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Last Updated: Monday, 5 January, 2004, 12:44 GMT
New Year Honours: What do you think?
The Amber Spyglass author Philip Pullman
England rugby coach Clive Woodward, children's author Philip Pullman and football manager Martin O'Neill are among the names in the New Year Honours list.

The list follows several weeks of controversy over the honours, following leaks over the way they are decided, and the publication of names of people who had refused the honours.

Are the right people getting the awards? Send us your thoughts about the News Year Honours list.


This debate is now closed. Read your comments below.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received:

Those who contribute to society over and above the call of duty deserve to be recognised. Those who do only what they're paid to do do not deserve extra recognition. Honours help society to continue to function but the current system now appears to do more to divide society than unite it.
John M, LyneMeads, UK

Honours are nice when properly rewarded in a timely manner
G Alles, Abq, NM, USA
Honours are nice when properly rewarded in a timely manner. Honours are a bad thing when they are administered as they are now. I've seen an amazing amount of praise and glory given to those who truly did not deserve it as well as to those who should have been demoted.
G Alles, Abq, NM, USA

How about OBE's for all those junior doctors working 70 hrs a week (note that they get overtime pay at a 50% rate not 150% like the rest of the world)? And all those GPs doing home visits at 2am and then having a full days work the next day. How about the teacher who makes that extra bit of effort with a special kid? How about volunteers? In fact it should only be for UNPAID or UNFAIRLY low paid jobs e.g. doctors overtime.
Seema, Canada (ex-Brit)

I am totally against the current system of corrupt honours and awards for celebrity and knowing the right contacts - No, I would NOT accept a "gong" if I was offered one for my 34 years' of continuous service to sport...unpaid.
Anon, Northern England

Scrap them altogether, I say. There's no point in replacing them as the best honour a person can get is the knowledge they have done a good job. Faint flattery from other people is not necessary.
Alister, London, GB

Honours system does little to encourage people as the system is too elitist
Dr. R. K. Jain, South London, UK
Honours system does little to encourage people as the system is too elitist. It reflects that the British are still living in the past and still dreaming of the lost empire. Better system will be to recognise individual achievements at all levels and more frequently as it is done in the USA. How many managers have the courtesy to go the workers and say well done and share these words by having a beer with their workers. Recognition should start from early and one should not have to wait for retirement for his or her work to be appreciated.
Dr. R. K. Jain, South London, UK

I personally know Mrs. Mary Thomany, who is in the overseas list, who received an MBE for her services to the British community in Germany and I am fully in agreement with the decision. I know her through the local Anglican church, where many British expats go.
Graeme Phillips, Berlin, Germany (normally UK)

Personally, I have never been able to understand why awards are given to people for simply doing their job, and in many cases being paid handsomely for doing it. When you get down to basics, we ALL do our jobs, and in most cases very well. Every single community in the country has its unsung heroes in the voluntary sector, and since volunteers are rapidly becoming something of an extinct breed, again in every community, surely their efforts are more deserving of recognition, especially since many of them also have a 'day job.'
Joan Whyte, Mintlaw, Aberdeenshire

It belongs back in the Victorian era
Derek Rothwell, Birkenhead, Merseyside
This continuing honours system should be scrapped. It belongs back in the Victorian era when snobbery and the old school tie were more prevalent. A lot of these "Sirs" are given the honours simply for doing a job of work for which they are already paid well. Ordinary folks are given honours as "tokens" so the government can justify keeping the system going, so that the pals of "Tone" keep supporting his government.
Derek Rothwell, Birkenhead, Merseyside

The honours system is outdated and anachronistic, but why not commend those who have achieved something nevertheless?
Kobs Wentworth, Bristol, UK

What I want to know is why, when a man is knighted, is his wife allowed to call herself Lady Whatever? I've come across one or two women who have picked up this title for doing absolutely nothing but being arm candy or having a strenuous day shopping and they behave as though they'd actually earned it. Gongs by proxy - weird.
Jan, West Sussex, UK

The public should vote on a TV show for those to be honoured
Eddie Shaw-Smith, Croydon, UK
The answer is staring us in the face. The public should vote on a TV show for those to be honoured. Non-celebrities could state their case with short video clips throughout the year.
Eddie Shaw-Smith, Croydon, UK

