My brother has just been awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) because he’s retiring from a well-paid job as HM Principal Inspector for the Health and Safety Executive, a position which took him all over the world and many visits to Continental Europe.
While our mother will no doubt be proud, these awards are routinely handed out to people in these sort of jobs when they retire. I’m afraid it doesn’t impress me, quite apart from the fact that it would be completely unacceptable to a republican like myself who does not recognize the Queen as a legitimate Head of State, would not bow and scrape before royalty, and who knows that the British Empire is nothing to be proud of, and thankfully was disbanded decades ago.
I’m not against honors provided they are not associated with royalty, the monarchy the ‘empire’ and provided don’t come with a title like ‘Sir’, ‘Dame’, ‘Lord’, ‘Lady’, etc. and also provided they go to deserving people. Routinely handing them out to people retiring from high-powered positions, usually well paid, makes a complete mockery of the whole thing.
I’ve no idea what my brother actually does in his job, but I do know what little contact he has with our mother and myself. She is 97 and I am her main carer. I have asked my brother to keep in touch more regularly as, should something happen to me, he would be the next of kin. She would also like to hear from him much more often than she does.
I know he lives miles away in one of the Yorkshire counties and is often abroad, but even if he couldn’t visit more often or spend the occasional Christmas with her (which she’d love) he could at least phone her once a month or so.
If you’re reading this, Philip, please take note. Mum would love to hear from you much more often. As I said in a recent email to you (no reply received) as next-of-kin you would be responsible for her should something happen to me, so I hope you’d take your responsibilities seriously.
As to the honors system, it largely rewards those faithful to the Establishment, many in well-paid positions, and completely ignores those ordinary people who help others voluntarily and those of us who have given lifelong service to the peace movement, to promoting a fairer society (such as Socialism, replacing the Monarchy with a republic, etc.)
My brother may be highly deserving of this award for his work with the Health and Safety Executive, I don’t know as we see him and hear from him so rarely we don’t really know what his job involves.
Personally, in the very unlikely event I’d have been honored in this way, I’d have refused because the honor is named after a obsolete imperialist empire and is handed out by a royalty I don’t recognize. However if anyone wishes to establish an Order of Karl Marx, an Order of Bertrand Russell, an Order of the Republic or something similar I would he happy to accept for my lifelong services to Socialism, the peace movement, republicanism and for a fairer society and to people generally.
This is not merely ’sour grapes’ – I have never been impressed by these sort of honors handed out by the sovereign, especially when they are in the name of a thankfully long defunct empire and routinely given to people the Establishment favors when they retire from well-paid positions.