The non-appearance of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre on the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, which caused Saturday’s front page “Dishonours!” eruption on the Daily Mail’s front page, has now resulted in an obedient pundit being sent over the top in support, and dutifully obliging today is none other than Melanie “not just Barking but halfway to Upminster” Phillips.
Certainly not fair and balanced
“Blackadder and a celebrity-obsessed honours system that insults our genuine heroes” thunders the headline. There are two photos of Tony Robinson, who has had the effrontery to support the Labour Party. Mel, as is usual, starts quietly and almost reasonably with “One of the functions of the honours list is to make the nation feel good about itself”. No disagreement there.
And so she continues: “When looking at the names on that list, people should feel, through the worth embodied by these individuals, proud of belonging to a society that upholds these values” before the mood darkens. “In recent years, however, the honours list has produced by contrast a certain lowering of the spirit. For a number of names on it seem to have arrived there for cynical, venal or opportunistic reasons”.
So what’s the problem? Mel admits “the great majority of those who received such awards were being honoured for genuine achievement or service to the community. Almost three-quarters of them were being singled out for their charitable or community work”. She even gives an example, of a couple who have run a lunch club for more than 27 years. Nothing “cynical, venal or opportunistic” there!
But, having softened up the readers, Mel arrives at the main event, kicking the top man at Thames Water for not lifting the hosepipe ban as soon as it rained in Spring last year. The only conclusion that can be reached from this attack is that Dacre’s country pile falls within the Thames Water area, and he’s sore at being prevented from using a hosepipe when he damn well wants to.
And then Mel comes to Tony Robinson, whose “knighthood was awarded for ‘public and political service’ rather than entertainment. So what exactly was that service? He was a Labour activist, having joined the party’s National Executive Committee in 2000. So his knighthood was for service to the Labour Party”. No mention of all the books he wrote and the TV and charitable work, eh Mel?
When Mel bangs on about “gongs being so cynically and brazenly hijacked for party political gain”, she does not disclose her editor’s interest, and nor does she let her readers know that there is rather more to some of the awards than the selectively assembled facts that she chooses to present. But she does demonstrate that, as another who is not on the honours list, she’s an ideal choice to attack it.
And it makes Dacre less unhappy about being passed over, so that’s all right, then.