Saturday, June 15, 2013

Sell-Outs & Hold-Outs: The Birthday Honours

                            Vanessa Redgrave, who declined a Damehood from Tony Blair.

I don’t like the honours system. If I were ever offered an honour, which isn’t going to happen, I would tell them to shove it up their arse. Politely. So it always depresses (and bemuses) me to hear that people who I think ought to know better have accepted one.

Today’s transgressor of my idiosyncratic moral code is PJ Harvey, famed indie (I suppose) singer, who emerged in the Nineties (I think) with some of the most raw and exciting music being made back then. The most recent prior offender (whose acceptance of the honour almost killed me, it’s fair to say) was Kate Bush.

The honours system is one of the more conspicuous symbols of the stratified British society we should have buried in 1945. I’m calling no one “Sir” in the country where I was born, thanks all the same. England was built on the labours of men like my grandfather and great-grandfather, who sweated their best years away in factories and on farms.

Give Fred Garnham a posthumous knighthood Mr. Cameron, for all the years he worked at Ransom & Rapier's in Ipswich. For being a good dad and a Portman Road stalwart. Then we’ll talk.

Governments of whichever shade of blue give honours for political reasons. To spin their own image by associating themselves with personalities who meet that end. David Cameron probably does listen to Adele, also honoured today, but if he could name more than one PJ Harvey song without a script I’d be astonished.

She’s on the list for the same reason The Smiths received his weird verbal endorsement a year or two ago – i.e., to pick up extra votes by hoodwinking thirty- and fortysomethings into believing he might still be a Newer Sort of Tory, despite his frequent lurches to the Right in recent times.

But let’s not forget. As welcome as the same sex marriage bill was, Cameron is still responsible, as the leader of the government, for the Bedroom Tax, the dismantling of the NHS, merciless assaults on the welfare system, and countless other iniquities aside.

Thankfully Johnny Marr castigated the Tory premier for trying to co-opt his band so transparently. And that would have been him off the first draft of the next honours list straight away (with an honour from a future Labour PM in the pipeline). Morrissey will never be on any party's list, wonderful old anti-establishment curmudgeon that he is.

Why do other people who once seemed to stand for an intelligent critique of politics and culture in this country become so grateful for the patronage of the robber barons of Power as soon as they reach middle age? I don’t know. I’m fast approaching fifty now and I’m less inclined to be a part of the System than I ever was.


Anonymous said...


Bruce Hodder said...

Cheers Barry.

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