The Honours system is far from even

DID you receive a gong in the New Year Honours List?

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No, me neither.

Did you want one, would you accept one, or is it an outdated tradition abused by politicians to reward associates in a 'you scratch my back I'll scratch yours' game? It depends on what you have been given the award for, as the range of those on the huge list is enormous.

Many like the teachers, health and community workers are given their honour for a public service, but then there are those whose inclusion appears to be a result of business and political connections. So I am more than happy to congratulate Margaret Miller, the 103-year-old Glasgow woman on her second British Empire Medal, for her voluntary work which began in 1939.

There are others however who fail to raise a smile and only serve to discredit the entire system which leads to accusations of at best cronyism and at worst corruption.

This year's list includes people who have been longstanding donors to the parties of government, people who have promoted the interests and careers of government ministers, Tory Party constituency chairmen and MPs who used the expenses system to rent second homes from colleagues and lavishly furnish them.

It is this aspect of the honours system that stinks worse than Shieldhall sewage works on a hot summer's day.

This year, of the almost 1200 people to receive honours almost three quarters were for outstanding work in their communities.

But among the awards considered to be the highest the establishment bias becomes evident. The list of Knights Bachelors, of which there were only twenty, included three MPs, one former deputy Governor of the Bank of England and two professors from Oxford University. The list of Dames also includes several professors and chief executives.

What purpose does this system serve, other than to preserve a hierarchical society in which even when you are recognised the Monarch there is a pecking order from MBEs up to Knighthoods and Damehoods.

Celebrities who happen to be successful and famous for a few years merit an award and those who manage to stay successful for a few years longer are almost guaranteed and even expect an honour. People who are already handsomely rewarded are then given even more.

Meanwhile, most people toil endlessly in their job year in year out hoping only to be paid enough to enjoy a decent standard of living.

If the system is to survive the Order of the Boot it has to shed the image of patronage and those making the recommendations have to look farther than the end of their own noses.

There are many people who are deserving of society's recognition, and if any help is needed with the nominations they can have a look at the Evening Times Community Champions.

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