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01 February 2012

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Patrick Lyster-Todd

I think that Terry Smith makes some good points but that the real issue has been somewhat overlooked - namely the mechanism and criteria required for both nomination and subsequent decision making on senior national awards.

Put simply, I rather despise the thought of people 'who aspire to receive' honours (which would, I'd have thought, have disqualified them in the first instance) and in particular have a deep disquiet for 'captains of industry' (in the broadest sense - you can include senior civil servants, Service chiefs and MP's too) who receive these honours for little more than doing what they're paid to do (often extremely generously), albeit at a level somewhat above the average.

I'd far sooner that our honours system was fundamentally and openly reformed (there have been half-hearted attempts made during the last decade or so by the relevant Select Committee) so that it was stream-lined, focused on citizens who perform great deeds (whether locally or nationally) in their own time and largely at their expense or who give something really special in their workplace through extraordinary dedication and toil. We could also get rid of a whole load of parallel Orders, remove the imperialism and snobbery - and perhaps rename (and focus upon) the Order of the 'British Empire' as the Order of 'Britain' with 4 classes only: Knight or Dame, Commander, Officer and Member.

If either the current or past Government had had the tenancity to do something positive (if controversial) in undertaking this much needed reform then perhaps the likes of 'Fred the Shred' would never have recived the wretched thing in the first place. Did he ever, really, earn it (on top of his remuneration)?

Terry Smith

Patrick,

I agree with you. It’s just that you can’t cover every point in a radio or TV interview, or in a letter to a newspaper, as they won’t let you. I despise people who aspire to honours as well-their desire for it should disqualify them. Giving honours to people mid career is also open to obvious problems of the sort which have now surfaced with Fred Goodwin and many of his peers (literally and metaphorically speaking). I would suggest that the honours system should move closer to the process of canonisation-you can only become a saint after you are dead.

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