On the brink of another New Year, and we are assaulted as per usual by the honours list. What a charade! Why do people, who ought to know better, actually accept these awards?
Their history dates back as far as Anglo Saxon times when the monarch honoured his loyal subjects with rings and other symbols of favour. The Normans introduced knighthoods, and The Order of the Garter was created by Edward 111.
Each year approximately 2,600 people receive awards personally from the Queen. The ceremony for receiving these is at Buckingham Palace and follows a tradition begun in 1876, it's a complicated ritual that involves members of the Yeomen of the Guard who were created in 1485. It is rare that anyone refuses the offer of a reward, though Rabindranath Tagore renounced his knighthood in 1919.
In 1925 when Prime Minister David Lloyd George was found to be selling honours some reform was brought about . In 1976 during Harold Wilson's government there was another scandal named the 'Lavender List', then in 2006-2007 during Tony Blair's premiership the 'Cash for Honours' scandal came to light, this was to do with the connection between political donations and the award of Life Peerages.
Once upon a time Life Peerages were awarded to members of the landowning aristocracy and royal favourites, now a variety of people from all walks of life are given honours including this year a sheep farmer, a circus ringmaster, and a nun.
This year 979 honours have been given , these include 842 received at MBE and OBE level. The 'man in the street' who works for the poor and needy, gives his/her time to charity does it because he wants to, and never for a reward, so why give him one? But these honours to 'ordinary folk' do give a pleasing gloss to honours given to the undeserving at a much higher level.
Patronage is the insidious way the powerful keep their hold over the people. Unworthy names still slip through, - thank yous for favours given to governments, for keeping their mouths shut at the appropriate moment, or for turning a blind eye at the appropriate moment. For example the City veteran Roger Carr is listed this year despite his involvement in the sale of Cadbury, he is also chairman of the energy giant Centrica responsible for large gas price rises! Martin Broughton, despite the problems at British Airways receives a knighthood! The list goes on and on. Isn't it about time we threw off the shackles and stopped grovelling to these ancient patronising rituals?