We need a new honours system

20 October 2016

Republic has called on MPs to launch a root-and-branch review of the honours system.

You can write to your MP to ask them to support a full review.

The MPs' vote to strip Philip Green of his knighthood is a clear reminder that the honours system is rotten to the core.  Whatever their character no-one should be awarded for doing their job, whether they're a milkman or a billionaire retailer.  We definitely need a system that stops politicians awarding honours to friends, allies and the well-connected.

Republic believes 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.

We take the view that the current honours system has been corrupted to the point of being worthless, and that 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.

We believe 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.

We accept that it is for each individual to decide if they wish to accept an honour.  However we do not recognise those honours or titles that have been awarded through such a disreputable system.