Should honours be more public?

Should the honours system find more worthy recipients?

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Does the honours system need to recognise better people?

By Joe Harker

Theresa May has announced her list of resignation honours, the people she believes have earned knighthoods, peerages and the like.

Like many things from her time in charge of the country, it has been roundly slated as an absolutely terrible list stuffed to the brim with her friends and allies from her time as prime minister.

Many have questioned whether those who will receive honours have really done all that much to deserve them, or whether the system is undermined by awards being handed out to the prime minister's friends.

The Claim:

There's a knighthood for Olly Robbins, May's main man on Brexit negotiations that produced a thrice rejected deal, while her former chiefs of staff Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill will receive CBEs.

That's the same Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill who got lumped with the blame for the disastrous 2017 general election where May lost her majority and the fortunes of the UK have really only worsened since.

One of the most controversial additions is Geoffrey Boycott, the former prime minister's favourite sportsman. He has been convicted of domestic violence (something he denies) and said he "couldn't give a toss" about the criticism of receiving the honour.

The list is a sorry collection of cronies and supporters during May's disastrous time in office, a perfect example of a prime minister handing out honours like sweets to those who have backed her, rather than done anything worthy to earn it.

Shouldn't the honours system do a better job of recognising members of the public who make significant contributions to society or their communities?

The Counter Claim:

On the other hand, why do we have an honours system at all?

Know what the "BE" part of MBEs, OBEs and CBEs stands for? British Empire, which it is arguable hasn't really existed for decades.

Some who might be honoured by the system have been reluctant to accept awards steeped in the trappings of Empire, maybe it's time to change the system altogether into something with less ties to imperialism and colonialism.

A few who are scheduled to receive honours turn them down altogether, others have had to do some serious soul searching on whether they should accept an accolade that is supposed to be congratulating them.

The Facts:

Members of the public can be nominated for an honour by their peers, though the specific honour isn't up to the nominator.

In addition to politicians nominating honours, there is a list published at the new year and on the Monarch's official birthday and over a thousand people are on each list.

In terms of ranking the different Order of the British Empire awards, the first level is Member of the Order of the British Empire, or MBE. Up from Member is Officer (OBE), then Commander (CBE), then Knight/Dame Commander (KBE/DBE) and finally Knight/Dame Grand Cross (GBE).

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