It can feel pretty daunting speaking truth to power but please remember you are not alone. The following is a list of some of the well-known people who refused to make peace with the establishment.

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Diane Abbott


Refused to agree with Ed Milliband, calling on Labour to oppose austerity and take rail franchises back into public ownership. In 2012, she tweeted: "White people love playing 'divide and rule'. We should not play their game."

Muhammad Ali

Boxer Activist

Refused to be drafted into the US armed forces in 1966 to fight the Vietnam War. Ali elaborated: "Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten thousand miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?"

Honor Blackman


Declined a CBE in 2002 as she felt that as a republican it would be hypocritical to accept the award. On Thatcher, she said: "She was a powerful figure, but she did damn all for empowering women."

David Bowie


Refused a CBE in 2000 and a Knighthood in 2003, stating: "I would never have any intention of accepting anything like that."

Marlon Brando


Refused an oscar for his role in the Godfather and sent Sacheen Littlefeather instead who stated: "...the reasons for this being are the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry - excuse me [boos and cheers] - and on television in movie re-runs, and also with recent happenings at Wounded Knee."

Noam Chomsky


Refused to pay half his income tax in 1966-7, stating: "My own feeling is that one should refuse to participate in any activity that implements American aggression - thus tax refusal, draft refusal, avoidance of work that can be used by the agencies of militarism and repression, all seem to me essential."

Jeremy Corbyn


Refused to wear a suit to the House of Commons in the 1980's which prompted attempts to ban so called 'scruffs' from addressing the house. Corbyn responded: "It's not a fashion parade, it's not a gentleman's club, it's not a bankers' institute, it's a place where the people are represented."

Bob Crow

Trade Unionist

Refused to mourn the death of Margaret Thatcher in 2013, stating, "As far as I'm concerned, she can rot in hell."

George Galloway


Refused to agree with Tony Blair and was expelled from the Labour Party in 2003 for his outspoken opposition to the Iraq War. In 2005 he stated: "I am speaking for tens of millions, and maybe more, around the world, who know the truth about Iraq. Who know that the real criminals are in Washington. Not in the United Nations. The real criminals are in the White House, not in the Elysee Palace. The real criminals are in the Congress, not in the anti-war movement."

Glenda Jackson

Actor Politician

Refused a DBE, stating: "I'd only want to be a dame if it was in panto."

Nigella Lawson

Journalist Chef

Refused an OBE in 2001. On politics, Nigella stated: "My father would never expect me to agree with him about anything in particular."

L.S. Lowry


Refused a knighthood in 1968; had previously declined appointment as OBE in 1955 and CBE in 1961; later twice declined appointment as CH (1972, 1976). Holds the record for the most honours declined. Stated, "There seemed little point...once mother was dead".

Gina Martin

Women's activist

Refused an OBE in 2020 because she thought it would be "deeply hypocritical" while "continuing to be vocal about my commitment to anti racism."

Doreen Massey


Refused an OBE. On the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the labour party, she noted: "...the use of the word kindness; the insistence that the task is to work for victories not just electorally for Labour but emotionally in society as well."

Mary Midgeley


Apparently refused a CBE. Her views on 'Dawkinism' were as follows: "The ideology Dawkins is selling is the worship of competition. It is projecting a Thatcherite take on economics on to evolution. It's not an impartial scientific view; it's a political drama."

George 'The Poet' Mpanga


Refused an MBE in 2019 due to the 'pure evil' of the British Empire. He stated, "Your forefathers grabbed my motherland, pinned her down and took turns. They did that every day for a couple hundred years and then left her to treat her own burns."

Marcus Rashford


Refused to agree with tory MP's when they voted not to extend free school meals to vulnerable children during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Vanessa Redgrave


Refused a DBE in 1999. In 2005, she stated: "How can there be democracy if the leadership in the United States and Britain don't uphold the values which my father's generation fought the torture, no camps, no detention forever or without trial, without charges, in solitary confinement."

A.J.P. Taylor


Unlcear if he refused a knighthood or was never offered one. In August 1953, writing in the New Statesman, Taylor wrote, "The Establishment draws in recruits from outside as soon as they are ready to conform to its standards and become respectable. There is nothing more agreeable in life than to make peace with the Establishment - and nothing more corrupting."

Greta Thunberg


Refused to agree with the 2018 UN climate summit, telling officials, "you are not mature enough to tell it like it is."

Sue Townsend


Allegedly turned down a CBE. Her views on 'New Labour' being: "I support the memory and the history of the party and I consider that these lot are interlopers."

Dorothy Wedderburn


Refused a DBE in 1990. Eric Hobsbawn wrote: "She was a socialist, university principal, enemy of all self-advertisement and an untypical member of the community of 'the great and the good'".

Benjamin Zephaniah

Poet Writer

Refused an OBE in 2010 stating: "I get angry when I hear the word 'empire'; it reminds me of slavery, it reminds me of thousands of years of brutality, it reminds me of how my foremothers were raped and my forefathers brutalised."