or that of any other political ­campaign group.

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“We have contacted the Vote No Borders group to request that the advert is removed from cinemas as soon as possible.

“We would like to reassure Scottish families that we already have reciprocal health care agreements with numerous countries, and we regularly treat patients from across Europe ­because of our very specialist expertise.”

At the time it was just lost in the general ­deluge of disinformation that came out of the No campaign.

Now it can be seen as just part of the ­propaganda of a profoundly anti-democratic movement in support of a profoundly ­anti-democratic state.