Chris Packham CBE

Chris Packham outside the BBC standing under George Orwell’s very apt quote. Photo credit: somebody who was walking past at the time.

Chris Packham has been awarded a CBE in the New Year’s Honours List. Congratulations Chris!

It is highly significant that this award is for services to nature conservation, not for broadcasting.  Of course this recognition of Chris’s role in speaking out on matters such as grouse shooting, fox hunting, raptor persecution, illegal bird killing on Cyprus and Malta etc etc goes well beyond his broadcasting roles and well beyond those of most of his fellow broadcasters.

No-one could describe Chris as an establishment figure, but someone deep within The Establishment has realised that his contributions deserve this recognition despite the fact that Chris is a thorn in the side of the powers that be.  In this year when Chris organised the People’s Walk for Wildlife and the People’s Manifesto for Wildlife this honour is especially fitting.

Chris’s friends and supporters, and the millions who watch Springwatch etc on TV will be pleased for Chris, and pleased that his campaigning zeal has been recognised in this way.   And I hope that Chris is pleased too (although I suspect he will be a bit embarrassed by it). We can be sure that others will not be pleased at all, including the more disreputable members of the shooting industry who will be up in arms that the character they so often nastily deride is now a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. 

Chris Packham said:

In an age where illegal fox hunting, the continued persecution of birds of prey and the unscientific, uneconomic and inhumane killing of badgers continue, our wildlife needs a voice to shout above the noise. Maybe the silent have spoken, maybe a terrified fox, a wounded hen harrier or a trapped badger whispered and this is their thanks. I’ll take that, say ‘ta very much’ and stop shouting … and start screaming and I won’t stop until the killing does.

And that quote from Orwell again:

If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.

Well done Chris! Sorry, well done Commander Chris Packham of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire!!

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42 Replies to “Chris Packham CBE”

  1. Well deserved. Gosh, the wildlife crime apologists will be seething. But who cares what they think. Great news!

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    1. "who cares what they think"

      Well I must admit I do but only in the sense that I am delighted that they will be pissed off by this award!

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  2. Well done Chris!! You fight so fearlessly and tirelessly for Nature Conservation, you so deserve this recognition. I'm thrilled for you! Keep fighting and we'll keep following you!

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  3. I think that we all understand why you will never be a recipient Mark.

    Congratulations to Chris for the recognition, but the establishment's hankering for the residue of Empire still makes me uncomfortable to say the least.

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  4. So very richly deserved. Congratulations to Chris. Congratulations and thanks too, to all those who support him

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  5. This is brilliant and am positive I wasn't the only person whose first thought was 'this'll piss off a lot of very bad people' accompanied by a wave of joy. Well done, well deserved Chris!

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  6. This is so unexpected.
    I hope it may be that this is in recognition, not only of the excellent work that Chris does, but also of the efforts of others who support him, including Mark.
    That will hopefully silence his many critics for a while.

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  7. Richly deserved Chris, I am certain you will keep up your very vital work and if possible step it up. You have millions of backers and supporters.
    A word of thanks and support too to Mark Avery who runs this brilliant informative blog and is involved in so much campaigning for our persecuted wildlife. This blog raises the profile and awareness of the public to so many of the atrocities, legally and illegally, perpetrated on our wildlife and environment.

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  8. As Charlie pins on his medal Chris asks how many Hen Harriers nesting succesfully on Balmoral!! Or will he turn it down due to the continued killings? Watch this space.

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  9. I've always thought that this is the oldest, establishment, trick in the book. If you can't silence someone easily then subdue them in a cloying embrace and make them 'one of your own'. I do hope that Chris rejects this invitation to the club and, hence, much of what it stands for.

