Scot­tish Makar calls for Peo­ple’s Hon­ours sys­tem in Scot­land

Sunday Herald - - NEWS -

SCOT­LAND’S na­tional poet, the Makar Jackie Kay, says Scot­land should have “Peo­ple’s Hon­ours” as an al­ter­na­tive to the UK sys­tem. Her idea of a Peo­ple’s Hon­ours was that “it should dif­fer dra­mat­i­cally from the other [UK] sys­tem”. In­stead, she said, Scot­land could do “some­thing re­ally demo­cratic and re­ally in­spir­ing, a kind of peo­ple power hon­our sys­tem” that re­wards or­di­nary peo­ple for ex­tra­or­di­nary endeavour. “I think,” said Kay in an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with the Sun­day Her­ald, “there should be more ways of recog­nis­ing the con­tri­bu­tions that or­di­nary peo­ple make, in what­ever walks of life. There are these peo­ple ev­ery­where, and these are the peo­ple who keep places go­ing. They are the heart and soul of places. Peo­ple like that, I would want an awards sys­tem for them. Hos­pi­tal porters and peo­ple like that.”

Kay her­self ac­cepted an MBE, but she re­calls her par­ents, com­mu­nists John and He­len Kay, re­fused to at­tend the cer­e­mony. “Mum said, ‘I’m no go­ing to Buck­ing­ham Palace to sook up to the Queen.’ I like the fact she did that.”

Oth­ers have pro­posed alternatives to the UK Hon­ours be­fore. Jour­nal­ist and broad­caster Ruth Wishart, in her speech for the 80th an­niver­sary of the Saltire So­ci­ety last year, pro­posed a Scot­tish Hon­ours sys­tem that would be an ex­ten­sion of the Saltire Awards.

Ac­tor Elaine C Smith also backed the idea of a sys­tem that is “more demo­cratic” and peo­ple­cen­tred. “The prob­lem with the UK sys­tem is it’s about pa­tron­age, it’s about pol­i­tics and what party you sup­port,” she said.

But not ev­ery­one sup­ports the idea. Au­thor James Robert­son, a sup­porter in the past, is now against it on the grounds that “suc­cess­fully set­ting up any such sys­tem while Scot­land re­mains a part of the UK would be dif­fi­cult, if not im­pos­si­ble”.

He said: “I would pre­fer a sys­tem of recog­nis­ing in­di­vid­ual cit­i­zens and their con­tri­bu­tions to so­ci­ety that has none of the trap­pings of Em­pire or in­deed of an ar­chaic con­sti­tu­tional sys­tem based on the monar­chy.”

Kay main­tains her Makar­ship has dif­fered from that of her pre­de­ces­sors by, in her words, tak­ing “po­etry to the peo­ple”, and trav­el­ling the length and breadth of the coun­try to events. The peo­ple be­hind the power: Page 20 Leader: Page 40

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