Yesterday, I and my colleague Lord Parekh were installed as Honorary Freemen of the City of Kingston upon Hull. It was a remarkable honour in its own right, made all the more so by the fact that very few people have been accorded the freedom of the city. Those that have been include Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu and, earlier last century, Thomas Ferens (the subject of my Founder’s Day Lecture last year). The award recognised the link between university and city and the fact that Lord Parekh and I have between us almost eighty years of service to the university.
My appointment was proposed and seconded by former students of mine and the citation was extremely generous, noting that the freedom was conferred ‘in appreciation of the eminent and valuable service rendered by him to the City in the fields of constitutional affairs and the British constitution, and in recognition of the high esteem in which he is held across the political spectrum as one of the United Kingdom’s foremost constitutional experts, enhancing the prestige of our University in Parliament and encouraging generations of his students in a deep appreciation and understanding of the political arts, to the great advantage of Kingston upon Hull.’
The ceremony itself was impressive occasion.
As to the question I have been most asked, no, I have not acquired the right to herd my sheep through the city.