January 07, 2010
Sir, The criticisms of the New Year Honours system (letters, Jan 5) are all valid, but nothing new. The system has long been no more than a mixture of tokenism, a substitute for paying civil servants a competitive wage and a means for the incumbent government to signify it is in touch with popular sentiment.
The decision to award all of the men’s cricket team MBEs in 2005 is a good example of the last, rather than simply bias against women. Geraint Jones received an MBE for his services as wicketkeeper in the 2005 Ashes. By contrast, both Alan Knott and Bob Taylor, whom one might respectfully suggest had rather more distinguished careers as English wicketkeepers, never received an honour between them. Paul Collingwood’s award was on the basis of a single appearance in the fifth Test, in which he contributed an important 10 in the second innings; Graham Thorpe did not receive an MBE until he had played 100 tests and Mark Butcher, who played 71 tests, has never received a thing.
Perhaps it is better to recognise that the system, like that of MPs’ expenses, is fundamentally flawed rather than simply flawed in execution, and do away with it accordingly.