An additional honour: Order of British Excellence

It has been quite some time since I have written for this blog but I suppose better late than never. Here is my latest idea and how it came about….

I have always been quite surprised at how different experiences in life, that seem to be unconnected, are actually part of the whole piece. During my student days I lived for many months in Ghana and then in Trinidad. This seemed a rather odd combination at the time, but both were such enjoyable times and have given me life long friends.

However, when I was working within Conservative Campaign headquarters, these experiences meant that reaching out to Britain’s Black and Ethnic Minority was so opportune for me. My life story was naturally linked to the heritage of many in the BAME community and I now have life long friends within these communities too.

From these relationships and then getting to know many different ethnic minority groups I learnt that understandably the Empire was a sensitive subject. It has increasingly not made sense to me that the overwhelming majority of awards in the UK Honours System have Empire in their title. There are some high-profile examples of people who on this basis have turned down the offer of the honour, the most notable being Benjamin Zephaniah. If you are wanting to award someone for services to community and country, of what relevance are their views on the Empire. They are and should be irrelevant.

There are sensitivities, which I appreciate, around wholescale reform of the system but surely the introduction of a new honour, the Order of British Excellence could enable those who have conscience reasons for refusal, to accept an honour in recognition of their services. This would also provide a great reason to run a national competition to design and then to make the new award.

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