MBEs …And Stuff

Isn’t it funny how you discuss a subject frivilously and end up having a row. Mrs FJH and I only row twice a year…at the “Queens” Birthday Honours and “New Year Honours”.

Basically I have told Mrs FJH that she can never accept a MBE, OBE or whatever. If she did, I would never be able to hold my head up among my socialist, republican and nationalist friends. Mrs FJH takes the view that if she is offered  “an honour”, she will grab it with both hands.

I have told Mrs FJH that I will not go to Buckingham Palace  with her…Mrs FJH says that I will do what I am told. As far as I can make out, getting  “an honour” involves wearing a hat…and Mrs FJH likes wearing a hat.

When you work in the public sector …as I did for 32 years, there is the twice-yearly problem that someone you work with might get a bauble. This is a bit awkward. It seems like good manners to say “congratulations” but it also seems principled to say nothing or say it thru gritted teeth.

In my experience two kinda people get “honours”….your boss (in which case you might get a chocolate eclair) or a junior filing clerk with forty years experience (in which case you will get nothing).

But lets be honest ….for every midwife who has driven thru snow drifts in the Scottish Highlands for forty odd years who is thrilled to get a MBE, there is a former politician who gets a peerage. And for every elderly man who gets a OBE for running a charity shop in Southampton, there is a billionaire banker in the City of London who is getting a knighthood.

The Brits need the human interest stories to justify the corruption.

But how exactly is it done? Well, there is a section of the Cabinet Office who filter the suggestions made by the Health Authority in the Scottish Highlands or the Charities or the Political Parties or the Sports Organisations.

Thus there are celebs who loiter with intent of a knighthood…and there always seems to be a headline grabber every year….Maggie Smith, Helen Mirren, Judi Dench….all Dames of the Realm. Bruce Forysth, Cliff Richard, Elton John, Mick Jagger ….all knights of the Real ….Somehow Jimmy Savile got thru.

For Barbara Windsor the wait is over. David Beckham is being held back for a while.

As it happens, I know more about this kinda thing than most republicans but I have signed the Official Secrets Act and I cant actually tell you.

So basically…in mid November a letter from the Cabinet Office drops thru your letter box. “Would you like a MBE?….RSVP…..Dont Tell Anyone!”

i reckon that having seen “Honours Lists” for over forty years, I have known someone on the list…(say) once  every four years. Catholic. Protestant. ….and I have known at least four people (non-politicians) who have said “no thanks” or “shove it up your arse”. The thing that unites the recipients is not so much Politics or even Nationality….it is just that they like that kinda thing. People who like to order headed notepaper with “MBE”. Surely we all know someone like that “Fur Coat…No Knickers”.

But really it is the political parties who submit one or two names to be honoured.In the House of “Lords” we have among others, “Lord Morrow” and “Lady Paisley” (DUP) and “Lord Rogan” and “Lord   Kilclooney” (John Taylors fanciful title) (UUP). “Lord All-Too-Nice” (Alliance now Liberal Democrat) and “Lord Trimble” (UUP now Conservative). I assume most or all of them were nominated by their Parties.

While SDLP sends elected representatives as MPs to Westminster, there has never been a SDLP “Lord” or “Lady”. While the daily attendance fee and the expenses are potentially a nice little earner, SDLP rightly regard an unelected Assembly as a farce and an insult to Democrats. It is undoubtedly true that John Hume and Seamus Mallon were sounded out by the British Govvernment to take a peerage…and probably Eddie McGrady and Joe Hendron….but SDLP are at heart believers in Democracy. My readers may mention Gerry Fitt…but….you are  wrong.

Only a handful of SDLP councillors have been offered and accepted MBEs and OBEs. Mostly not for direct political activity. It has not always endeared recipients to party members and one or two have indicated that colleagues have marginalised them. One former SDLP member has his headstone engraving “XXXX XXXXX MBE”.which is a  variation on getting your name on headed notepaper  but it seems like a rebuke to the SDLP colleagues who thought he was wrong to accept it.

This year Sinn Féin are enjoying the fact that Pat McCarthy, former SDLP Mayor of Belfast has accepted an honour. McCarthy was interned in 1971 and is a committed socialist. In fact he is responsible for the City Hall window which commemorates the Belfast men who fought for the International Brigade against Franco in the Spanish Civil War.

