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Commons Confidential: Lansman’s royal bid

Your weekly dose of gossip from around Westminster.

By Kevin Maguire

The election to Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee of old Bennite Jon Lansman motivated a snout to disinter an unlikely 1984 royal conspiracy by the Momentum guru. The plan was for Ken Livingstone’s Greater London Council to co-opt the Queen in the fight against Thatcher.

The plot failed, though Betty did open the Thames Barrier. Three antagonised left-wing republicans, including Frances Morrell, then head of the Inner London Education Authority, wrote a lament for their courtly comrade. Mandatory reselection for monarchs remains a constitutional aspiration.

Oliver Cromwell’s caught in a game of cat and mouse between parliamentary authorities and rebels with a grievance. A shadowy cell of MPs is suspected of turning a bust of the Lord Protector to face the wall in a belated protest against the 17th century “Butcher of Drogheda” massacring Ireland’s Catholics. The curator’s office, tired of rotating it back, installed a “please do not touch” sign in the hope Old Ironsides may rest in peace on his plinth. Armed police shouldn’t shoot if they disturb a gang in balaclavas creeping about in the dead of night. They’ll be twisting Cromwell, not blowing the place up.

Tooting karaoke queen Rosena Allin-Khan is a woman of many voices. Labour’s shadow sports minister rejected a five-album Sony deal to qualify instead as a doctor before swapping her stethoscope for Westminster’s political cacophony. MCs spoke clearly or triggered screams when announcing Allin-Khan’s band: The Motherfunkers.

Touring the country to raise funds for Labour at screenings of a film about his life, fearsome former coal miner Dennis Skinner MP was confronted by an irked Nottinghamshire man demanding to know why he calls it “scab county”. “Because,” boomed the Beast of Bolsover, “you didn’t strike in 1926, then again in 1984. Is that enough for you?” It was.

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This article appears in the 17 Jan 2018 issue of the New Statesman, Churchill and the hinge of history