Steve Webb and Shirley Williams in New Year Honours list

I have very mixed feelings about seeing Liberal Democrat colleagues in honours lists. As with the knighthood for former MP and pensions maestro Steve Webb and the Companion of Honour for Shirley Williams it is great to see those who have contributed so much to improving the lives of others rewarded.

Tim Farron has rightly been critical of the many honours handed out to members of a very under-performing department, HMRC. Steve and Shirley do, by contrast, have positive contributions to our society and fellow citizens to justify being honoured.

And yet… compared to those who put their lives physically at risk every day in a public service, or those whose jobs involves quite remarkable extremes of physical or mental punishment to fulfilling their tasks, being a politician in the UK is – thankfully – for nearly everyone nearly all the time a pretty tame affair by comparison. It’s also one where success for a frontline politician brings plenty of public acknowledgement already.

There are many other, mostly unknown, better recipients of a system designed to give public thanks on people for their achievements.

So congratulations to Steve and Shirley on their honours which mark achievements that deserve praise and thanks. But I hope they don’t mind if I wonder who out there I haven’t heard of who would have been even better recipients.

UPDATE: As pointed out on Facebook, long-time Liberal Democrat activist Tony Halmos has been awarded a BEM for his work outside politics – his work with the City of London and on the Magna Carta celebrations.