And with a touch of a sword on their shoulders, John Redwood, Gary Streeter and Alan Campbell joined the ranks of Britain’s knighted politicians.
What towering achievements led to the highest honour being bestowed on these three politicians?
What moments of leadership or specific, defining actions saw them make their mark on public service for the greater good?
All I know about Redwood and his incredibly short-lived, unremarkable ministerial career, is that, as Welsh Secretary, he made an idiot of himself singing the Welsh national anthem when he clearly didn’t know the words.
Streeter and Campbell I’d never heard of.
Google tells me Streeter chairs the All-Party Group of Christians at Westminster, while Campbell is deputy chief whip for Labour, and he reckons he nixed the award because his priority “has always been and still is my constituency” before waffling on about regeneration.
In other words, for doing his job.
If that’s the criteria for bagging an honour, you might as well tip a bunch of gongs and medals on to a table at Westminster, and invite each MP to pick one on their way out the door. You may also have to widen the doors to get some of their heads through.
The time has come to exclude all serving politicians from the honours system – not just because the current lot are the most inspid, least talented bunch we have ever elected, but it would remove the stench of patronage and end the wretched cronyism at the heart of the system.
The honours system needs to focus on people who make a genuine difference. Real people at the heart of our communities, who give time willingly, and are the last to rush into the spotlight.
The great and the good can still be included for their philanthropic work, but let’s celebrate the true unsung heroes. I so want to know more about the folk who were honoured for their dedication to bee-keeping and handbell wringing – presumably not at the same time – and not the chief constables and high heid yins in the civil service whose lives in the corridors of power seem remote and inaccessible.
And did failing to guide England to World Cup glory really merit an OBE for Gareth Southgate?
If failure is the new benchmark then the SFA needs to apply retrospectively on behalf of every Scotland manager of the past 20 years. Arise Sir Craig Levein!
Such nonsense also throws up the laughable anomalies at the heart of the system.
Harry Kane gets an MBE while still in mid career with Tottenham Hotspur, but true club legend Jimmy Greaves has yet to be honoured.
Kane has yet to create a legacy, Greaves’ is writ large in the record books – one of the game’s greatest goalscorers, a man who battled back from alcoholism to become a much loved broadcaster and after dinner speaker.
The flaws in the system allow us all to nitpick over the nominees – the high profile recipients are all subjective – so for 2020, let’s see a rethink and make the gongs matter.