Well, another Honours List is published and yet again, amazingly I know, my name hasn't appeared on it. According to the you.gov website, the majority of honours went to 'ordinary' people which may explain it. I'm obviously not ordinary enough.
Clearly having too much time on my hands, I've actually read through the full list and it does, indeed, contain the names of many ordinary people who have done extraordinary things but equally, it seems the quickest way to a knighthood these days is to be a civil servant, party lackey or donor or work in the city. David Cameron's idea of The Big Society, you know, the one where we all work for nothing to ensure the continuation of public services that the government should be paying for, seems to mean Big Wallets and Big Bungs. Of course, any suggestion that our Dear Leader(s) has used the Honours List to scratch the backs of the party faithful would be horribly disingenuous, but since the Coalition came to power, the number of
w bankers and city boys who have been honoured has risen to about a third from just handful previously.
So here is my own personal list of the Undeservingly Honoured:
Andrew Witty - The Chief Executive of GlaxoSmithKline, which agreed last year to pay a record $53bn fine in the US. This was in relation to charges that GSK have defrauded the US health system, Medicaid, by overcharging, paying doctors 'advisory fees' to ensure they recommended GSK drugs, tried to persuade doctors to prescribe drugs that were not approved by the regulators for certain conditions such as anti-depressants as slimming aids and marketed drugs which had known, dangerous side effects.
Paul Ruddock - wait a minute, I hear you say, Mr Ruddock is an expert on medieval art, chairman of the V&A and on the board of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Surely he should be honoured for his services to the art world? But this same Mr Ruddock made his money from hedge funds and short selling and he personally profited from the collapse of Northern Rock, which you and me, but probably not him, have had to pay to bail out. Oh, and he also donated $500,000 to the Conservative Party but that's probably just a coincidence right?
John Buchanan - Chairman of Vodafone and the man who has overseen the disappearance of billions of pounds of profit, money that belonged by rights to the country, into a tangled network of offshore avoidance schemes. A rough estimate of the amount lost to the nation's coffers is £25 million but that doesn't include the lastest 'scam' uncovered by Private Eye (simply the best £1.50 you can spend) which looks to be every bit as big. Fortunately for 'Sir' John, his very cosy relationship with Dave Hartnett, who sounds like a secondary school history teacher but really is Britain's top tax man (honoured with a CB in 2003), meant that he could persuade HMRC, over a very expensive lunch or two, to look the other way. If you're with Vodafone, leave now, vote with your feet, don't let Vodafone get away with it again
James Lupton - one of the elite group of Conservatives who got to have dinner with Dave in return for a £50,000 donation to Tory funds. He liked it so much that he donated £105,000 and got a CBE for his troubles. He could have had lunch with me for a fraction of that and I'd have been a damn sight more entertaining!
Ruby Macgregor-Smith - never heard of her? Me neither, but as the boss of Mitie, an outsourcing company, she signed a business leaders' letter backing Herr Chancellor George Osbourne's austerity programme. The letter promised that the private sector could provide employment for all the redundant public sector workers, a claim that has subsequently proved to resemble the contents of my septic tank. A DBE for you, my girl!
Jamie Bowden - one of the 'extraordinary people' in the public sector who were honoured, Mr Bowden, our man in Bahrain, became and apologist for the Bahraini government's brutal crackdown on dissidents during the Arab Spring uprising. In a newletter to local businessmen he commented that 'It was a great relief to all of us when the government was able to re-establish order on the streets', scant relief to the families of the hundreds of protestors who were killed or arrested and tortured by the state. Mr Bowden also welcomed the use of Saudi tanks against protesters in order to stop those naughty little A-rabs getting above themselves. Don't they know that Western democracy is the only way forward? How about a CMG for your troubles?
Andrew Tyler - Chief Operating Officer at the MoD's purchasing organistion and the MoD's second highest earner, he was responsible for procuring the kit for our boys in Afghanistan between 2006 and 2011. His procurement skills were such that he was brought in front of the public accounts committee to answer questions on some of his more 'inspired' procurement decision.... like refuelling planes which can't fly in combat zones and the multi-billion pound delay to aircraft carriers. As he quietly slipped off back into the private sector with a CBE in his back pocket to try out his exemplary procurement skills there, he commented that the MoD procurement unit was ''the most efficient and effective defence acquisition organisation in the world'. Oh really!
Helena Bonham-Carter - she's a bloody actress, for God's sake!
Peter Bazalgette - From his early days at Auntie Beeb, 'Baz' as he's known to his friends, rose through the ranks to the heady heights of Chairman of Endemol UK. Sir Peter was knighted for his 'services to broadcasting'. These 'services' include bringing into our homes such pinnacles of broadcasting achievement as Big Brother, which gave us the universal delights of Jade Goody and Deal or No Deal, possibly the most pointless show on television. Although we can't actually blame him for creating them; we have the Dutch (BB) and the French (Deal or No Deal) to blame for that, he was instrumental in turning them into the global formats they now are. Baz is a scion of Sir Joseph Bazalgette, the man who invented sewers in Victorian times and who was knighted for his system that removed sewage from every home in the capital. How ironic is it then, that two generations later, his great grandson is honoured for bringing a pile of shit right back into our homes!