New Year honours list reflects my aims for 'big society', says David Cameron

PM claims charity workers given honours support his policy, but Labour attack award of KBE to Tory donor and hedgefund boss

David Cameron has pointedly enlisted the New Year honours list, published today, in the service of his "big society" initiative, claiming the community and charity workers among the usual celebrity arts and sporting recipients as supporters of the policy.

Among those receiving high-profile awards are the entertainer Ronnie Corbett and Helena Bonham Carter, fresh from playing the Queen Mother in The King's Speech. They both receive CBEs.

Joan Ruddock, the former CND leader turned Labour MP, becomes a dame, and the businessman Gerald Ronson, once jailed for his part in the Guinness scandal, completes his rehabilitation with the a CBE for his charity work. Jonathan Ive, the British-born designer of the iPhone, iPad and iPod, receives the KBE.

Announcing the list of 984 recipients, the Cabinet Office said: "The vast majority of people recognised include those supporting the big society by making a real difference to their local community through volunteering, fundraising, social action and philanthropy."

Officials claimed that although honours are recommended by an independent committee, the list reflected the prime minister's "strategic agenda".

Labour immediately attacked the award of a knighthood to the hedgefund executive and major Tory donor Paul Ruddock for his philanthropic work. Michael Dugher, the shadow Cabinet Office minister, said: "David Cameron promised to clean up politics, but in office he has shown he is utterly out of touch with decent British people. He's giving a knighthood to Paul Ruddock, who made millions from the collapse of Northern Rock and has given over half a million pounds to the Tories.

"This tells you everything you need to know about the Tories' priorities. At a time when millions of families are struggling to get by, it's the Tories' friends in the City who get the rewards."

The award of honours for community service has been common for many years, but it is highly unusual for them to be tied so overtly to a political agenda.

Three recipients brought along to tell their stories at a briefing in the Cabinet Office expressed surprise that their work had anything to do with government policy. "There are absolutely no political implications to what I do," said Joy Philippou from Bromley, south London, who has been awarded an MBE at the age of 83 after spending decades helping young people to move away from crime and gang culture, motivated by her religious faith. "I started doing this long before that."

Nearly 600 MBEs and 241 OBEs are being awarded – 70% to those involved in community work – together with 27 knighthoods and 94 CBEs. Women make up 43% of recipients and 12% of the awards are to candidates from ethnic minorities – a higher proportion than usual.

Among the knights are Peter Bazalgette, the television producer best known for the Big Brother show, Jeremy Heywood, the incoming cabinet secretary at 10 Downing Street, the poet Geoffrey Hill, the church historian Diarmaid Macculloch, the diabetic specialist Stephen Bloom and Aston Villa's former chairman Doug Ellis, for his charitable donations, as well as the veteran Tory backbencher and former Blue Peter TV producer Roger Gale and Bob Russell, Lib Dem MP for Colchester.

Damehoods go to the author Penelope Lively , the former Labour MP Lady Hayman, now the first elected speaker of the House of Lords, Julie Moore, chief executive of the University Hospital Birmingham NHS foundation trust, Glynis Breakwell, vice-chancellor of Bath University and Moira Gibb, chief executive of the London borough of Camden.

From the media and the arts, there are CBEs for the poet Dannie Abse, the writer and former Observer television critic Clive James and the novelist Rachel Billington. OBEs go to the Sky News journalist Alex Crawford, following her reporting from Tripoli during the Libyan uprising, and Lorraine Kelly, the television presenter.

Crawford said: "I am staggered and honoured and can't quite believe this is not a prank thought up by one of my more mischievous colleagues."

There are CBEs for Paul Smith, founder of Celador, the TV production company responsible for Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, and Steve Lillywhite, the record producer for bands including the Rolling Stones, U2 and the Smiths.

Sporting awards go to the golfers Rory McIlroy – an MBE aged 22 after he became the youngest winner of the US Open in 88 years – and Darren Clarke, an OBE at 42 after winning the British Open. The former cricket umpire Dickie Bird receives an OBE to add to his MBE and Giles Clarke, chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board, gets a CBE.

Chris Paterson, Scotland's most capped rugby international, gets an MBE and the veteran broadcaster and football commentator Stuart Hall achieves an OBE at the age of 82 and Nigel Mansell, the former Formula One world champion, gets a CBE for his work as president of UK Youth.

Among less well known recipients is Christopher Preddie, 24, a north London former gang member awarded an OBE for his work for Crimestoppers, dissuading youngsters from crime.

His brother was shot and two distant cousins are in jail after being convicted of the murder of the schoolboy Damilola Taylor. Preddie said: "When I got the letter, I thought, why me? I used to think I was hard done by, wandering round with my trousers round my bum, but I now show young people how they can aim higher in their lives."

The award did not please Damilola's father, Richard, who said: "I think there should be stricter rules. He's a cousin of the killers of my son. I don't think honours should be given to such people."


Stephen Bates

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Cameron's 'big society' undermined by cuts and distrust, says study

Prime minister's flagship project losing initial goodwill as community groups suffer funding 'body blow', finds report

Patrick Butler, social policy editor

06, May, 2012 @11:08 PM

Article image
Voluntary sector professionals celebrated in 2017 New Year honours list
More than 80 serving and former charity and voluntary sector staff receive medals in New Year honours list, along with hundreds of community volunteers

Charlotte Jones

30, Dec, 2016 @10:30 PM

Article image
Community champions dominate new year honours list
Charity fundraisers and volunteers supporting refugees among those recognised for their contribution

Caroline Davies

30, Dec, 2022 @10:30 PM

Article image
Charities cut off by north-south divide as donors focus on London

'Big society' under pressure with philanthropy biased towards the capital, says leading thinktank

Jamie Doward and Mario Ledwith

23, Apr, 2011 @7:28 PM

Article image
David Cameron revives the British Empire Medal

'Working-class gong' scrapped by John Major to be taken up by prime minister, who wants to reward those doing voluntary work

Nicholas Watt in Perth

28, Oct, 2011 @11:05 PM

David Cameron: charity case
Editorial: After a month, the budget is the gift that keeps giving – to the coalition's enemies


17, Apr, 2012 @8:25 PM

Article image
Big society policy not suited for deprived communities, says thinktank

David Cameron's social initiative is 'better suited to suburbs' with strongest levels of charitable giving in wealthy areas

Patrick Butler, social policy editor

09, Dec, 2013 @12:01 AM

Article image
Loss of funds sinks former pit village's 'big society' plans

Nottinghamshire scheme that helped cut crime and sparked community involvement falls victim to government cuts

Patrick Butler, social policy editor

06, May, 2012 @11:07 PM

Article image
Cuts undermining 'big society', says senior charity chief
Elisabeth Hoodless, outgoing executive director of Community Service Volunteers, says cuts in funding are removing opportunities for people to help deliver services

Hélène Mulholland, political reporter

07, Feb, 2011 @11:16 AM

Article image
David Cameron's 'big society' could be funded by savers

PM relaunches his vision of volunteer renaissance as government plans to expand 'socially responsible' investments

Andrew Sparrow, political correspondent

14, Feb, 2011 @12:05 AM