Low-tax profits

Your Leader (14 August) suggested that ultra high earners who pay as little as 1.6 per cent of their income in tax should not preach good works. It beggars belief that one so disinclined to bear his share of the nation's finances should have been honoured with a knighthood. The allocation of a similar award to Stelios Haji-Ioannou, instigator of the environmental disaster that is budget air travel, is a more recent example of the antisocial ethics or the confused thinking of our political masters. Or am I taking the concept of honours too literally? If peerages can be bought and if the humble MBE can be dished out for, say, a uniquely slow transatlantic crossing in a rowing boat, then perhaps we should accept that "honours" may have nothing to do with excellence or with service to the community, but as often as not are handouts to hucksters.

Ray Brown
Nedderton, Northumberland

This article first appeared in the 21 August 2006 issue of the New Statesman, Al-Qaeda: Britain in its sights