British Prime Minister Tony Blair has looked at the thousands of signatures on the petition to grant Bob Paisley a posthumous knighthood – and turned it down.
In an email to those who signed the on-line campaign for “Sir” Bob to be honoured in a way he should have been when still alive, the Prime Minister even manages to spell Bill Shankly’s name wrong!
The reason given is the same one given last time a campaign was started for the most successful manager in English football history – knighthoods cannot be awarded posthumously. (Awards are usually given to those who have come to the attention of whichever political party is in power at the time, often in return for providing public support for that party's policies).
The petition was only open for UK citizens and so many Reds from overseas were unable to sign it. For those who didn’t sign it for any reason the contents of Tony Blair’s email follow:
E-Petition: response from the Prime Minister
The e-petition asking the Prime Minister to "Posthumously award Bob Paisley a knighthood" has now closed. This is a response from the Prime Minister, Tony Blair.
Bob Paisley's achievements in football were remarkable. It is easy to see why so many people want to see his record formally recognised.
This has been underlined by the thousands of people who have signed the e-petition on the No 10 website calling for him to be granted a posthumous knighthood.
But this is simply not possible. A knighthood is an honour only given during someone's lifetime. Unlike bravery awards and medals, they have never been granted posthumously.
Formally, this is because the recipients of knighthoods are admitted into a particular Order when they attend an Investiture ceremony in person.
In practical terms, however, it would also be impossible to decide which of thousands of figures in our country's history, who were not knighted during their lifetimes, should retrospectively deserve such recognition.
For example, there are already similar e-petition campaigns for posthumous knighthoods for football managers Bill Shankley (sic), Brian Clough, Jock Stein and Bill Nicholson.
But strong cases could also be made for many other high-achieving sports figures as well as authors, scientists and others who were not knighted during their lifetimes. Charles Darwin, Captain Cook, RJ Mitchell, who created the Spitfire, John Lennon and even William Shakespeare are just a few of those who were not honoured in this way while they lived.
The fact they were not knighted, however, does not in any way detract from the contribution they made to this country. Their lives and achievements have each been celebrated and remembered in many other ways. But a knighthood is, however, not possible for someone, no matter how accomplished, who is no longer able to receive it.