Honours system is discredited. I’ve said no

London, UK – 31 December 2016


“Yet again we see what looks like honours for cash, with company bosses who donated to the Tory party receiving prestigious awards. This smacks of cronyism. It corrupts the honours system,” said human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who said he would not accept a honour if it was offered.

“The Queen has given honours to her postman, hairdresser, pastry chef and flower arranger. This nepotism discredits the honours system and insults recipients of genuine outstanding achievement or who have made personal sacrifices for the benefit of society.

“Over the last decade, I have three times been asked if I would be ‘minded’ to accept an OBE, knighthood or peerage if they were offered. I said no. I could never accept an honour because the titles reek of aristocracy and empire, and the system is corrupted when financiers and friends of the Establishment scoop the top awards.

“In each case, the caller declined to identify himself or say on whose behalf he was calling. I have no idea if the sounding out was genuine or a tabloid sting.

“Nearly all the most prestigious honours go to the rich and powerful. The honours system is mostly the elite rewarding the elite. Ordinary people who have made real sacrifices receive the lesser awards, like the BEM and MBE.

“The honours system badly needs reform. It should be cleansed of all aristocratic and imperial titles and be replaced by a simple Order of Britain, with gold, silver and bronze grades depending on the contribution of the individual.

“Honours should be restricted to outstanding achievers and those who have made personal sacrifices for the benefit of the public. Party donors, political loyalists and government time-servers should be banned. No one should get a honour for long service in a well paid job.”