rewarding civic behaviour / by Nick Ierodiaconou

This recent article by Catherine Bennett in The Observer on knighthoods and peerages raises some valid points and a timely conversation on recognising civic behaviour. Bennett begins with asking the question of how to "hurt" Sir Fred Goodwin, the former RBS chairman of exorbitant pension fame, and suggesting that one way might be to "take away that knighthood". She notes that Knighthoods are "supposed to reward consistently high standards of civic behaviour" with a further requirement that "a knight's achievements be inspirational and significant nationally". Further to this - and this is important - she quotes government guidance on honours which explains that "the sovereign may, on the advice of ministers, cancel an award if the holder is considered unworthy to retain it. The object of forfeiture is to preserve the integrity of the honours system." The article goes on to how the worthiness of Sir Fred is clearly in doubt and is worth reading.

But this topic goes further than just how to hurt Sir Fred and speaks to a far more systemic problem of the importance we as a society place on   civic behaviour. Do we still have a collective understanding of what constitutes a meaningfully contribution to society; what behaviour we as a society promote and celebrate; how champions are selected/elected/promoted etc.

Between the debates on pro-localism, forms of regeneration , the decline of the high street and finger pointing of blame for the current economic crisis and their collective subsequent effects on our communities, are we overlooking the more fundamental concerns of what might underpin sustainable economies and communities in the form of everyday civic-ness.

AF