I'm not a massive fan of the way the Honours System operates. It's more open and transarent than it used to be, but it is undermined by the domination of honours for civil servants who are just doing their jobs. Indeed, some seem to get honours for doing their jobs very badly.
Political honours have always been controversial. There has been various scandals involving honours going back to the days of Lloyd George, who undoubtedly used the system corruptly. Even in the present day, few would deny that the honours system has been used by all recent prime ministers to reward political allies and donors.
There are plenty of people in the House of Lords, from all sides of the political debate, who are there purely by dint of the amount of money they have donated to their respective political parties.
Nowadays Knighthoods for politicians are awarded, in the main, as a reward for long political service. The Honours List announced today contains three Knighthoods for Members of Parliament. Labour's Alan Campbell gets one, alongside Gary Streeter and John Redwood for the Conservatives.
I've known John Redwood for exactly 30 years. I first met him when he was a newly elected MP in early 1988. I was working as public affairs manager for the British Ports Association. My main goal was to persuade the Thatcher government to repeal the National Dock Labour Scheme, which had bedevilled the commercial viability of many of Britain's oldest ports for decades. I had started to build a parliamentary campaign to put pressure on the government, but the main aim was to persuade Mrs Thatcher that our case for abolition was watertight. John Redwood had been the head of the Number 10 policy unit, so I figured he was someone we should get to know. He arrived at our office much earlier than the time we had agreed so we had a chat before we met my boss. I found him very eay to chat to, very funny and very entertaining - totally different to how people were later to portray him. He instantly got what we were about and proved to be a very helpful supporter of the campaign, and we were confident he was feeding the right message back into Number 10.
I'd see him from time to time over the next ten years or so, but it was in the early 2000s that he started inviting me to monthly lunches he'd hold in the Commons. There was always one subject for discussion after lunch, and those there would then chip in following an introduction to the subect by John. I remember suffering from an incedible sense of imposter syndrome, given I, a mere bookshop owner and blogger, was in the company of think tank directors, top politicians and senior figures from the city and industry. I suspect I didn't say an awful lot for fear of making a tit of myself.
John has regularly appeared on my LBC show, not least on a recent edition of Cross Question, where his fellow panellist Jacqui Smith professed to be rather shocked at how funny and nice he was. The thing with John is he has a very dour image and people rarely see the private side of his character, which rarely gets an airing on the media.
I don't believe that politicians should get a Knighthood just for long service. Too often that happens, but in John's case he quite clearly deserves it. He's an incredibly clever man - I'd go so far as to say he'd be in the top two per cent of cleverest MPs -, is an original thinker and although some believe him to be too ideological and even idealistic, he is the sort of thinker every political party needs, but usually doesn't pay enough attention to.
Nowadays, political leaders tend not to be original thinkers, and because of that they don't know how to deal with those who are. David Cameron, I suspect, slightly feared John's intellect and never appointed him to any shadow or actual ministerial position. Theresa May, a constituency neighbour, hasn't done so either. A Knighthood is scant consolation, to be honest. I'd love to have seem him as Chancellor. He would have been transformative and radical. Yes, he'd have done some very controversial things, but I have little doubt he'd have been a success.
John was one of the first MPs to understand the power of political blogging. Even many of his political opponents read his blog avidly. If you want to understand how the world of politics, economics and finance collide, and what the impact particular policies might have, it's unmissable.
So there we go. I am a John Redwood fan, and unashamedly so. [Stands by for explosions on twitter]