It is a disgrace that Brian May hasn't got a knighthood. The best guitarist that the UK has ever produced and his 'Red Special' guitar was made out of an old fireplace surround and took him 3-4 years to build. Please let Brian May become Sir Brian soon!
Helen and Matt, UK

All working people of the UK deserve an OBE for putting up with the tax increases this Government has made us all pay.
Gordon, Lincoln England

I believe we have got it right by honouring the entire squad and coaching staff in the same list
Sarah Walker, UK
I'd like to point out in defence of the Honours given to the England rugby team, that there would have been an equal, if not greater furore had they NOT been awarded, or worse, been awarded in dribs and drabs according to popularity, as with the 1966 World Cup winning team. In their case it took nearly 30 years for them all to be recognised, and this time I believe we have got it right by honouring the entire squad and coaching staff in the same list. If bestowing honours on champions encourages young children to take up these sports, then it is something that we as a nation should be pleased about. After all, we happy enough to celebrate when they wonż
Sarah Walker, UK

I don't really see the point in the recent honours it's more or less getting handed to anyone and everyone. Things like that should be given to people who really deserve it and not to some guy who is only now known for scoring a try at rugby world cup
Sharon May, North Lanarkshire

To: Peter Brown, Reading, UK.
Sorry Peter, but you are very clearly wrong: it's NOT "harmless fun". The whole concept of these awards is to set examples of how, and give recognition to, those individuals who have made outstanding contributions to society that is "beyond the call of duty" - analogous to receiving a medal in times of war. Therefore, I can see no justification for sports people and TV presenters being so inappropriately rewarded. This just sets a very bad example.
Alan Hall, Evesham, Worcs.

The awful truth about the current system is that those receiving awards are very much at the mercy of a 'system' that decides who, when, and what if any award might be bestowed. Joe Public might, just might be considered if, and only if, there is someone in his food-chain who knows where to start the process and is minded that the process is worth starting with in the first place. The great and the good (who perhaps least need this form of recognition anyway) have many people around them to submit their nomination - Joe 'Very Deserving' Public mostly doesn't. That's why the system has become a farce.
Roger Antolik, Warminster, UK

It seems our priorities are all wrong
Jim Mason, Helensburgh, Scotland
After the awards to the England rugby squad what about our servicemen and women who were and are the winning "team" in Iraq? I bet none of them will get an honour. Probably, if they are lucky, just a quick mention in the House of Commons. It seems our priorities are all wrong in this country.
Jim Mason, Helensburgh, Scotland

Can anyone tell me why Midge Ure has never been considered for a "gong"? He's done, and continues to do, many fund raising concerts, and has certainly contributed more to the British/world music scene than many present day knights! Could it be his Scottish accent, that the powers that be don't like perhaps? With the 20th Anniversary of Band/Live Aid approaching, and with Sir Bob already having his nice piece of jewellery, isn't it time to give him the recognition and gong he so richly deserves?
Stephen & Silke, Sonthofen/Germany.

It seems we have become very adept at critiquing, these honours lists, yet I wonder how many of those critics would jump at the honour if it was offered. The truth is that in today's sudden publicity blare, people nominated are bound to reflect the news headlines. While there are the high profile honours, there are still those who have worked for years who are honoured. The criticism from press and others, seems to belittle the honour of these awards. So to those critics I suggest you keep quiet and allow people to accept their awards with dignity, instead of trying to smear the ceremony.
Ian Peter, Southport, England

Civil servants deserve a gong for keeping this country a great place to be!
Tom, Burnley, UK
There is a lot of ignorance and envy coming through here. Do those moaning about honours for top civil servants have the slightest idea how hard they work? They don't do their 8 hours and then go home and watch the telly! It is their dedication that makes this country work, in spite of the efforts of an indolent and ignorant population and corrupt, self-serving politicians. Civil servants deserve a gong for keeping this country a great place to be!
Tom, Burnley, UK

One wonders what the government's agenda is in all this. The system has worked fine for years, but lately honours have been handed out like sweeties for services to irrelevances, and the whole thing has become very much cheapened.
Rev J.W. Hughes, Bruton, UK

