IT is incredible the difference that just one word can make. How much more egalitarian, how much more modern does the phrase 'the People's Honours system' sound than 'the Honours system'.

That one word - 'people' - fumigates a part of our culture and society which has clinging to it the whiff of cronyism and privilege. Of course, many, many deserving people from the worlds of the arts, industry, the emergency services, sport and charity have rightly been rewarded for their service to the nation through the present system. But the present system is replete with symbols of royalty, with words like 'empire', with ermin furs and gold chains - with bowing and scraping - and that's before we even get to the political hacks and boot-lickers whose gong from the queen is more for service to self than to state.

Scotland's Makar has kicked off debate about this topic today in the pages of the Sunday Herald by suggesting we need a People's Honours system, a system free of ancient baggage which rewards real people - ordinary people - for doing good in the world.

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We wholeheartedly agree. The care worker in Glasgow who has spent her entire working life looking after the sick and elderly has done more for society than any MP who forged a career through toadying to the whips will ever do, and they should be rewarded in turn with their own token from the state - not from some royal. It feels right that Scotland - a nation re-defining its place in the modern world - should be the country where this discussion begins. We only hope discussion ends in progressive change.