Sunday, June 30, 2013

My eighth Whipped column for Ad Lib

Whipped: From the desk of the Junior Whip

I have mentioned the Chief Whip’s favourite DVDs before. These days he does not watch “House of Cards” often. It’s “To Play the King”, where Francis Urquhart takes on and defeats the monarch, that is his favourite.

So I think the Queen should be worried the Chief Whip takes such an interest in the State Opening of Parliament.

There are two traditions honoured that day. The first is that, when Black Rod arrives in the Commons, Dennis Skinner makes a joke no one finds funny. The second is that a hostage is sent to Buckingham Palace to make sure the Queen returns safely from Westminster.

What happens is this. The most junior Conservative whip is rounded up, has his hair combed and his knees scrubbed and is then taken to the Palace by the Conservative Chief Whip and our Chief Whip, who are dressed in their spiffiest morning suits.

Having delivered their charge, the two of them are driven back to Westminster in an open top horse-drawn carriage in the procession headed by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh.

“The crowds were cheering and waving flags,” said the Chief Whip afterwards.

“Yes, but that was for the Royal Family, wasn’t  it?”

His answer was to throw some photocopying at me. Like I say, the Queen should be worried.


Some of our backbenchers grumbled about the Queen’s Speech, but not half as much as the Tory backbenchers did.

The only thing that keeps them happy these days is the prospect of culling badgers. That is Tory MPs for you: if one of them turns up, the stoats look nervous and the foxes remember urgent prior engagements. Killing animals floats their boat.

I told the Chief Whip I was against the badger cull and was going to join a demonstration.

“Just be careful you don’t join the wrong sett,” he growled.

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