I'd just like to say congratulations to Sara Brigg of Castlefields Infant School for getting an MBE.
Elizabeth Stanton, Brighouse, West Yorkshire

If your job is making a real difference for your country, then why on earth should you not get an honour?
Helen, London, UK
To everyone who has nothing better to say than "Why don't ordinary people get awards" . . . why don't you stop moaning and nominate someone? Public nominations are considered, and perhaps there would be more "ordinary" people nominated, if people stopped whining and did this. Also, can I point out if your job is making a real difference for your country, then why on earth should you not get an honour too, even if you are paid? If people work above and beyond their expected duties to help the county or other people, they deserve the recognition. Civil servants do not deserve so much criticism.
Helen, London, UK

It's fairly pathetic and immature people who need to be "rewarded" for doing what they should be doing anyway. Scrap the lot.
Mike H, UK

I left the UK 25 years ago at which time there was still some British character left that had not yet been tainted by the American "instant pop culture". Sadly, the New Year Honours list is yet another example of the "Americanisation" of the UK. That is, an example of a brainwashed society wrapped up in the adulation of insignificant, flavour of the month celebrities. How can one compare a pop singer or actor or sports celebrity to someone who discovered some incredible medical breakthrough or spent their life serving the less fortunate in some disease ridden country?
Mike, USA

Never mind the footballers; Tim Berners-Lee definitely deserves this honour, not simply for creating the technology of the web, but for declining to patent it and then freely licensing it to the world. If he hadn't done that, he'd probably be much richer, but we'd all be the poorer for it. His continuing involvement in keeping new web technology based on open standards (as opposed to Microsoft-only tech) adds to his (no better word for it) nobility.
Scott Speaks, Aberdeen, Scotland

The whole system has been devalued (if it ever had any value) by giving knighthoods to pop stars and peerages to actors, composers and big political donors. How do you reward someone who has made a genuine difference to the life of the nation when any old ham can get a K?
Dec, London, England

Just switch the word "Empire" to "Establishment" and problem solved. Tony Blair can make all his cronies "Members of the British Establishment". Heck, they could even replace the remaining members of the House of Lords.
Ted, Farnborough, England

No disrespect to the England rugby team...it is great what they achieved, but giving the whole team an honour smacks of New Labour populism to me.
Robert Parker, London, UK

Those who spend a lifetime dedicated to helping others should be awarded
Andy, Lancaster, UK
Honours should be awarded only to people who do something extraordinary and for an achievement above that which they are required to do as their daily work or social norms. Those who spend a lifetime dedicated to helping others should be awarded; whereas those who happen to win a sporting game, produce recorded music or be born into high society should not be awarded.
Andy, Lancaster, UK

The list is an absolute joke! People being awards and knighthoods for doing nothing more than doing a job that most of us would swap our own for in a second.
Jim Brooks, York, England

I don't remember the great Welsh players of the 70's and 80's being honoured? This is just another example of English imperialism, when a Scot, Irish, or Welshman does well it's Great Britain has done well, but when an Englishman does well it's a triumph for England.
George Blackmore, Wales

I am pleased to see that Tony Hand as got am OBE for services to ice hockey it is about time the sport got some recognition
Jackie Davidson, Sittingbourne, Kent

Nigel Benn, who has raised a great deal of money for brain and spinal research, gets an MBE. Jonny Wilkinson, who kicked a ball a few times, gets an OBE. Am I the only one who thinks that, with examples like this, there is huge inequality in the honours system?
Chris, Surrey, UK

In reply to Chris in Surrey - Jonny already has an MBE for services to Rugby so obviously could not be given another. What a lot of people on this page fail to realise is the guys in Rugby (no matter which nation they are) give a lot of their time up for the 'grass roots' teams and the minis and midis (the kids rugby), without seeking publicity or payment - unlike football players. I think the honours were justified, especially the ones going to the back room staff - coaches, physios, etc - the people who are the backbone of the game
Pauline Yates, UK

