Saturday 17 June 2006

Arise! Sir Easy

Of monarchies, republics and value

I had only a few days ago been commenting on the value systems of republics, monarchies, chieftaincies and so-called hereditary privileges.

Also, it is interesting to note that generally, those left of centre are more inclined to prefer republics whilst those to the right would rather retain the monarchy although that probably would be in countries where a constitutional monarchy exists.

Sometimes, I shed parts of my liberal cloak to reveal conservative inclinations to the monarchy, to their value in terms of historical, traditional and cultural heritage; which for me weigh more than the nominal cost of maintenance and the hereditary aspects of it.

In the United Kingdom where many have fought tooth and nail to eliminate the class system only to find a new hierarchy developed in the under-class of the deprived, the upper class of the wealthy and privileged, the middle class of the taxed to the hilt and the working class of the barely getting along – the problem is not so much the monarchy or the republic but the quality of political leadership and government.

Honour the doers

However, one thing does get celebrated in the United Kingdom, the honours system, though over time it has been abused for political patronage and messed up in the House of Lords where hereditary peers have been replaced by appointed “stooges”.

Every year at the new year and the Queen’s official birthday which is in June rather than April which is the real month of her birth, a list of peerages, knighthoods, damehoods, CBEs, OBEs, MBEs - in decreasing order of significance – is released laudable people for their services to society through their work, professions, charity or vocations.

Some get honoured over time as they are promoted through each honour title and some just get placed in the hierarchy.

Some of the awards of the MBE have been opened up for nominations by the public, of people they believe have contributed significantly to their communities which might not necessarily come to the notice of the government.

Honours and information

People might argue that an honours system is not worthy of a 21st Century democracy, but how then do we acknowledge and reward service beyond the benefits of a salary or some international award like the Nobel Prize?

Beyond that, the list this year contains interesting information like James Goodfellow who is awarded the OBE for the developing the concept of Personal Identification Numbers (PIN) for Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) in the 1960s – a global phenomenon that we use everyday.

In many cases, you might wonder who the person is, what they have done and why they have been acknowledged, but then these things have for all sorts of reasons and the system is usually vetted thoroughly. Whether we agree or not.


This years’ list includes Stelios Haji-Ioannou, an entrepreneur and chairman of the easyGroup group of companies which started off as easyJet and has diversified into every Easy idea you can imagine.

Whilst easyJet brought cheap air travel to the masses, it lowered across the board the quality and level of service we received for short-haul flights in Europe.

There was a time before easyJet, I could expect a meal on a economy flight for the hour flight from London to Amsterdam, now, you get a bread-roll and a bar of chocolate with a drink that not a millilitre more than a gulp down.

Cutting out the frills definitely brings down the cost of travel, it also means you cannot demand quality service and the streets of Amsterdam, Prague and Dublin get filled with lager louts who drink to excess and foul the cities leading to campaigns against those of that ilk.

Not all cheap stuff is good stuff, but if you do have to count the pennies you can fly easyJet, hire an easyCar, stay at an easyHotel, surf the web at easyInternetcafe, do all easy stuff and return with more oranges than an orchard.

The man has done well – Arise! Sir easy.

Tycoons knighted in birthday list

Guide to the honours

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