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News & views

K for Murray? What a racquet

Even before Andy Murray had won the Wimbledon men’s singles, the first Briton to do so in 77 years, lamebrains were speculating whether he should get a knighthood. Then, at a Downing Street reception for the victor, David Cameron, giddy in the reflected glory, declared he couldn’t think of anyone more worthy of a K.

You have to hope that Murray will become the highest-profile person to refuse such phony ‘honours’, joining other refuseniks like the poet Benjamin Zephaniah, who didn't fancy being associated with the 'British Empire' aspect of MBEs, OBEs and the like.

The British civil honours system is rotten to the core and always has been, with every bi-annual list of winners stuffed with faded politicians, civil servants, and donors to political parties.

Plenty of the ‘ordinary people’ given these awards richly deserve recognition for their good deeds but the process is utterly invidious, with equally worthy people ignored while the well-connected and those with well-organized supporters pick up the gongs.

Think of British secret agent Pearl Witherington, parachuted behind enemy lines in 1943 to do heroic work with the French resistance. She was offered an MBE ‘for civil achievements’, which she refused as ‘there was nothing civil about what I did’ – only in 2004 did she finally accept a CBE. By comparison, Tony Robinson (of ‘Blackadder’ and Baldrick fame), has just been awarded the far higher honour of a knighthood, mainly for being highly placed in a political party. 

Perhaps the most nauseating aspect of the whole honours charade is seeing people of staunchly republican opinions turning up to collect their medals at Buckingham Palace and bending the knee to the royal personages they affect to despise so much.

What next? The Queen giving a knighthood to Gerry Adams for services to peace and reconciliation? 

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