Aren't there better ways of spending public cash than by perpetuating an anachronistic and increasingly meaningless practice?
Adam Marshall, UK/US
Aren't there better ways of spending public cash than by perpetuating an anachronistic and increasingly meaningless practice? Those who most deserved to be honoured are either forgotten or buried at the bottom of the pile, beneath the rugby stars, the politically-connected and the civil servants who get gongs just for doing their jobs.
Adam Marshall, UK/USA

OK, I don't get it. Eric Clapton only gets a CBE? Arguably the most influential British musician of the last 40 years, second only to Paul McCartney and he doesn't rate a Knighthood? And yet Mick Jagger does? Another fine example of the bias, stupidity and lack of awareness of the people who choose to give these gongs out.
Louis Berk, London

I love to see the Honours List each year.
Yes there are always going to those who get awards because of their job or career e.g. sportsmen and leaders of Industry. But more importantly are those ordinary people who get awards for charity work and campaigning to improve our world. To these people a big thank you and congratulations.
Gillian Pope,

I say congratulations to Sir Clive and the boys
Keith Feetham, London
What a miserable, be-grudging bunch of commentators; lighten up! Not all writers, rugby players and the like get awards, usually it's the best or most popular.
It's true that political patronage and money attract awards, but so what? Governments need all the tools they can get to manage events, why not use honours? In any case, this is balanced by plenty of popular honours being bestowed upon sporting heroes, actors etc. Honours should be elite. If we start handing them out to all and sundry then their currency is devalued. So I say congratulations to Sir Clive and the boys.
Keith Feetham, London, England

Is this a New Years Honours list or a Labour Party Contributions list? Lets give it to those people who really have shaped society over the past 30 years...Dave Vanian, Captain Sensible...oh and the man who threw an egg at John Prescott, he should be up for a peerage!
Paul, UK

After seeing this list I can now see the reason that people refusing honours is on the increase. The political football that is being kicked around by the government with this list shows that people who make a large contribution giving spare time to good causes are now taking second place to TV stars the rich and failed sports celebrities.
George Duffy, Glasgow Scotland

Fair play to everyone who got something. Moaners - shut up!
Joel, Nottingham
All this moaning about the Honours system being a sham is ridiculous. There are nearly a thousand names on the list including ordinary working people, we are only hearing about the rugby squad because they are in the public eye. Fair play to everyone who got something. Moaners - shut up!
Joel, Nottingham

The awards should be about recognising those who would otherwise go unnoticed - such as Tim Beners-Lee. We should be raising the profile of our innovators and world beaters/leaders rather than extending self serving back slappers.
Jonathan, Slough UK

What a waste of time and my Tax money. Why not get rid of this outdated rubbish.
Stuart, West London

I think the honours should reflect life time achievement, not a one off win in a sporting event.
Debbie Hinde, Cheam, England

Celebrity and Sports stars have honours enough by the publicity they receive. Hardworking and voluntary staff who are not usually in the public glaze deserve the real honour!
Tim, Harrogate, UK

As it's just harmless nonsense, why worry about it?
Peter Brown, Reading, UK

What have the "English" rugby team done to deserve a "British" award? The team certainly played well and deserved to win the World Cup but they were representing "England" and not Great Britain. It is an insult to the other "British" teams that were there.
James Rivers, Oakville, Canada

Henman. Why?????
Dick, UK

Glad to see people are objecting to sportsmen who have reached the pinnacle of their sports receiving honours for doing so. But I ask, when did anybody object to Alex Ferguson getting a knighthood, or Tim Henman, or for that matter any sportsman. Well done to the England team, fully deserved for adding a huge amount to the sport of rugby.
Martin, UK

The number of civil servants knighted or honoured should be drastically reduced
Paul Smith, Bedford, UK
Most countries have some form of recognition system similar to our honours system. Personally I disagree with the majority of comments on here - yes sports players are paid to do a job, but it's a job that causes a huge amount of happiness when they have success. Surely Doctors are also paid for their job? There's no question however that the number of civil servants knighted or honoured should be drastically reduced. I think our honours system should be improved but it's a great institution led from a proud past. Perhaps we should remove the "Empire" title however!
Paul Smith, Bedford, UK

After reading the full list (sad person that I am), I note that one of the Queens 'Stalkers' from Balmoral Castle, and a 'Woodman' from the Sandringham Estate have been given some kind of award. What's that all about???????
Baz, UK

