Leading Article: Irrelevant honours

IT'S THAT time of the year again. Yes, honours are more often than not an award for toadying or a reward for past behaviour. Welcome to the peerage, Lord Marshall. Yes, they are a perk of some jobs. Arise, Sir John Birt. And yes, they can come in very useful as a bargaining tool. Hello, Lord Burns.

But this time round there is at least a welcome lack of political time servers, the Prime Minister having done away with political honours. The absence of some thoroughly objectionable honours, however, is hardly a defence of a system which is utterly irrelevant to the modern world. Apparently, the Prime Minister is considering replacing the various Empire awards (Order, Member and Companion) with Commonwealth titles - hardly the most radical of reforms.

Still, they do no real harm, and they add to the gaiety of the nation. Who, after all, could object to Sir Geoff Hurst? Keep your fingers crossed, Mr Shearer. If things go well, come 12 July, it could be Sir Alan.

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