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    1. Sandra – actually Chris’s work merits the KBE. That’s if he likes that sort of stuff. But then genuflexion is surely not his style.
      Ken Loach famously turned down an OBE: “It’s all the things I think are despicable: patronage, deferring to the monarchy and the name of the British Empire, which is a monument of exploitation and conquest.”
      And then there’s the novelist J G Ballard’s rejection of the CBE: “It goes with the whole system of hereditary privilege and rank, which should be swept away. It uses snobbery and social self-consciousness to guarantee the loyalty of large numbers of citizens who should feel their loyalty is to fellow citizens and the nation as a whole. ...”

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  10. Whilst not a huge fan of the honours system, as many who have read my comments here will understand. However there are sometimes exceptions, I have huge respect for Chris and what he is trying to do as a high profile conservationist, as such this award is completely unexpected and richly deserved. Well done Chris, it means people are listening!

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  11. One further thought, I find it difficult to contemplate that, with all its vested interests, that this Government and especially Ms Coffey, has had much to do with recommending this award but I could believe that some one like Prince Charles might have been involved. This is all guess work of course.

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  12. From what little I know about the honours system, your name doesn't get published unless you accept, so we must assume that Chris has accepted his CBE award. It's also higher than an OBE or MBE so, to the people who care about these things, it's not a token gesture to be dismissed. I hope that a few molars that have already been worn down on lead shot are being ground today and that Chris's voice will be heard louder and stronger in the year to come.

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  13. I am no fan of the honours system, but if they are going to give awards then it is good to see Chris get one. It offers some balance to the usual suspects.It also makes people talk about it-which also helps.

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  14. Delighted to see this. Without entering into a debate about whether establishment recognition is to be prized or not, I'm just uncomplicatedly pleased for Chris Peckham and for the cause of nature conservation

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  15. A number of people above are suggesting Chris should refuse the honour but I think that would be a mistake (in any case I think Lyn Ebbs is correct that the fact it has been published indicates he has already accepted). The granting of a senior honour to him is a serious slap in the face to those who continue to support the illegal persecution of birds of prey and who have consistently sought to smear Chris. As well as recognising Chris' courage and persistence in fighting to protect wildlife everywhere it is also recognition of the fact that Chris' views are shared by a wide section of the public. Congratulations Chris on a well deserved award!

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    1. Taking or rejecting this CBE – it's great publicity to the cause.
      And the added bonus of having the thing is that Chris can always sling it back if the need should arise. (More good publicity: E.g., John Lennon returned his MBE in protest against the UK’s support for the Vietnam and Biafra wars half a century ago.)

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  16. I think that Jonathan and Murray both make good, valid points. Personally, I wouldn't (in the unlikely event) accept anything from those who abuse our natural heritage, let alone bow and retreat backwards from them. Furthermore, I honestly believe that anything with the words "British Empire" should be slung in the dustbin of history. Germany had the decency to acknowledge its sordid, imperialist past (imagine, if you will, the title "Commander of the Third Reich"), the UK, on the other hand, built statues to its criminals.
    That said, I once again add that this is a personal view, and you won't see any condemnation of Chris for his acceptance. All those involved in our struggle ate those that truly merit recognition.
    P.S. will "The Phantom Disliker" have the bottle to explain his/her objections to this award?

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  17. The use of the word ‘Empire’ in these awards is outdated and inappropriate. Regardless, I still feel the British honours system is valid.

    Moreover, this award to Chris is thoroughly well-deserved and a timely poke in the eye to those that would rather see him discredited.

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  18. Commander eh? Same rank as James Bond. We need a 007 to fight for our wildlife, couldn’t be anyone better. Fantastic.

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  19. Yes Lyn Ebbs is right, from a number of people I know one is asked if one will accept the award/honour BEFORE the award is made and your name is published.
    In addition, as far as I know one has to be recommended for the award by at least one independent party.
    I think Chris was quite right in accepting the award. It all helps to put the conservation movement on a par with those who practice so called “field sports” in the eyes of those who know little or nothing about conservation. It may well especially worry those Lord and Lady shooters, hunters and grouse moor owners where birds of prey regularly “disappear”.

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  20. Just to confirm, potential recipients of honours are sounded out before receipt and that's when someone not wishing to accept indicates as much. To refuse after being honoured therefore involves a deceit.

