OPINION: Sir David: for celebrity rather than success

So, will it be arise Sir David? Will football’s most ­recognised advertising billboard be awarded the gong with which it seems Tony Blair is anxious to ­cement the legacy of his own footballing street cred?

If so, it will be an award for celebrity rather than success. Beckham as England captain has won nothing and has under-performed in major tournaments.

A knighthood might be considered of substantial PR value to Brand Beckham, although it would serve further to fuel the controversy around an honours system widely perceived to be flawed and potentially corrupt. The spotlight on ‘Sir David’ heading off to his Hollywood tax exile would be searching.

Arguably, the honours issue runs far deeper than the headline-catching briefing and counter-briefing on Sir and Lady Goldenballs.

Given the still-unresolved imbro­glio over cash for honours, there are individuals who would prefer either to wait ­until they are dispensed by others than the present government – or even to forego them altogether.

Across a broad spectrum – politics, business, ­media and the arts – a knighthood or peerage has generally been considered desirable for the image. PROs and lobbyists continue to mount discreet influence campaigns for clients desiring recognition.

In business, the title looks good on the notepaper and tends to impress the City. For media knights and lords, the honour is seen as a recognition of the influence they and their industry wield, although, perhaps more than in any other sphere, it reflects the party affiliations of the recipient’s organisation.

In politics a peerage can offer an active role in government, both to those the electorate has cast aside and to those who have never actually deigned to stand for election but who still crave a place either at the high table, be it Cabinet, or a position on a quango. Public cynicism at honours has grown. There is concern that honours and jobs for the boys (and girls) go hand in hand in a cosy cartel of mutual ­interest and influence.

All major political parties proclaim the desire to modernise. And yet all continue to support the dispensing of  patronage through sackfuls of gongs and titles better suited to some sort of Ruritanian fairytale than a modern parliamentary democracy. Who, other than devotees of pantomime, can take seriously anyone calling themselves Baron or Baroness in the 21st century? Companion or Member of the British Empire? It hasn’t existed for over half a century.

And just where are all those knights in oh-so-shining armour supposed to tether their chargers?
Wouldn’t scrapping the lot be a better and more democratic option than this bi-annual festival of handouts and headlines?

Ian Monk is founder of Ian Monk Associates and a for­mer senior executive at the Daily Mail and The Sun.

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