An honours system without honour

8 February 2017

The Mirror has reported that a company is charging clients thousands of pounds to "discreetly help [them] win honours such as OBEs, knighthoods and even peerages."

Republic has condemned the practice and repeated its call for a radical overhaul of the honours system.  Here's what we believe should happen:

  • Honours should be reserved for those who have performed exemplary service above and beyond the call of duty or who have committed significant acts of bravery.  The process should be clear and transparent and not shrouded in secrecy.
  • The current honours system has been corrupted to the point of being worthless, clearly the system is used to award political allies and donors and to confer rank on establishment figures and the ‘great and good’.  It is also used as a PR opportunity by governments wanting to promote their populist credentials by awarding honours to celebrities.  It is an unscrupulous system of patronage and PR.
  • There should be a wholly new honours system, couched in language and symbolism that reflects our nation’s modern democratic values and culture.  The new honours system would have no references to empire, royalty or monarchy.  We fully support the need to continue to honour our armed forces by awarding medals for bravery and sacrifice and that reform of the honours system should include new armed forces medals that have no royal associations.
  • While we accept that many people deserve public recognition through an honours system we believe the current practice of handing out thousands of gongs to undeserving recipients (often of a higher rank than the more deserving) cheapens any award.  We would encourage all nominees to publicly reject any such honour until such time as they are appropriately titled and properly reserved for legitimate purposes.