Lists of Lords, Knights, and Dames: Honours for Achievements and Consolatory Awards for Resignation

Author Alexander Tatiev
Category Columnists, People, Town
Date January 9 2024
Reading Time 3 min.

Lists of Lords, Knights, and Dames: Honours for Achievements and Consolatory Awards for Resignation

The Publicised Honours List 2024 brings to the forefront numerous outstanding personalities from the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth in various fields such as sports, arts, media, education, healthcare, and science. However, this year, the annual tradition coincided with another similar event – the publication of the “consolatory honours list for resignation” by former Prime Minister Liz Truss. Both were released on the same day, just before the New Year festivities. But let’s take it step by step…

The Publicised Honours List 2024 brings to the forefront numerous outstanding personalities from the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth in various fields such as sports, arts, media, education, healthcare, and science. However, this year, the annual tradition coincided with another similar event the publication of the “consolatory honours list for resignation” by former Prime Minister Liz Truss. Both were released on the same day, just before the New Year festivities. But let’s take it step by step…

Firstly, about the annual honours. The system involves a complex nomination process based on personal recommendations. Most honours are awarded by the monarch on the advice of the serving or outgoing Prime Minister, providing a combination of official recognition and political influence. While political figures play a crucial role in the nomination process, anyone else can suggest a candidate. The Honours and Appointments Secretariat at the Cabinet Office conducts a thorough vetting process, ensuring confidentiality of private information, such as tax details. Individuals set to receive a peerage undergo additional scrutiny by the House of Lords Appointments Commission.

Those deemed most worthy after several levels of scrutiny are honoured with various categories of titles, each carrying its own significance and privileges. These titles acknowledge contributions to various aspects of public and political life. Associated benefits range from prefixes to names to privileges such as access to specific events (weddings, christenings, memorial services). For example, life peers (within the peerage system) receive the title of Lord or Lady and are entitled to financial compensation for attending sessions in the House of Lords. The Order of the British Empire includes titles such as Commander (CBE), Officer (OBE), Member (MBE), and British Empire Medal (BEM), each denoting different levels of achievement.

Now, the noteworthy awardees of 2024:

– Shirley Bassey (Dame Commander) the iconic Bond singer honoured for outstanding contributions to music, making her the 64th living Companion of the Order of Honour;

Jilly Cooper (Dame) a novelist recognized for exceptional contributions to literature and charity;

– Brian Clarke (Knighthood) a stained glass artist, the first in his field to receive a knighthood;

– Sonia Boyce (Dame) the first Black woman to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale, honoured for an outstanding contribution to the world of art;

– Sir Ridley Scott (Knight Grand Cross) a cinema legend recognized for significant contributions to the British film industry;

– Sajid Javid (Knighthood) former Chancellor and Home Secretary, acknowledged for outstanding political and public service;

– Mary Earps (MBE) goalkeeper for the England national team and Manchester United, awarded MBE for outstanding contributions to sports.

The merits of these and several other awardees in 2024 are undoubtedly appreciated and will become part of the Kingdom’s history. However, the list of nominees presented by Liz Truss after resigning as Prime Minister in October 2022 sparked significant controversy. Naming her candidates, the former prime minister with the shortest tenure (49 days) emphasised, “I am pleased that these champions of conservative ideas of freedom, limited government, and a proud and sovereign Britain have received due honour.”

And while nominations from outgoing prime ministers are traditional, this time the current head of government, Rishi Sunak, faced calls to block Truss’s list. Her 11 nominations mostly consisted of political supporters and former aides.

For instance:

– Conservative donor John Moynihan, former CEO and chairman of PA Consulting Group, who led the “Vote Leave” campaign (donated £50,000 to Truss’s election campaign), as well as former Vote Leave program director Matthew Elliott and ex-senior Truss aide Ruth Porter, were nominated for seats in the House of Lords;

– Conservative MP Alec Shelbrooke, former minister for defenceprocurement, who supported Truss’s campaign for Conservative Party leadership, received a knighthood;

– Conservative MP for Thurrock Jackie Doyle-Price, a long-time friend of Ms. Truss, who held the position of Business Minister during her brief tenure at No. 10, becomes a Dame;

– Conservative MPs and former ministerial aides Rob Butler and Suzanne Webb, as well as former special advisors Sophie Jarvis and Shabbir Merali, received CBE degrees;

– Chairman of the Tory party in the southwest Norfolk constituency, David Hills, received MBE.

In the interest of fairness, it’s worth noting the only non-political figure in Liz Truss’s list, writer Shirley Conran, who becomes a Dame for contributions to mathematical education as the founder of the Maths Anxiety Trust.

Downing Street denies bias in the compilation of the nominee list, insisting that Liz Truss’s candidates underwent all standard checks, and the publication simply coincided with New Year ceremonies. “This is a long-standing convention whereby the serving prime minister does not block proposals from other political parties for peerages,” clarified No. 10.

Nevertheless, another perspective seems justifiable: “Many will be upset to see Liz Truss handing out peerages to friends and supporters after her catastrophically short tenure as prime minister. It appears that the political class is rewarding for failures at a time when many people are still suffering the consequences of her turbulent premiership,” noted Willie Sullivan, Senior Director of Electoral Campaigns at the Electoral Reform Society.

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