Leaving aside the specifically Irish dimension I can never understand why English republicans and socialists accept these gongs….take “Sir” Patrick Stewart of Star Trek.

But I digress…Pat McCarthy MBE. Not a serving SDLP councillor , he lost his seat in 2014 Super Council Elections.

The reaction is interesting. Sinn Féin mock….SDLP reaction is muted. Yes I have seen a defence that Pat Mac has honourably served the people of Belfast but more significantly an SDLP spokesman has said that Pat McCarthy has a right to accept it….but I have not seen any official congratulatory statement on SDLP website. The Party seems to be distancing itself.

But….there does seem something odd about Danny Morrison of Sinn Féin making so much of it.

I mean….just how many people did SDLP nominate to get a MBE?  And how many people did Sinn Féin nominate to get a Royal Pardon?

A sense of proportion would make sense.



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24 Responses to MBEs …And Stuff

  1. Political Tourist says:

    Lord Fitt the Brit.

  2. kevinbarryhughes says:

    ‘My readers may mention Gerry Fitt…but….you are wrong.’

    Sorry, you mean LORD Fitt, founding member of the SDLP, right?

    I’m sure you guys didn’t nominate him but he’s gene pool SDLP much like the berk who took an MBE a day or two ago.

    Very funny John, you’re now SDLP through and through which is a pity.

    As for the Danny Morrison, you can of course show us these letters of pardon? I’m looking forward to your response.

    • My point is that I believe that no member of SDLP was ever nominated by the Party for a bauble. iNdividuals including Fitt were sounded out and He was not a member of the Party.
      Gerry Fitt ..certainly made a journey and I dont like the journey he made. But Gerry Fitt of 1964 was a very different politician in 1979.
      Hard to believe that I first saw him in Cullingtree Road in 1967, on the back of a coal lorry.
      By the time he was a “Lord”, he was well away from SDLP. I could speculate on two reasons he enjoyed Westminstrr. Neither reason is political and neither is flattering to him.
      Over the past week, I have written articles not overly helpful to SDLP…Seamus Mallon and the senior figures Executive ministers and advisors were a disaster after 1998 and I have been critical of the way staffers have effectively taken over the running of SDLP from membership.
      I have said that I will only be active in SDLP Election campaign if I asked to do so which is surely an indication that I need to see them supportive of me for a change. And I have also said that Colum Eastwood needs to keep an eye on some of his “supporters” more than his “enemies”.
      And this week I have published an article that SDLP doesnt know its own History.
      No…I dont think that criticism of me stands up.
      Indeed more nuance will follow. There is already a post “in my head” and I will refine it over the weekend.
      As to Royal Pardons….well yes. We are told and Sinn Féin doesnt deny it that a senior figure made representations to Brits to get these “letters” to around 100 “on the runs” or whatever.
      so….I dont think SF can say too much about a single MBE.
      I only follow about 100 people on Twitter and I have not seen a single “well done Pat” from SDLP.
      If he had actually been nominated by SDLP, I suspect SDLP would have had a congratulations already primed on its website to be published when it was announced.
      So I get the distinct impression that SDLP were taken off-guard.

      • kevinbarryhughes says:

        Sorry John, but that’s weak.

        ‘My point is that I believe that no member of SDLP was ever nominated by the Party for a bauble.’

        I’ve not said otherwise, but that’s not the point and you know that. There’s a perfectly valid reason why SDLP members have been referred to as Stoops and it’s that sneaking suspicion among a large number of nationalists that you sell them out. Fitt, a founding member of the SDLP, is a manifestation of this. It only takes a few sugar cubes for some ‘decent’ folks.

        You think you’re going tough on the SDLP? I think you’ve told it straight at them which, btw, is you doing them a favour and not undermining them. The likes of Mallon has hurt the SDLP with his withering and sniping of a man who’s not fit to respond, it’s truly pathetic.

        And as for the letters, I asked you to show me how they’re Royal pardons as opposed to an administrative letter confirming they’re currently not under investigation and no evidence exists at present to the contrary. I know it doesn’t make pretty for a blog to go with ‘admin letter’ but saying royal pardon enough really doesn’t make it so.

        Your party members accept honours from the establishment they’re supposed to want to take down. The other lot get admin letters in return for going into government, it’s a big difference.

