Wednesday, 14 August 2013

He Who Pays The Piper (Part 3 – Honours)

One of the main reasons for supporting independence is the lack of any prospect of meaningful reform within the UK.  Regardless of which side gets in, there are certain aspects of Westminster governance that simply will not change.  As this blog could conceivably become the longest on this site we’re going to split it into three bite sized parts: donations, outside interests and honours.

In theory, the system of offering honours to those who dedicate their lives to noble causes is one which has great potential.  The reality, however, is quite different:

“Millions of people live in the UK. Many rise above the odds to make a difference for the better. It must be about time that an independent authority decided who should receive honours. Each year the south of England, but in particular London, dominates the honours list. When it is littered with miscreants and former prisoners it has to be wrong. Either that or it becomes a joke. Surely the Queen does not want to become a laughing stock?” Tek Journalism UK (

"Fear will keep the Scotch in line," Moff Tarkin OBE, advisor to Better Together
How is the system supposed to work?
The honours system recognises people who have:
1 – Made achievements in public life
2 – Committed themselves to serving and helping Britain

How does it work?

This passage from is particularly eye-opening:
“Although widely popular in many quarters as a part of British "pomp and circumstance" and as a method of rewarding distinguished service, some aspects of the honours system are highly controversial.

In the past, the honours system has been abused for corrupt purposes. One Maundy Gregory, allegedly encouraged by David Lloyd George, openly sold honours in the 1920s - resulting in the convicted fraudster Sir Joseph Robinson receiving a peerage in 1922 in exchange for £30,000.

Naked corruption of this sort no longer exists, but it is nonetheless the case that donors to political parties are frequently rewarded with honours. Furthermore, the prime minister is able to use honours for leverage: many of the victims of Harold MacMillan's "night of the long knives" were mollified with peerages; more recently it was alleged in some quarters that Tony Blair convinced a number of ageing Labour MPs to retire in 2001 to make way for young New Labour high-fliers, by promising them peerages.” (
It’s painfully obvious that the UK honours system is out of date and horrendously corrupt.  It also causes tensions with other nations and is disrespectful to many people.  The issue has been raised by international news agencies, but the best article came from Benjamin Zephaniah, a famous and influential musician from Jamaica.  
“I woke up on the morning of November 13 wondering how the government could be overthrown and what could replace it, and then I noticed a letter from the prime minister's office. It said: "The prime minister has asked me to inform you, in strict confidence, that he has in mind, on the occasion of the forthcoming list of New Year's honours to submit your name to the Queen with a recommendation that Her Majesty may be graciously pleased to approve that you be appointed an officer of the Order of the British Empire."
Me? I thought, OBE me? Up yours, I thought. I get angry when I hear that word "empire"; it reminds me of slavery, it reminds of thousands of years of brutality, it reminds me of how my foremothers were raped and my forefathers brutalised. It is because of this concept of empire that my British education led me to believe that the history of black people started with slavery and that we were born slaves, and should therefore be grateful that we were given freedom by our caring white masters. It is because of this idea of empire that black people like myself don't even know our true names or our true historical culture. I am not one of those who are obsessed with their roots, and I'm certainly not suffering from a crisis of identity; my obsession is about the future and the political rights of all people. Benjamin Zephaniah OBE - no way Mr Blair, no way Mrs Queen. I am profoundly anti-empire.” (
Disrespectful, hurtful, corrupt and with little prospect of change; the honours system is a great reflection of the true face of Westminster.  We saw in Parts 1 and 2 that Britain isn’t being run well.  With independence we can create a better system, and inspire change elsewhere.

"We need to look after our priorities," joint Tory, Labour and Liberal Statement
But we can’t criticise this corruption if we’re unwilling to take responsibility for ourselves.  We can either vote Yes, or encourage this kind of behaviour to continue.

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