Saturday, 4 March 2017

Arise, Sir Bonkers

The Times reports that Nigel Farage allowed himself too be upstaged by a young girl who brought the former Ukip leader down to earth with a bang while awarding him a mock 'knighthood' on Russia Today, the Kremlin's propaganda TV channel.

Cutting quip as Farage is dubbed Sir Nigel
By Lucy Bannerman - The Times
“My mummy says you don’t like foreigners,” the girl told Nigel Farage

Nigel Farage finally got the knighthood he has been pretending that he doesn’t want — but the ceremony didn’t quite go as planned.

For starters, it took place not at Buckingham Palace, but in the studio of RT, the Kremlin-backed TV channel, while the monarch doing the honours was a little girl in a plastic crown and with a toy sword.

No sooner had “Sir Nigel” arisen than she crowned the moment in the way that only a child on live television can by saying: “My mummy says you don’t like foreigners.”

Her comment prompted awkward laughter from Mr Farage, who said: “That’s not quite right”, while Sam Delaney, the host, squirmed. “No, no, little girl, no, no no. You’re not supposed to say that. That’s very naughty.”

There were claims last night that the child was an actress, though these could not be verified.

The embarrassing moment came after the former Ukip leader hinted that he would like a knighthood and during a bitter row with Douglas Carswell, the party’s only MP.

Arise, Sir Bonkers! (01/01/12)

Yes, it's that time of year again - when the great British establishment hands out its honours and favours - to the 'great and good'.

Of course nowadays there's the odd school dinner lady - or occasional scout leader - thrown in to cover up what's really going on.

Me - I wouldn't cross the road to become a knight, dame, commander or member of the British Empire - courtesy of Her Madge.

But lots of people would - for reasons I don't fully understand - though I do wish I knew the difference between an MBE, OBE and a CBE.

I suppose I could find out if I was really that bothered - maybe it allows you to walk a gaggle of geese across Westminster Bridge - or something equally useful.

If I had my way I'd only offer an 'honour' to the kind of person who would turn one down - because that's the kind of person I truly admire.

So I had to laugh at the Labour party getting its knickers into a right old twist about - the honour conferred on Paul Ruddock - who was knighted in the New Year's honours list.

Sir Paul is apparently a merchant banker who made a mint out of various things - including the collapse of the Northern Rock Bank.

Now I don't approve of that - just as I don't approve of Sir Paul making big donations to the Conservative party.

But please - is this really serious?

Because Labour is the party that gave Sir Fred (the Shred) Goodwin his knighthood - after the personal intervention of Gordon Brown who went on of course to become Prime Minister - while Sir Fred went on to bring our biggest bank to its knees and helped wreck the UK economy.

So spare me the histrionics and mock outrage - not least because another big financial cheese was knighted this year - Sir Rod Aldridge - the former Capita chief which has made a fortune out of privatising public services.

But before Ron became Sir Ron - he donated £1million to Labour - without the party losing any sleep as far as I know anyway.

So it does make you laugh - even 'political', supposedly progressive people - my old chums from Unison Scotland - Matt Smith and Anne Middleton (regional secretary and deputy regional secretary respectively) - accepted some bauble or other - and OBE and MBE if I remember correctly.

A senior figure in the TGWU Scotland - Yvonne Strachan - did the same thing - before  the once mighty and proud transport union turned itself into Unite.

Even Joan Ruddock - no relation to Sir Paul Ruddock apparently - has got in on the act - with the former labour MP and leader of CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) becoming a Dame - would you believe?

Me, I'm just happy the way I am.

Thankfully I don't need a gong or a bauble from the monarch - to make my life complete - or turn me into an even more rounded human being.

But if I get a letter from the Queen next year inviting me to become Sir Mark Irvine - 'for services to the fight for equal pay' - you'll be the first to know.

Top Hats and Boiler Suits (August 25th 2009)

Another great story to appear in the press recently concerns William McIlvanney - one of Scotland's most celebrated and talented writers.

McIlvanney revealed that he turned down an OBE in the Queen’s honours list – and went on to compare the honour to "putting a top hat on a man in a boiler suit".

William McIlvanney explained that his decision was private - unlike that of artist and writer John Byrne - the inspiration behind the smash hit series Tutti Frutti - and all the madness involving The Majestics, Eddie Clockerty and Miss Toner.

But John Byrne was making a serious point - when he rejected an MBE for services to art and literature recently - to signify his "absolute disgust" at the Iraq war.

William McIlvanney told the Scotland on Sunday that had written to Downing Street to say he would not be accepting the OBE for "purely personal" reasons.

"It's something that I tried on in my mind, and I found it didn't fit," he explained. "The sleeves were too long, and it just wasn't part of me.”

“It felt like trying to put a top hat on a man in a boiler suit.”

"The idea of rejecting an honour isn't something I've done with any anger, or to demean other people. There are a lot of people who carry out unsung work. I'm only too happy for them to be recognised."

McIlvanney said: "There have been a lot of honours given for dubious reasons in the past, like providing your wife as the king's bed warmer. The system is riddled with ludicrous elements."

But not everyone takes such a noble stand - there are lots of trade unionists only too glad to accept such honours - as a quick Google search shows:

• Bernard McGill (MBE) – from the north east regional TUC
• Felicity Mendelson (MBE) – from Unison (north east)
• Anne Middleton (MBE) - former deputy regional secretary Unison (Scotland)
• Terri Miller (MBE) – from Unite (south east)
• Matt Smith (OBE) – current regional secretary Unison (Scotland)
• Yvonne Strachan (OBE) - former regional organiser TGWU (Scotland) – now Unite

And that’s the eternal battle within the trade union movement – how to challenge the establishment – while resisting the temptation to become part of the establishment.

Some people do it better than others - you pays your money and takes your choice.

Michael McGahey – a Scottish miner and former leader of the NUM – would never have crossed the road for an MBE or OBE.

So hats off to Mick McGahey, William McIlvanney and John Byrne - so long as it's not Top Hats, of course.