Why some people get an OBE for 5 years worth of work, whilst others, like Nicholas Parsons have to wait over 50 years is the biggest problem I have with the Honours List.
Ben Levy, London, England

If we all remembered that a lord or knight or OBE is just an award and we judged people on everything else that we knew about them then there wouldn't be a problem. Unfortunately, the fact that the deferential people among us insist on seeing something more in these baubles means that the awards will bestow unfair advantages in some circumstances.
Steve M, Lympstone, UK

I'm tired of hearing about people being given an award for their "lifetime achievement to sport" - I never hear of anyone getting an award for their "lifetime achievement to street cleaning". The honours list means nothing anymore.
A. Greenwood, South Yorks, UK

How sad that such prestigious awards remain solely for the rich and famous
John Lodge, Poole, Dorset
How sad that such prestigious awards remain solely for the rich and famous. My wife has dedicated her life to the NHS. Working extra unpaid hours so that those who have no one else may live with some dignity. Her reward is their thanks and to her that is enough. Yet those who, and lets not sit on the fence, make money from the public get the recognition. It is now time to review the complete out dated system.
John Lodge, Poole Dorset

Looking at some of the previous comments - I am led to sadly conclude..."Typical Brits!" What is this British fixation (some would say "green-eye" sickness) with consistently knocking people who are recognised for being successful or achieving something above and beyond the norm??? For goodness sake stop moaning!! Now I remember why I left England...
Shane Carlson, Dubai, UAE

The honours being thrown at Jonny Wilkinson are so way over the top it's not funny. Let's keep it in perspective - he is the goal kicker of a team that won a competition where there were only a handful of decent teams competing. Big deal.
Ian Kelly, Warrington, England

The reward of honours to the England Rugby team is fantastic. They have shown that England is the greatest at rugby in the world, surely that is something to celebrate and reward?
Sam, Kent, UK

I think it's brilliant that Philip Pullman got one, and I disagree with the people that say knighthoods shouldn't be given out for people just doing their jobs.
Jen, UK

Scrub the empire bit and come up with something modern
Andy Millward, UK
If we want a meritocratic awards system to bypass cynical and elitist nonsense, there is a simple recipe: Scrub the empire bit and come up with something modern and democratic to award people for exceptional service and heroism, not subject to political manipulation or automatic award based on job roles.
Andy Millward, UK

Tim Henman gets one -hooray! Now we all have a chance.
Mike, East Anglia

The negativity here is astounding. If your day to day job or hobbies involves you raising millions for charity, creating the WWW or winning a world cup, then you also deserve recognition. To say no-one should be awarded if they are 'just doing their job' is absurd.
James, London

Would the Welsh, Scottish or Irish rugby squads been honoured in the same manner if they had won the Rugby World cup?
Emyr Wyn Davies, UK

In this day and age its an anachronism as far too many awards go to people for being nothing more than rich and famous i.e. Sir Cliff Richard, Lord Webber, Sir Elton John what on earth is that all about?
Bob, Nottingham UK

The awarding of New Year's honours to all of the England Rugby Union squad is nothing short of appalling. I applaud their achievements, yet what they have done is what they were all paid to do, be sportsmen and try and win the world cup. I am sure that by awarding the honours to the Rugby World Cup squad, Tony Blair has tried to give Britain a "feel good" factor, well I don't agree.
Andy Davies, Harrogate, England

Nobody should receive awards for doing what they are paid to do
Ken, Surrey
Nobody should receive awards for doing what they are paid to do. It is high time that the honours system was completely abolished and a new award brought into being solely for people who provide an unpaid service to the community.
Ken, Surrey

I think that the New Year Honours should be balanced by a set of New Year Dishonours - Lets have some negative awards for people who have caused and gotten away with major grief to innocent members of the public. Certain business leaders, and company directors and newspaper owners spring to mind immediately.
Andrew M, Walsall, UK

I think the Honours system is Imperialist drivel for third rate celebrities and for political correctness amongst the ruling class.
Richard Lloyd,

Can I have an OBE for doing my job?
Honours should only be bestowed on those truly deserving people. Those who work tirelessly on behalf of others, NOT for those doing their job or political friends of the Government!
Bob Knox, Alnwick, England

