Will it be thank you and good knight?

Will it be thank you and good knight?

Should you bet on him becoming Sir Anthony?

In something of a novelty market from William Hill, they’re asking whether Blair will get a knighthood during 2010. As they put it,

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair is campaigning for Labour again and as a result William Hill are offering 10/1 that he will be knighted this year.

Is that worth taking? I don’t accept Hill’s thinking – I don’t believe for a moment Blair is campaigning because he thinks there might be an honour in it for him. For a start, were it true, it would imply that he is little better than Brown’s marionette, willing to jump for the right price.

Leaving that to one side, the precedents suggest that the odds are quite finely balanced. All the post-war Prime Ministers received a knighthood with the exception of Harold Macmillan, who didn’t accept any formal honour until he was ninety. The rest were generally offered them shortly after retirement and clearly Blair hasn’t had his yet.

The usual award is that of the highest order, a Knight of the Garter, which is limited to 24 members but where there is a vacancy. New members are announced on St. George’s Day so this could be quite a quick market to pay out. The likely coincidence of that date with the general election campaign doesn’t help Blair’s case but Jim Callaghan received his in 1987, only just before that year’s election was called.

Even so, before and during are two different things and the Queen – who does have a say in Garter awards – will want to avoid any potential controversy, so the 10/1 looks about right to me.

Whether Blair is receiving any counter-pressure to accept or press his case from the would-be Lady Cherie, one can only guess.

David Herdson

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