Lib Dem MP Sir Bob Russell caused a stir – and a surge in Westminster sunglasses sales – at PMQs today by wearing a blindingly bright yellow waistcoat.
On closer inspection it seems Sir Bob was out to prove his loyalty, as the garment in question featured an embroidered Liberal Democrat logo peeking out from behind his lapel:
Those who were in the Chamber at the time reliably assure me he was wearing socks to match – leading more than one to wonder whether he went the whole hog and wore Lib Dem pants, too.
We must be told, though I’m not sure I want to know…
Wrestling with the growing Rennard scandal, I can’t imagine Nick Clegg was too pleased with the timing of his front page on yesterday’s Sunday Times magazine…
Whether you like the monarchy or not, you’ve got to agree that the Queen knows her job inside out. It’s hard to think of anyone who has a more natural, ingrained understanding of her role and the protocol that goes with it. Just witness her glance of disappointment when Barack Obama bungled things and talked over the national anthem last year.
So it’s fair to say she does not do things by accident when enacting her constitutional role.
There was a great example of this at her visit to this morning’s Cabinet meeting. As the camera panned down the table, two things were noticeable.
First, that she was sitting in the Prime Minister’s chair. This is symbolic as well as polite – a reminder that the PM exercises many of his powers under Royal Prerogative, on the Queen’s behalf. She was visiting, so he gave up the chair to the person whose powers he exercises.
The second was that the Queen was sitting ever so slightly back from the table. Every minister had his or her chair pulled in to do business – she, though, was a few inches further back.
It is the tiniest thing, but far from irrelevant. It wasn’t chosen to enable a quicker getaway, or for leg-stretching room, but because it was part of her role in the room. In our constitutional monarchy, which has proved such a stable way of preserving democratic liberty against the tyranny of crown or dictatorship since 1688, the Queen was there to watch others exercise the powers of Government, not to govern herself.
She sat by the Cabinet table, not at it. And in those few inches of space lay 324 years of constitutional history – liberty preserved by the placing of a chair.
You won’t find an elected president in the world who is as classy as that.
Last night, I took part in the new series of podcasts from House of Comments, along with Labour blogger Emma Burnell and Lib Dem Mark Thompson. We covered the big stories of the week, Leveson and the rise of UKIP, as well as a bit of a look forward to what might be in the Autumn Statement.
Sometimes in the busy life of a Minister of the Crown it’s not possible to keep everyone happy.
So it was for Paul Burstow, Minister for Care, who was due to speak at the National Pensioners Convention in Blackpool this week – until a Parliamentary debate, apparently called at short notice, meant he had to cancel his appearance.
I’m sure Mr Burstow knew the National Pensioners Convention wouldn’t be best pleased, but I’m not sure he thought they would respond to his absence by doing this:
(hat-tip to the Blackpool Gazette)
The new campaign from my former colleagues at the TaxPayers’ Alliance looks good:
As someone once said, there’s no money left – so personally I struggle to see why we are lending billions to a serial-defaulting country that seems intent on undermining our sovereign territory and trade?
I’ve signed the TPA’s Argentina petition, and I hope you will do the same here.