by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Mastodon: @RabBrucesSpider1@Mastodon.Scot

Twitter: @RabBrucesSpider

For the past few years, I’ve been posting out on social media how pleased I am not to have been named in the New Year’s Honours Lists. Of course, the chances of me ever being named are so negligible as to be almost non-existent, but I do sometimes have a hankering to be approached by the Honours Committee just so that I could tell them where to stick their award.

This year, I got to thinking about why the Honours system is still so prevalent in the UK, and why so many people still seem to be impressed by the awards handed out.

To begin with, I know that almost everyone wants to feel appreciated, and sometimes it is nice to receive a reward for a job well done. The Honours system plays on this natural human reaction by handing out awards to people who have allegedly done something to make UK society better. This does include sports personalities, actors, charity workers and other campaigners, but the principal recipients tend to be people who have provided services to the people who run the UK. These awards are, I believe, a way to draw those people ever closer to the Establishment, and to make them part of the governmental system.

"Back the status quo and you’ll be rewarded with titles and a chance to earn more money," seems to be the way that operates.

As for those more ordinary people who are given awards, I must admit to a feeling of disappointment that they accept such baubles and trinkets which are designed only to make them feel grateful to the UK state. Much like military medals which are handed out to members of the armed forces who display bravery, these awards are designed just as much to reinforce loyalty as to show genuine appreciation. Indeed, the awarding of military honours was initially to encourage soldiers to try to outdo one another in their efforts to achieve the aims of their commanders. The Romans, for example, used to award prizes to the first man to reach the top of the wall of a city that was under attack. If that man survived, he could then strut around to show off his prowess to his comrades.

These days, a lot of people do seem almost as proud to display their awards. Perhaps I am in a minority, but I’ve never felt the need to show off the few awards I’ve ever received. Most of them have been for academic achievements rather than anything more unusual, but I’ve still never felt the need to put such things on display. I know of a couple of people who achieved those same qualifications and had the certificates framed and hung on their walls. Quite honestly, I have no idea where any of mine are. Probably at the bottom of a drawer or stuck up in the attic. For me, the achievement was the thing, not the reward.

But an awful lot of people do seem to feel that being given an award in the Honours List is in some way special. Perhaps it is, and I realise that my own objections to this system stem from the way it is implemented and controlled by those in power within the UK.

If Scotland ever does become a normal, self-governing country, I expect some similar sort of Awards system will be implemented. If it is, it would be a much better idea for it to be controlled by an independent review body rather than being left to the whims of whichever politicians happen to be in power. Perhaps a People’s Assembly could be convened once a year to propose and consider candidates, then convey their decision. Any such awards could then be physically handed out by an elected Head of state on behalf of the Republic of Scotland. Even I might consider accepting an award issued under such a system. As long as I have space left in the bottom of a drawer to store it.