      • Its the best I can do Kev 🙂

      • kevinbarryhughes says:

        In fairness to you John, you’re committed in many ways your party colleagues just aren’t.

      • Thanks. I appreciate that.
        There is a type that uses all political parties as a vehicle for ambition or an agenda.

  3. Fair points, FJH. That said, I was surprised by McCarthy accepting the gong. Bad taste in the mouth. However I don’t go along with the whole “Stoops” accusations against the SDLP in general. That’s just politics. In any case one remembers all those former Fenian radicals becoming conservative MPs and Sirs in the 1800s. It was so common as to be stereotype.

    • Yes….not least in Canada in late 1800s. And I always think that John Mitchel should not be honoured as he is in Newry. Of course we cant put our 2015 morality on previous centuries.
      I was also surprised at Pat Mac. and irritated a little at the symbolism. Do you get the same kimpression that I got…the SDLP being as surprised as we are.
      Again I would speculate why he accepted one. I cant think he was nominated by the Party which indicates that someone in Norn Iron Office might have assumed he would have done so.
      And that leads to speculation as to why he would accept it. It has caused (relative) embarrassment and hard to think that Pat would be surprised.
      Beyond that I wont speculate but there may be dots worth joining.

      • Don’t believe that the SDLP were caught off guard, MacCarthy asked them if they had any objections and they said no – they were well aware.

      • SDLP did not nominate him and have never nominated anyone for an honour.
        Presimably Pat was approached by a nominating body such as NIO and asked if he would take it.
        A look thru lists of Mayors of Belfast will show that in the old days, a knighthood was almost automatic.
        Clearly this is not the case now. Belfast is more egalitarian.
        The only SDLP statement I have seen is that it was a personal decision.
        And while I have sen tweets attacking sf for attacking Pat, I have not actually seen any that are whole-heartedly supporting him (I add the caveat that I “only” follow 100 plus on Twitter.
        Nor have I seen any congratulations in a statement from SDLP.

  4. Political Tourist says:

    Gerry Fitt on the back of a coal lorry!!!
    Was that the same coal lorry that the Celtic players were paraded round Celtic Park on with the European Cup?

    • It was a very local coal merchant …I recall vividly that people on the back of the lorry seem to had consumed some alcohol….there seemed general concern that people might fall off.

  5. Political Tourist says:

    What are the two possible reasons Gerry Fitt liked Westminster for?

  6. zig70 says:

    It’s the Irish disease, we are good at digging as long as someone tells us where to dig. Actually the Queen is one of the things my wife and I agree on, both of us would like a letter from the Queen so that we can ask her if she knows our dad’s, as they were someone too. My missus often has a good rant at RTE when you get the luuvies fawning over some Irish aristocrat that was left with their mansion after independence. They should have all been bucked out to 1 acre plots. It’s not necessarily an Irish thing, I saw plenty of fawning and emulation in Korea to the Japanese and they were worse than the British. At least the Koreans took their language back, better than us on that respect. When my mum was alive she would tell me to swallow my pride for the sake of keeping the peace when internal family conflict arose. That’s very much a common attitude, however she’s gone and I’m off the lease a bit. Pat has got it wrong. Hopefully the SDLP have the gumption to say so.
    https://republic.org.uk/ I like some of the quips on here #bornequal. Not sure if I should sign up, kinda think it isn’t my fight.

    • There is an Italian series of short stories (it might be called Don Camillo….my mind has gone a blank)..about a priest and the communist mayor and the mayors wife…a devout Catholic.
      We all have an auntie who embarrassingly love royal babies etc.
      A couple of years ago my grandson broke the SKY dish the day before the “Royal Wedding” and it wasnt fixed until after wedding….I have never been as happy 🙂

  7. Political Tourist says:

    So you think Fitt the Brit was a gambler, booze bag or a womaniser or all three?

  8. Cork sf supporter says:

    An SDLP MLA took a CBE I am told.

    • Have you actually ever had an original thought in your own head…..or are you simpljy programmed on a daily basis by Sinn Féin?
      I could guide you further….but youd obviously want to conduct your own research.
      But…..when you know the following you can come back and apologise.
      1 the name oof the person.
      2 the Stormont Assembly or Forum to which this person was elected.
      3 the duration of the Assembly.
      4 the year in which the person was awardded the honour.
      5 the title
      6 the reason the person received it.
      7 what happened afterwards.

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