More in the Breech

3 January 2007

OBEs Could Get Lapel Badge for £15

Once again, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has put out the New Year’s Honours List, and once again, one has been overlooked. A duchy is probably too much to expect, but an OBE for services to the cause of republicanism in Britain certainly is in order. Still, one is spared the moral conundrum of whether to pony up £15 for a button hole badge since the sale of hono(u)rs has got Mr. Blair into such trouble.

Sir Hayden Phillips and the Select Committee on Public Administration, keepers of the British honours system, have decided that those 120,000 living members of the Order of the British Empire should have a subtle and discreet badge for everyday wear. And it isn’t a bad idea since the lads at the Admiral Codrington take the mickey out of anyone who shows up with the big shiny medal on the ribbon that HRM hands out. The smaller device would cost the holder £15; apparently, Her Majesty’s resources are being diverted to other projects, such as corgi breeding and insulating the Tower of London.

The French are years ahead in this field, every member of the Légion d’honneur (Jerry Lewis included) can wear a small rosette on the lapel of a sports jacket or suit coat (or jogging suit or T-shirt) and many do. However, the Brits, with their retiring modesty, seem less excited about their gongs and ribbons. After all, this is a country where surgeons go by “Mr.” rather than “Dr.”

Still, Sir Gus O’Donnell, the Cabinet Secretary, supports the idea, “I hope that many will choose to wear them with pride. I also believe that this is an important step in increasing overall awareness and understanding of the Honours system.” Yet the system seems to be understood all too well by some.

Chai Patel, Sir David Garrard, Sir Gulam Noon and Barry Townsley “loaned” money to the Labour Party ahead of the most recent election, six or seven figures apiece by some accounts. The first three are due to be repaid this year and the latter in 2008. Each was recommended for a peerage by Downing Street, and each peerage was blocked by the Lords-appointments commission. If the Select Committee on Public Administration really wants this idea to take off, they need to charge more.

© Copyright 2007 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Fedora Linux.


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