    I suspect most people declining an honour do so without more; and most of those who do let it be known do so graciously. In realpolitik terms, there is not great publicity gain to be had from 'refusal', and some downside risk. It seems to me Chris has got it exactly right in those terms, accepting the gong and making the that statement.

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    1. I concur with the sentiments expressed by Coop, whilst also agreeing that Chris deserves official recognition for his excellent work for wildlife.

      So Alan Cranston has summed it up well, in his last sentence.

      However, use of the words 'British Empire' in that honour is a total embarrassment, in my view. We are living in the past.

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  21. It must be some time since a statue of an imperialist was erected in Britain. Leaving that aside, it is hardly constructive comparing the British Empire to the Third Reich.

    For the most part, we look back on our imperial history simply as the actions of men and women we cannot identify with; the product of motives we do not really understand. It is emotionally easier and politically more convenient to inquire no further. But it is not particularly helpful. If we accept – as any thoughtful Indian does – that the British Empire had a shaping influence on India, then where is the common sense in claiming that the same history has not had at least as important a role in Britain? Can we seriously pretend that a project that dominated the way that Britain regarded the world for so many hundreds of years has had no lasting influence on the colonisers, too?

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  22. I accept the points made about our honours system in general. However, having seen Chris' interview on BBC Breakfast, in which he managed to get in points about raptor persecution etc, along with highlighting other key campaigners, including Mark and some of the fabulous youngsters we have, I think on balance Chris is right to accept the award. I don't think he's going to be co-opted by the establishment if that was the aim. Best of all is how the haters will be seething with rage.

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  23. With respect, Coop, you have completely missed the point.

    I am not condoning the actions of the British Empire. I am merely saying that it isn’t constructive to just brush it under the carpet and pretend it never happened. The world appears as it does now because of it.

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  24. No, I wasn't suggesting that you were, or that anything is "brushed under the carpet", Ed. I just stated my opinion that the term "British Empire" is offensive, and that I wouldn't accept any award which commemorated something which is nothing to be proud of. I think it's perfectly reasonable to compare the British Empire with the nazis, the ancient Romans, and mongols, or any other bunch of mass murderers. 😉

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  25. Then what pray are my views that victims of the British Empire might just take issue with?

    Consider this, entirely as devil’s advocate. The Commonwealth of Nations is a voluntary association of 53 sovereign states. Nearly all of them are former British colonies or dependencies of those colonies. How can that be the case if the British Empire was really as nefarious as you make it to be?

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  26. Indeed, sorry Ed. "Views" was ill-chosen, and gave entirely
    the wrong impression. To answer your (devil's advocate) second point, I'd suggest that "commonwealth" is a misnomer, as the wealth isn't really held in common, or evenly distributed. Indeed, it might be said that these empires still exist, in economic form, propped up by international trade laws which continue to benefit the richest nations at the expense of the poorest (pretty much like UK society). The fact that some of these countries (or, more importantly, their politicians) might possibly be financially worse off if they left the commonwealth, can't, under any circumstances, justify the crimes which resulted in its formation. On the face of it, this looks like a case of "what have the Romans done for us?" However, I'm sure those that were slaughtered and enslaved by them might just tell them to stuff their aquaducts! 🙂

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  27. That’s a rather cynical and inaccurate portrait of the Commonwealth in my view. Member states have no legal obligations to one another. Instead, they are united by English language, history, culture and their shared values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. These values are enshrined in the Commonwealth Charter and promoted by the quadrennial Commonwealth Games. If anything, the Commonwealth has proved that it’s possible to heal wounds.

    There is no equivalent association with the Third Reich.

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  28. We're going to have to agree to disagree here, Ed, as this is just going round in boring circles.
    Once again, congratulations to Chris.

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  29. Agreed that it’s going round in circles, but not that it’s boring. Clearly it’s an issue that you feel passionate about, but I don’t think much of your argument.

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