“Theresa May ‘won’t intervene’ in David Cameron’s honours list,” announces the BBC website, following the non-revelation that the former PM is to reward his cronies with gongs. So much for the new era in politics.

We learn that many of Cameron’s allies who campaigned to remain in the EU – and that worked out well, didn’t it? – will become knights of the realm and better. His old pal George Osborne is set to become a Companion of Honour, not a knight, for being a crap chancellor and because he will one day inherit a knighthood from his father for being his father’s son, so you can’t give him two. See how it works? One rule for one, different rules for anyone else.

On a daily basis, I come across people who provide valuable services to the disadvantaged, not for a material reward like an honour, or even a salary, but because they want to make things better. Organising events and get togethers for the sick and disabled, taking people to hospital and collecting them again, caring for people. These, to my mind, are the real heroes.

I know people, too, who have devoted a lifetime to charities like the Royal British Legion because they believe in caring for those who protected us and because if they didn’t then no one would. And others who provide friendship and companionship to the lonely and isolated – and believe me there are an awful lot of people like that. They go above and beyond in their lives. If you are handing out gongs, who do you think should get one?

Should a multimillionaire politician get an award for doing her or his job? Well, maybe, in certain circumstances, although I am struggling to think of any. That is not to say politicians are all the same and in it for themselves. I have come across many who are in it for the right reasons. But what are honours for? The gist of Cameron’s proposed honours list is that his cronies will be rewarded for being cronies. And his wife Samantha’s special advisor, effectively her fashion advisor, is going to be rewarded on top of the £53k we taxpayers are already forking out for her salary.

I have mixed feelings about the honours list. I like the idea of people being rewarded for public service. I like the idea of high achievers like our top sportsmen and women being recognised. That can logically follow into other areas. Another problem with the honours system is that, I suggest, we merely scratch the surface of the deserving. For every great person who gets a gong, there will be hundreds, maybe thousands, maybe millions of people who miss out. I don’t know how you can make it totally fair – maybe you can’t – but there has to be a better way.

Arise Sir Andrew Cook for services to lending Cameron a helicopter in the 2010 election campaign and handing the Tories a big wedge to the Remain campaign. What? That’s not public service, it’s certainly not above and beyond. It’s more like you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.

Welcome to the something for nothing society, though not in the way the Tories would themselves present it.