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Dishonours System

Comments Off on Dishonours System 17 June 2017

Dishonours System

The last surviving member of the Dambusters, 96 year old George “Johnny” Johnson, has been awarded an MBE in the Birthday honours list. Not before time you might say when you consider the raids took place some 74 years ago but my reaction when I see some of the other names on the list is simple: is that all?

You don’t need me to cut and paste some stuff from Wikipedia to remind you of the Dambusters raids but it is worth pointing out that eight of the 19 planes were lost, 53 men died and three were captured. These men were true British heroes and it takes until now for the nation to acknowledge Mr Johnson’s service with a lowly MBE, the same level of gong as Ed Sheeran has been awarded and a lesser honour than the alleged comedian David Walliams who gets an OBE presumably for being very camp and definitely not funny.

Mr Johnson, who has also spent many years raising thousands of pounds for charities, said if he had been offered a knighthood he wold have “difficulty accepting it”. Well, it didn’t appear to cause Philip Green much difficulty accepting his knighthood, nor did it appear to concern Lynton Crosby who was handed a knighthood by David Cameron for services to spin on behalf of the Conservative Party. And when you add in the hundreds of people who are handed awards for doing their jobs, you do wonder what the point of it is.

We say it all the time, don’t we? The honours system needs to be massively reformed. Does Michael Parkinson deserve a greater honour than a war hero because of his great service to TV chat shows? The very thought of it leaves me cold. And then there’s Steve Lansdown.

Steve Lansdown, owner of Bristol City (1982) Ltd, gets a CBE for “services to business and the community in Bristol”. Are we to believe that Lansdown created that billion pounds plus out of the kindness of his heart in order to benefit the community? Should we doff our caps and get on bended knee and thank him for shifting all his money to Guernsey to avoid paying his fair share of tax, whilst Britain suffers as health services and school funding are slashed, social care is near collapse and big questions are being asked about the effects of severe public spending cuts throughout the last seven years? I cannot argue with Lansdown’s success in business, or that in building his fortune he has created a lot of jobs, but is that really the measure of whether someone should be handed a major honour?

Perhaps I am out of step with the public mood. It seems I have a very different view of what honours are for and to whom they should be given. I can give you numerous examples of people who have given much of their lives to helping others, often for no financial return at all. They don’t get, nor even ask for, honours in return but in each and every case they make our country better.

It is right that the nation finally gives Mr Johnson the recognition he so richly deserves but I can’t help thinking that the current system is farcical when a real life war hero is considered worthy of a lesser award than a television comedian and a billionaire. What does that say about our values?

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