Tony Blair receiving the queen’s highest honour, rather than being tried for war crimes, is the establishment doing what it does best – serving its own interests. Curtis Daly asks: is it time to abolish the honours system?
The United Kingdom has an archaic honours system that began in 1066. At the turn of this new year, those who’ve been ‘honoured’ leave a lot to be desired – as does the system itself. Does the honours system dishonour us?
The 2022 new years honours list has been revealed. It recognises everyone from those who have served in the medical field to the most recent actor to play James Bond. However, the ones that have made the headlines have also been the most controversial.
Tony Blair wasn’t just given any old honour, he was given the ”Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter.” That’s both the oldest order of British chivalry and the highest ranking.’
A bunch of words that are only important to the British establishment.
We know why he was given an honour. Blair represents exactly what the British state embodies. The man is encapsulated within the establishment. His tenure as prime minister served the status quo, and now, lucky for Blair, the status quo serves him.
Since leaving office 15 years ago, Blair has embarked on a lifestyle of riches befriending those in high places.
With multiple properties under his belt, cozy relationships with dictators and tycoons, it’s no wonder he was worth an estimated £60m in 2015.
A petition that currently stands at over 700,000 signatures is calling for his knighthood to be stripped.
Of course it’s possible nothing will come of it, after all nothing came of a million people marching to stop Blair’s war – but it’s very poignant that over half a million have spoken up, when it was estimated in 2018 that around 500,000 people were killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars he helped start.’
The British establishment may have thought that people have forgotten or forgiven his past crimes, but that’s clearly not true – people still despise him.
Less well known figure Trevor Phillips was also included. This man was formally the chair of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, yet was suspended from the Labour Party in 2020 for alleged Islamophobia.
Phillips, who has been quoted as saying that Muslims are creating “nations within nations”, was somehow elevated to the position of authority on equality. Obviously it’s no surprise our British institutions don’t take racism seriously, when they employ people like Phillips.
It wouldn’t be a proper honours list if there wasn’t a billionaire on there, but don’t worry, we are in luck!
Hedge fund boss David Harding was awarded a knighthood for his services to philanthropy.
He was indeed very generous, as he’s given £1.5m to the Conservative Party.
John-Paul Marks, a civil servant of the Scottish government, was named a Companion of the Order of the Bath.
The honours system is quite clearly a sham, and Jeff Stelling perfectly encapsulates the anger many people feel.
“The new year’s honours should go to someone- not go to someone, for doing their job well and being paid for it. They should not go to the rich and famous, they should not go to sportsmen or women for simply winning something. They should not go to political cronies. They should go to ordinary people doing extraordinary things in terms of charity, heroism or terrific community work. Those are the people that should get OBEs and MBEs and not me, and not a lot of people on that list today.”
The sentiment expressed is good, but it does miss the central point. The honours system upholds the myth of the divine monarch, bestowing awards to her subjects. It perpetuates the story of empire and colonisation, and it’s precisely this image that the Conservatives use to sell themselves, and that Keir Starmer is also now pushing with his nationalist speeches in front of union flags.
For me and you, these awards are nonsensical and meaningless. They are representative of incredibly archaic structures. Despite social change and our attitudes towards class, race, and sexuality transforming significantly, the structures of the British State have been largely unchanged.
The monarchy, the honours system, and knighthoods are the epitome of inequality, especially of class.
Can we really call ourselves a democratic society with corrupt politicians and people of immense wealth being honoured by the British establishment?
It’s hard to see how.
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