Outside the marginals

a commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010 & 2015 elections

Honour Lists – Honourable Members

How many professions are there where you get a knighthood merely for “industry and longevity”?  Well, MPs do. It’s not as if it’s not a well paid and comfortable job. What is so special about “political service” that you get knighthoods awarded? 20 Years as a lollipop lady and you get a BEM.

Anyone done an analysis of which professions stand the greatest chance of being honoured and at what level?

Starter for 10 looking at levels:

BEM Lollipop ladies and School dinner ladies (yes I know)
MBE Sportsmen and women who after years get a bit of personal success,
Charity workers
Ordinary Celebrities
OBE Sportsmen and women who have succeeded and done a bit more (captaincy, charity work)
Top Teachers and Medics,
Charity Leaders,
Really Popular Celebrities
Minor Businessmen and women (for them to get an MBE is a bit infra-dig)
CBE More senior businessmen,
Very senior Educationalists, Medics and Scientists
OBEs who have done a bit more (charity work, profession leaders)
Knights & Dames Politicians,
Civil Servants,
National Treasures
Peerages The Great and Good – which includes a lot of superannuated politicians

The 2015 New Years Honours List gives the following data about rates:

Honour Total Awarded Active Politicians
CH (Companions Of Honour) 4 Lord Ashdown
Lord Young¹
Knights (Bachelor) 21 David Amess
Hugh Bayley¹
GCB, KCB, DCB (Order of Bath – knighthood ranks – reserved for civil service and military) 1  n/a
GCMG, KCMG, DCMG (Order of St Michael and St George – knighthood ranks – reserved for diplomats) 0  n/a
GBE, KBE, DBE (Order of British Empire – knighthood ranks) 16  Anne McGuire¹
CBE (Order of British Empire – Commander)  107  nil
OBE (Order of British Empire – Officer)  243 Charles Walker
(& 1 ex-MEP)²
MBE (Order of British Empire – Member)  473  nil
BEM (British Empire Medal)  292  nil

Data drawn from 2015 New Years Honours Lists, Details of Honours from Wikipedia, Names of Politicians Honoured from ¹BBC News Website and ²scan of the Honours lists

If you want to get one of the higher honours, it looks as if your chances are significantly better if you are a politician. Looking at the chances, it’s not that 3 out 650 MPs got Knighthoods (or Damehoods); the chances are much greater because of those 650 a large number are already Knights or Dames, and then some will have refused (or would refuse) such honours on principle. So it may be that there are only around 400 MPs able and willing to be so honoured; 3 out of 400 is pretty good odds.

Why don’t estate agents, journalists and bankers get honoured at similar rates and levels?

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One thought on “Honour Lists – Honourable Members

  1. Why do we persist in such arcane titles?

    Anyway, whilst I support the idea of an Honours System, as you so eloquently point out it can resemble a pals list. That being said, it has improved from what it was a few years ago.

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