JANET STREET PORTER: Getting a gong just for doing your job? This system stinks!

Getting a gong just for doing your job This system stinks!



21:07 GMT, 17 June 2012

Satirist Armando Iannucci accepted an OBE for 'services to broadcasting'

Satirist Armando Iannucci accepted an OBE for 'services to broadcasting'

History has been made — Alastair Campbell and I finally agree about something. The Spinmeister has a book to promote, so his timing could be suspect, but three cheers for his dismissal of satirist Armando Iannucci who accepted an OBE for ‘services to broadcasting’.

How could someone who has made a fortune out of blistering comedies like The Thick Of It, which ruthlessly mocks the establishment and the petty machinations of politicians, crave anything as meaningless as a gong Especially one named after the British Empire.

I hope and pray that the much-loved stars of Have I Got News For You, Ian Hislop and Paul Merton, never follow suit. From now on, Ianucci has lost his bite, he’s crossed the line. He admits that when he decided to accept the honour, it caused problems on the new series of The Thick Of It, which will be broadcast this autumn

One of the writers suggested that evil spindoctor Malcolm Tucker receive a CBE, but Ianucci steered them away from the storyline. He says it will make no difference to his work — but it already has.

You have my word there will never be a Dame Janet SP. Or even JSP OBE. I surely qualify, slogging away for 40 years in broadcasting. Been leader of the Ramblers, won telly awards, I’ve edited a serious national newspaper plus I’m a chirpy pensioner — how many boxes does that tick

Our Honours system, as Campbell says, is no longer fit for purpose. Never mind Mary Portas and her controversial rejuvenation plans for Margate, I will gladly chair a committee that rethinks this shameful system, for nothing — and I wouldn’t turn the process into a reality television series either.
Anyone who sells records, edits newspapers, flogs records and designs frocks would be barred from receiving a gong.

Alastair Campbell says the UK's Honours system is no longer fit for purpose

Alastair Campbell says the UK's Honours system is no longer fit for purpose

Wealthy people who give to charity, ditto — as a proportion of their vast wealth, they do no more than most of us who regularly give generously to cancer charities, SportsAid and Comic Relief. I’m more impressed with the unsung heroes who tirelessly galvanise their local communities, fund-raising for worthy causes in their precious spare time.

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Our politicians are criticised for their cosy relationship with newspaper owners, but no one bats an eyelid when they dish out gongs to their mates and party donors. Charles Dunstone, one of Dave and Sam Cam’s Cotswolds pals, is chairman of Carphone Warehouse and the much criticised TalkTalk communications group (many of you wrote to tell me about their lack of customer service recently), and is also chairman of The Prince’s Trust.

Mr Dunstone has amassed a fortune of 860 million and is one of the 100 wealthiest people in the UK. So why give him a knighthood Why do rich people, sundry Rolling Stones and former Cabinet ministers get gongs The sooner the House of Lords is elected and not made up of old pals and repaid favours, the better.

Gary Barlow is a very nice chap, but why give him a gong for organising a pop concert That’s what he does for a living. All the performers gladly agreed to appear at the Jubilee concert, because a global audience of two billion means they will subsequently sell even more records.

Why should Sarah Burton, of Alexander McQueen, who designed Kate Middleton’s royal wedding dress, receive an OBE Or the creative director of Mulberry a CBE It’s all meaningless. Why should a well-paid actress like Kate Winslet get a few letters after her name

Of course, we should reward those who go the extra mile, but anyone who is merely doing their job should be disqualified. In America there are no gongs — just the Forbes 400 — the list of the richest people. At least that’s honest. Our system stinks.

Rebekah Brooks at court last week

Rebekah Brooks at court last week

Heads will roll

Has ‘country supper’ pal of Dave Cameron Rebekah Brooks contaminated one of Britain’s most iconic brands

For her court appearance last week answering charges of perverting the course of justice, the former newspaper boss wore a distinctive 165 Alexander McQueen green silk scarf printed with skulls.

Perhaps it was an act of symbolism, and they signify the scalps of the politicians she will be claiming over the course of her trial in the autumn.

Oh Cheryl, pet, do pipe down

The philosophy of Cheryl Cole stretches all the way from A to B, with no words of more than two syllables on the way. Could the Geordie singer (and I use that word loosely) be trying to launch a new ‘serious’ image along with her third album and upcoming tour

After her pronouncements on everything from the pasty tax to gay marriage in recent days, it’s only a matter of time before Cheryl will be gracing the panel of Question Time and chatting to Andrew Marr about the recession on his Sunday morning sofa.

It’s amazing that a pretty girl with an average voice, a conviction for assault, and a capacity to weep buckets on demand, can be treated as a major cultural force. After all, she’s not a composer, just an expert at wearing hair extensions. Here are some of Cheryl’s pearls of ‘wisdom’:

Cheryl pictured out walking in Paris

Cheryl pictured out walking in Paris

On her photo opportunity snuggling up to the Queen at the Jubilee concert: ‘I did not know I was on camera until I came off stage … they stood us in line and then they brought the Queen out. She wanted to stand next to me.’

On her limited vocal skills as demonstrated by her performance on The Voice: ‘I know I’m no Mariah Carey but I think the emotion in the song is what matters.’ ‘If you think my live vocal sounds so good it must be mimed, then I’m happy, I take it as a compliment.’

On George Osborne’s proposed tax on pasties: ‘It was ridiculous, I would have been penniless as a teenager — and hungry — if I’d been taxed every time I had a hot pasty.’

On her appeal as a gay icon — Cheryl claimed that her dog Buster prefers male company when she did an interview on Gaydar radio. She graced us with her garbled views on same sex marriage: ‘(It’s) far more than a man and a woman, you know. It’s a bond for life and whether you’re gay or straight or whatever, it makes no difference to being married.’ Phew! I think that means she’s in favour, or whatever. The truth is, Cheryl’s performance at the Jubilee was lamentable and an insult to all the talented female singers in the UK. Where was Beverley Knight or Adele Duffy or Paloma Faith The list is endless. Cheryl even had the cheek to ask fans to pay 350 to meet her on tour, ten times the price of a regular ticket. She claimed the ‘profits’ from the experience would go to her personal charity, the Cheryl Cole Foundation. Can someone explain why pop stars need to set up their own charities, when they could just donate money to the NSPCC or Kids Company which already do sterling work in this area We know the answer.

Like everything Cheryl Cole does, it’s all about her. Giant ego, tiny talent.

Back from the dead

Ian Rankin is one of my favourite writers, and every time I visit Edinburgh I try to work out where Rebus hangs out. Sadly, Ian decided to kill off the character — apparently — in 2007. At a literary festival recently, he claimed we’re tiring of Scandinavian crime thrillers, admitting he was slightly jealous of the success of The Killing, Borgen, Wallander and The Bridge.

What evidence does he have for this sweeping assertion Everyone I know (from Camilla to the Loose Women) can’t wait for the Killing series 3 this autumn. Luckily, Rebus will be coming out of retirement in a new book this November, and I’m sure it will be turned into a television series. Any chance of a bit part I can always play a dead body.