There were several Croydon figures in the New Year’s Honours list published on Saturday, many of them having been generous donors to political parties or time-serving journeymen for politicians, as KEN LEE reports
The Cabinet Office is keen to emphasise how the New Year’s Honours are now more inclusive. They say that, “5 per cent of recipients identify as being LGBT” and that women make up “47 per cent of the total”.
But the challenge in the awards process is eliminating an in-built weakness of awarding those who are already known to the Establishment, in a self-perpetuating, less-than-virtuous circle of tawdry mutual back-slapping.
This is especially the case with those who give financial donations to political parties or are paid to work for politicians.
This is evident in some of the Croydon recipients this year.
The honours system would be more transparent if these connections were declared at the time of the announcement of the honours. Failure to do so devalues the system’s more worthy recipients.
The Tandon family are contributors to Croydon Conservative campaigns, including Gavin Barwell, who these days has an office in Downing Street, which is most convenient for dropping by the Cabinet Office with a note of who might be considered for a gratuitous gong for “services rendered”.
Balraj Tandon and his family live on the Whitgift Estate and have created a large petrol station business. He secures an MBE.
Tony Rowland is well-known to both Tory and Labour parties in Croydon and his MBE comes “For services to Undertaking and the community in Surrey”.
Rowland has a very long history of numerous charitable endeavours including the Brenda Kirby Cancer Centre, supporting and setting up the Thornton Heath Festival, as well as aiding freemasons, scouts and guides in the borough.
For six months after the Croydon tram crash in 2016, his firm of undertakers, Rowland Brothers, ran grief seminars.
Rowland began his career in 1953, and in that time his firm, Rowland Brothers, has pioneered a prominent business in repatriating those who have died overseas.
Monks Hill resident and Blairite stooge Martin Angus has been awarded an OBE “For political services”.
How that has ever served the wider public community is unexplained.
The satirical fortnightly, Private Eye, long ago invented a similar award, the OBN, especially for services to self-serving sycophancy.
The flurry of congratulations for Angus from his friends in politics demonstrates this well.
Angus is a long-standing political advisor in the Labour group office at the Local Government Association. It’s his job, for which he has been well-paid.
Devoted to the cause of international war criminal Tony Bliar, Angus often spends much of his social media time delivering what he must think are withering put downs of the democratically elected leadership of the Labour Party and its large body of supporters.
The Bliar-backing Progress party-within-a-party itself was quick to congratulate Angus, apparently awarding him an educational qualification, an MBA, too.
Progress MP Wes Streeting, in congratulating Angus, recognised the faults of the honours system, but felt that these can be overlooked when it’s one of his Blairite mates getting a gong: “There’ll be lots of the usual, legitimate, criticism of the honours system over the next day or so, but there are plenty of dedicated people who work tirelessly without expectation of thanks or recognition. And they bloody deserve it. Congratulations Martin.”
So that’s alright then.
During her brief effort of representing the people of Croydon as a local councillor (she gave it up after a couple of years, to spend more time with her merchant banker career in Manhattan), The Hon Emily Benn always found staunch support from Angus.
And The Hon Emily (whose mother worked closely for Bliar when he was in No10) returned the favour on the announcement of Angus’s honour, with a flurry of Random capital Letters. “Sometimes, Great things happen for Great People. Congratulations to the wonderful Martin Angus,” she fawned.
Angus was clearly excited by the prospect of a visit to Buck House some time in 2019 for his investiture, so much so that last week – before the strictly embargoed Honours list was published – he was displaying a deep-rooted support for the monarchy, defending Her Maj after the misguided decision to record her Christmas address to the nation in front of a golden piano.
Demonstrating his firm commitment to the socialist principles of the Labour Party, Angus spent the days between Christmas and the New Year venting his wrath at anyone who had the temerity to highlight the contradictions implicit in the royal TV appearance. Woe betide Corbyn-supporting Grauniad columnist Owen Jones, or the left-leaning Daily Mirror, when they dared question the mixed messages that the Queen’s Christmas Message might send out.
Angus may have even unwittingly coined a new Labour Party slogan: “For the many, not the kazoo”.
Angus claims to own a golden kazoo, which led others to speculate that his musical skills deserved an upgrade on a mere OBE.
The Association of Labour Councillors highlighted Angus’ skills as worthy of further honour. “We are hearing speculation it would have been a knighthood if it has been for political service and kazoo playing!!”
Hilarious!! Oh, how we laughed.
Former Home Secretary Jacqui “No expenses spared” Smith demonstrated (inadvertently, of course), how the honours system really works for those in high places, and those who help put them there, when she tweeted of Angus’s “sheer hard work that goes into making a political system work”.
So deserving of public recognition, clearly.
Angus was even congratulated by the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Croydon Central, Mario Creatura, the Prime Minister’s official Twitterer, who managed also to give a namecheck to Rowland and another of the borough’s residents, Daniel Taylor.
Taylor gets an MBE for promoting diversity in the work place.
Creatura must have summoned up all his digital communications skills to prepare the tweet, though: he cropped Bliar out of the image he used of Angus.
There were other Croydon residents named in the Honours at the weekend, too, whose awards might reflect doing more than just their paid job, and doing something for people other than themselves or their political allies.
Carol McDermott is an Addiscombe resident whose children’s book spoke of cancer of a seven-year-old girl, and she receives an MBE for her services to young people and diversity in literature.
If you want to help Her Majesty choose people worthy for awards but who lack the political links of some of those on the 2019 lists, then you can use Gov.UK’s form here.
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Congratulations to Tony Rowland MBE who is a very deserved recipient of an honour, for all he does to support the wider diverse community in addition to those you mention. Although I have my doubts about many honours, especially those which go automatically to people who do well paid jobs and to political donors and ‘friends’, and despite our political differences (which have never been more than subjects for jokes between us), Tony is one of the most deserving people to be recognised in this way.
Did Mr Angus get his gong for services towards data protection?
Congratulations Tony, well deserved for all.your hard work in our Borough. Proud to call you a friend (even though your politics are a tad dodgy!) Your work and commitment to the Thornton Heath Festival is always welcome. I look forward to working with again this year.