The whole honours system is a sham. Why should celebrities and sportspeople get honours for something they get paid to do? It's their jobs to do what they do (kicking a ball over a pole etc.), and for the "ordinary people" who get their honours, they probably don't really care whether they get one or not, again it's their job, they do their job because they like doing it. The whole honours system should be scrapped.
J R Malcolmson, Leicestershire, UK

What has happened to the people who do real work in the community?
Michael Brice, Derby, UK
To my mind it is sad to see a sports team being honoured by this system of patronage. I am a rugby fan but believe strongly that this award is totally inappropriate. What has happened to the people who do real work in the community? Sports personalities have succeeded and are rewarded in many public ways and TV awards so this award 'debases the currency' and suggests an amazing degree of national insecurity.
Michael Brice, Derby, UK

It is absolutely marvellous to finally see Tim Beners-Lee given recognition for his invention which has given fun and enjoyment as well as employment to so many. It's great to see a "Geek" (like me) get recognised.
Simon Burrows, Wisbech St Mary, England

Sporting personalities should receive something like the Queen's Award for Achievement, NOT OBE's etc. A Knighthood should be preserved for those who show gallantry and have proven that their deeds benefit the British people as a whole (e.g. defence of the realm, life-saving of victims in danger, or a friend of mine for seeing me through a severe illness). Sport, these days, seems to be a surrogate for the political failings of the Governments since 1979. As they did in ancient Rome, bread and entertainment for the people disguises the flaws and failings of Central Government.
Alex Keel, London, UK

No issues with the rugby players. But what about Sir Brian Clough. Still no tap on the shoulder, and to think he is a Labour supporter!
John Harrison, Nottingham

I think it's about time the whole honours list should be scrapped
Phil Bartlett, Cardiff, Wales
It has just been proved to me what a complete and total sham the honours list is - there is no way these honours have been decided months in advance because of the inclusion of the England Rugby Team for their Rugby World Cup win that was achieved only back in November! I believe there are more deserving in the UK who would benefit from such an honour - like Doctors, Nurses and the like - these people work tirelessly to help others less fortunate than themselves - i.e. people who find themselves in hospital through ill health etc... I think it's about time the whole honours list should be scrapped.
Phil Bartlett, Cardiff, Wales

It's lovely Ray Davies got the CBE, as he is often overlooked -- but if they were going to give the award to the FOUNDER of the Kinks, that's his brother, Dave...
Dolores, London

A typical list I would say. High profile so-called 'stars' receive awards they do not deserve whilst the genuine recipients continue in the background un-rewarded. It is about time we had a list without a single pop or sports star.
Ashley, Lingfield, Surrey

I believe the whole thing is outdated but I suppose it's one avenue to recognise and publicise the hard work put in by volunteers, charity workers and some, like Tim Berners-Lee, who have a real impact on society. I don't, however, accept that rugby and football players should be 'awarded' for doing something that the both want to do AND get paid (very well) for.
Steve, Edinburgh

The formula for handing out honours seems to be. 1) A good handful of civil servants for services to shuffling paper around desks. 2) A few showbiz and sport people for services to being already well known and wealthy, including a few to appeal to the 'yoof' and readers of the tabloids. 3) Finally, a few nobodies, just to try to show that it's not just the above who get honours.
All in all, a total waste of time.
Peter,

Greater transparency can only help to encourage public support for the list. A simple document published in newspapers and online, detailing the reason for the award as well as the recipient would work wonders. It's not rocket science.
In truth, I don't think the media help the case for the honours list. We are told this year that the list reflects a far greater attention to those 'working at the sharp edge' of public services, but they don't seem to get a mention anywhere.
James Whistler, Cirencester, UK




NEW YEAR HONOURS 2004

TOP STORIES

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HONOURS IN FULL
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HAVE YOUR SAY

BACKGROUND


SEE ALSO:
Honours 'elite' raises concerns
24 Nov 03  |  Politics
What do you want, a medal?
22 Dec 03  |  Magazine
Leak reveals honours snubs
21 Dec 03  |  UK
Q&A: The Honours system
22 Dec 03  |  Politics



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