Editorial: Time to clean up the honours system

 

Share
Related Topics

What is the honours system for? Is it to award consolation prizes? Is it to provide an automatic garnish to certain jobs? Or is it to reward an exceptional contribution to society that would otherwise go unrecognised? With yet another row over nominations brewing, a decision is long overdue.

First, the athletes. This newspaper would be the first to congratulate sporting triumph of all kinds – disabled or able-bodied. Both the Olympics and Paralympics have marked a high water mark for British sport and the achievements of our sportsmen and women merit the highest praise. But a winning performance, an Olympic medal, or a world record, are, surely, achievement enough.

The assumption that a gong must follow is simply demeaning, and the decision from No 10 to create a whole new list – to ensure that the number of Olympians to receive honours is not limited by normal rules – adds to the already rampant (and devaluing) inflation. It can only be hoped that all those who laboured so tirelessly behind the scenes to make the Games such a success will receive equal attention.

And then there is the matter of the sacked cabinet ministers. Leaving aside the gaucheness of letting it be known that the five men would receive gongs, and only subsequently hurrying out the hint that the two women can expect peerages, the shenanigans over honours that followed this week’s reshuffle reduces them to little more than a reward for failure.

Quite rightly, accusations of abuse swiftly followed. But Mr Cameron’s plan, while ill judged, is hardly unprecedented. Indeed, the whole system is already largely discredited. As MPs noted only last week, too often honours are awarded for nothing more than “doing the day job”, with civil servants and celebrities still often outnumbering ordinary people and the taint of political patronage yet to be wholly dispelled.

It is time to call a halt. The system needs radical reform, removing the politics, establishing an independent process for considering nominees, and putting an end to the inclusion of swathes of civil servants, politicians, celebrities and sports stars. Honours should be reserved for those who go beyond the call of duty but are neither recognised nor duly remunerated. Anything else, and Britain’s gongs will lose all value.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ampersand Consulting LLP: Virtualisation / Cloud Infrastructure Engineer (VMware, Cloud)

£38000 - £44000 per annum + Bonus and Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Virt...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Android App Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises in the...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Day In a Page

Should we leave the honours system the way it is?

Read Next
Ice skating in George Square, Glasgow  

How many Christmas cards have you sent this year?

Simon Kelner
 

Al-Sweady Inquiry: An exercise in greed that blights the lives of brave soldiers

Richard Kemp
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum