An item in Private Eye caught my eye and, sadly, I think they have a point. Quite a number of those "honoured" have received these for - shall we say - questionable reasons. It seems that presiding over something disasterous is, now, a prime qualifier for an "honour." Many extremely able individuals who make a huge contribution to society through their careers in many fields are never acknowledged or recognised, the argument always being advanced that 'they were paid to do the job ..."
Evidently that doesn't apply to the Civil Service, who, despite being generously paid and looking forward to an extremely generous pension from the taxpayers, still can rely on getting a knighthood or some other 'honour' during their careers or at the end of it. Hardly surprising, since the committee that makes the decision on who to "honour" is composed entirely of, surprise, surprise, civil servants. Nor does it apparently disadvantage them if they have presided over some major failure - in fact that seems to guarantee an "honour." This applies to politicians as well. Not only are they generously paid for their services - drawing a 'full pay' pension after only one term in officer, but they are mre or less guaranteed further very lucrative remuneration as 'advisers' or 'lobbyists' when they do retire - plus, if you've managed to hold some ministerial brief, however briefly and however badly - a place in the "Honours List."
To my way of thinking, awarding the likes of Mrs Blair (Now well on the way to becoming a multimillionaire thanks to her legal practice exploiting legislation she 'persuaded' her husband to enact), Mrs Beckett (a very wealthy woman in her own right, who presided over a complete fiasco which cost billions while Blair's Minister in charge of DEFRA) and various other politicians and civil servants who have all had a finger in one aspect or another of the nation's declining economy, with "honours" actually dishonours everyone who does receive an "honour" for some act of bravery, self sacrificing community service or whatever.
John Major tried to broaden the range of people who could be honoured, it seems that Mrs Beckett's sneering at his attempt to create a "meritocracy" had its roots in her own snobbery. She might have done better to gracefully decline this knighthood - at least it would have demonstrated that she does have some principles.
I think Private Eye have a point. In including these people in the "honours" they have dishonoured the list.