One of my photos

Lord Stratford of Stratford

January 9th, 2006 · Posted by Skuds in Politics · No Comments · Politics

The only occasion I ever went to parliament to see a debate it was a spur-of-the-moment thing. It was the early 80s I think, I was doing the tourist thing and decided to see if I could get in.

There was no great queue to get in, which surprised me until I got in and saw what was being debated: the Northern Ireland (Dogs) Bill or something similar. There were only about a dozen MPs in the place and they looked bored as they discussed whether having dog wardens in Belfast was a good idea or whether their uniforms might look too official leading to them being shot.

I only recognised two of the MPs – Ian Paisley and Tony Banks. Although he was at the time a relative newcomer I knew him as one of the intake of refugees from the disbanded GLC. Ever since then I had a bit of a soft spot for him, seeing him putting himself out when 600+ other MPs could not be bothered.

Lets face it, he must have been good to remain popular in West Ham while being such a prominent Chelsea supporter. Above all, he was a committed Londoner, and I think that the claret & blue army in his constituency knew that.

With his local links and love of sport it is truly sad that he will not see the 2012 Olympics.

One thing though: his death and the re-quoting of his ‘witticisms’ reminds us of how dull politics can be. I’m sure he could do a lot better than calling someone a “pot-bellied old soak” but apparently thats enough to pass for side-splitting humour in Parliament. Its a bit like in snooker where the slightest little thing can send the crowd into paroxysms of laughter. I suspect that Parliamentary humour is a bit like Pepys’dancing bear, or was it Samuel Johnson and a dancing dog? Its not that it dances well, but that it dances at all. We expect politicians and snooker players to be dreary and dull, so if they crack any joke at all they are considered world-class comedians.

The ‘pigs-bladder on a stick’ comment was a good one though.


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