Monday 1 August 2016

It's time to scrap the discredited honours system

The UK honours system is an absolute disgrace. The worst examples are the knighthoods given to the child abusers Jimmy Savile and Cyril Smith, but there are plenty of other examples of the honours system being used to reward disgraced businessmen who went on to destroy their companies through their greed (Fred Goodwin and Philip Green) and a whole host of political cronies.

The whole honours system, including appointments to the bloated unelected House of Lords, is an affront to democracy. In his six years as Prime Minister David Cameron stuffed unelected cronies into the House of Lords at a faster rate than any Prime Minister in history. He stuffed so many establishment insiders into the unelected upper house that the House of Lords is now the second biggest legislative chamber on earth, second only to the Chinese parliament!

The leaked list of people David Cameron intends to reward with establishment honours as one of his last acts as Prime Minister is an absolute disgrace. Not only is the list stuffed full of Tory MPs, special advisers and donors, it also includes one of the leading Labour coup-plotters (Will Straw) and even Samantha Cameron's personal stylist!

Here are some of the most dubious people on David Cameron's resignation honours list:

Isabel Spearman: After drawing scorn and ridicule for handing his barber an MBE in 2014 it appears that Cameron hasn't learned his lesson about excessive cronyism, opting to nominate his wife's personal stylist Isabel Spearman for an OBE!

Ian Taylor: The oil trader and major Tory donor has been waiting for a knighthood from his chum David Cameron for quite some time. Not only is he a major Tory donor having bunged them £1.6 million to the party, he also bankrolled the Tory anti-Independence campaign in Scotland to the tune of half a million quid, and handed £350,000 to the Vote Remain campaign.

Andrew Cook: Another major Tory donor who has given over a million pounds to the Tory party and bankrolled the failed Remain campaign to the tune of £250,000.

George Osborne: The former Chancellor and architect of the ideological austerity con is to become a Companion of Honor which is usually given as a supposed "reward for outstanding achievements in the arts, literature, music, science, politics, industry, and religion". The idea that George Osborne's socially and economically catastrophic austerity agenda constitutes an outstanding achievement in politics (rather than a spectacular example of conning economically uneducated people with ludicrous fairy stories) is beyond a joke.

Thea Rodgers: George Osborne's stylist is also in line for a gong. Cameron is hoping to hand an OBE to the woman who advised George Osborne to change his haircut and lose some weight in order to reverse his unpopularity. Perhaps advising him to abandon his economically illiterate "let's cut our way to growth" agenda would have done more to improve his public image?

Tory remain politicians: Cameron decided to hand out a load of gongs to his political allies. The other Remain supporting Tory MPs in line for anti-democratic handouts includes knighthoods for Philip Hammond, David Lidington, Patrick McLoughlin and Michael Fallon. 

Craig Oliver: Cameron also intends to hand out a knighthood to the guy he brought in to replace the crook Andy Coulson as his Director of Communications at 10 Downing Street.

Will Straw: In order to add a veneer of balance Cameron had to nominate a few people who weren't Tory MPs, donors or advisers. The choice to nominate Will Straw for a CBE is utterly bizarre. Straw has achieved very little of note since founding the Blairite blog Left Foot Forward. He was a failed Labour parliamentary candidate in 2015, he headed up the failed Vote Remain campaign, and then he supported the failed anti-democratic coup attempt against Jeremy Corbyn.

According to the LBC presenter Stig Abell Cameron intends to hand out  48 gongs to supporters of the failed Remain campaign, and not a single one to anyone who campaigned for Brexit! Even if you opposed Brexit, the sheer bias of Cameron's goodbye gifts to his mates is blatantly disgusting.

Stig Abell proposed the solution of barring politicians from being given honours, and barring anyone who earns over £50,000 per year for the job they're supposedly being honoured for too.

My solution is a lot simpler. The whole anti-democratic honours system is just a way of bestowing establishment privilege on a select few. The whole system has now been hopelessly discredited by the cronyinsm of David Cameron and his predecessors as Prime Minister. This anti-meritocratic shambles should be abandoned completely. All honours should be rescinded and the anti-democratic House of Lords should be replaced with an elected upper chamber.

If the public want the honours system to continue in some form to recognise the achievements of people who really deserve recognition, the handing out of honours should be regulated by professional bodies. The Prime Minister and the the rest of the Westminster establishment should have no influence at all over who gets recognised.

If people want letters after their names, or prefixes, they should earn them through academic endeavour, or through recognition of their achievements by a relevant professional body. They shouldn't just be able to obtain them through being mates with David Cameron, or whoever is the Prime Minister of the day.

If people want to serve in the UK's upper legislative chamber they should get themselves elected to do so. They shouldn't be able to earn a lifetime ticket to the £300 per day for just showing up club simply by virtue of being a longstanding member of the Westminster establishment clique, or through making huge donations to the Westminster establishment political parties. 

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