Time to modernize medals

    Spotlight Audio 7/2021
    Colin Beaven vor Großbritannien-Flagge
    Von Colin Beaven

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    Transcript: Time to modernize medals

    We’re not exactly short of lords in Britain. Boris Johnson has been busy creating new ones — 52 at the last count. One of them is the prime minister’s younger brother.

    Lords and baronesses make up the second part of Britain’s Parliament — the unelected bit. They can be helpful when the elected part goes crazy. But choosing new lords from names on Boris’s Christmas card list? That doesn’t sound right.

    It’s hardly the correct approachHaltung, Ansatzapproach. It to disrupthier: zerstörendisrupts our democracy. More accurately, it’s half “correct” and half “disrupt”— in other words, “corrupt”.

    But Boris isn’t the first prime minister to play Father Christmas with political rewards. David Cameron did the same when he left 10 Downing Street in 2016. At least he left Downing Street. If only Boris would do the same.

    And it’s not just the political right. The former Labour prime minister Harold Wilson famously chose some questionablefragwürdigquestionable candidates as lords before he to resignzurücktretenresigned in 1976.

    Being upgraded to lord is one of the top prizes on offer. Men become “Sir” when a member of the Royal Family to tapleicht schlagentaps them on the shoulder with a swordSchwertsword. It’s like a duel in which only one person is given a weapon. If there’s an accident, you end up not as a knightRitter; auch: zum Ritter schlagenknight, but as a kebab. Watch the film Minions to see how it’s done. When Kevin the minion does the queen a huge favour, she to grabpacken, sich schnappengrabs a sword and knights him there and then.

    For women, the title is “Dame”. But various medals are open to anyone, such as an MBE. Don’t be cynical: it doesn’t mean “Money Buys Everything”. MBEs are often given to ordinary people who have done extraordinary things.

    MBE is short for “Member of the Order of the British Empire”. Seriously? Britain no longer has an empire. How can you give out medals named after something that no longer exists, and which caused no end of trouble when it did?

    Some, such as the Rastafarian poet and author Benjamin Zephaniah, have refused a title. Others, like the Beatles, sent their medals back. Buckingham Palace is probably a bit like IKEA, with a counterSchaltercounter for customer returns. Perhaps you can do it online: not click and collect, but click and reject.

    We can’t change history, but it really is time the government got itself a new atlas. At one point, there was an official recommendation to change the “E” in MBE to “excellence”. It hasn’t happened, perhaps because the traditional MBE is a big part of our history. But so was sending children up chimneyKaminchimneys.

    If a change of name is too difficult, why not create a new awardAuszeichnungaward — such as a Medal for Being awesome (ifml.)großartigAwesome? That won’t work either; we already have an MBA. It stands for “Money Buys Anything”.

    We do need a solution. Those who have been fighting the pandemic deserve a medal, but we can’t expect overworked DHL drivers to keep leaving parcelPäckchenparcels on the doorstep at Buckingham Palace every time a recipientEmpfänger(in)recipient wants to send a medal back.

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