TONY GILLAN: A knighthood was worth having - until they gave one to Gavin Williamson

It’s been generations since the title ‘Sir’ was actually worth having. The choice between receiving either a knighthood, or a trolley dash, is tougher than it once was.

The “lesser” gongs of CBEs, OBEs etc seem to at least have a genuinely meritorious quality.

But the three established procedures for procuring a knighthood, whichever party rules, are: turning up for work (ie. senior civil servants), making appropriate financial donations, or being in the know.

News of a knighthood is often presented alongside the fig-leaf phrase “for services to…” However, there seems to be a slight difference in the case of Gavin Williamson.

Legendary former Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson

Sir Gav was recently rewarded for reasons that are not abundantly clear. Google the words “Williamson services to” and even the internet scratches its head.

Appointed Defence Secretary in 2017, he struggled to understand that Saudi war crimes in Yemen might be a bad thing. Still, he also famously declared: “Russia should go away and shut up.” Putin was terrified, I’m sure.

Nevertheless, Theresa May sacked him for leaking national security council information. No sense of humour that woman.

After running Boris Johnson’s leadership campaign, he became Education Secretary but wasn’t overly successful. He oversaw the 2020 A-Level fiasco and U-turned on extending food vouchers for poorer children during lockdown.

This was after pressure from footballer Marcus Rashford, whom Gav managed to confuse with rugby player Maro Itoje. They have similar sounding names.

Johnson sacked him last September, so a knighthood in March seems peculiar. Not that this has prevented grubby cynics from suggesting it’s in lieu of blabbing what he knows about Downing Street “refreshments”.

Boo to them; although such nasty gossip is always likely until a plausible official explanation can be agreed upon.

Labour’s Education spokesperson, Bridget Phillipson, has either successfully kept a straight face on Gav’s knighthood, or she may even be genuinely miffed. Who knows?

Shame on the likes of me for sniggering. But if the relevant authorities genuinely believe the accolade is deserved, then it’s good news for anyone who aspires to be a Sir. Because if Gavin Williamson can bag a knighthood, anyone can.

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