Diary: Flowers finally lay to rest memory of assassinated PM


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The Independent Online

There was a brief ceremony at the House of Commons yesterday to mark the 200th anniversary of the murder of Spencer Perceval, the only British Prime Minister to be assassinated. In The Daily Telegraph that same morning there was a letter marking the event from Lord Lexden, formerly known as Alistair Cooke, historian of the Conservative Party.

Lord Lexden called – tongue in cheek – for an apology from the Foreign Office minister Henry Bellingham, who is from the same family as the assassin, John Bellingham. Mr Bellingham was at the ceremony, and laid flowers.

I hope Lord Lexden is satisfied.

Hague – a friend to all nations equally

An email wings from William Hague's department yesterday – “The Foreign Secretary today met the Foreign Minister of Chile. He said: 'I am delighted to have met Foreign Minister Moreno. Chile is one of our greatest friends in the region...”

That was yesterday. On the previous day, there had been a message that said, “The Foreign Secretary today met the Foreign Minister of Panama. He said 'I am delighted to have met Foreign Minister Roberto Henriquez of Panama... Panama is an important partner for the UK...”

Delightful job he has got there.

MPs: leave the jokes to comedians

With her amazing ability to attract controversy, the Tory MP Nadine Dorries set off a Twitter storm about her appearance on last night's Have I Got News For You several hours before it was broadcast. Her fellow guests included the black comedian Reginald D Hunter, right. Afterwards, she tweeted: “As I looked over my shoulder, Reginald D Hunter was talking to my daughter.#wheresmyshotgunman”

Some people who saw this thought she was being racist. What she actually meant to imply was that Hunter is dangerously attractive. It illustrates a general rule that politicians probably should not make off-the-cuff jokes.

From far right to leftie in 30 years

One of the weirdest of Britain's far-right groups was the November 9th Society, launched in Milton Keynes in 1977 by a man named Terry Flynn.

The name itself is a giveaway. November 9, 1923 was the date of Hitler's beer-hall putsch in Bavaria. November 9, 1938 was Kristallnacht, the state-sponsored outbreak of destruction, thuggery and murder aimed at German Jews.

Members of N9S did not hide their allegiance. They would dress in Nazi uniforms and entice youths to daub buildings with swastikas, including the Labour Hall in New Bradwell.

Flynn's wife, Margaret, took part in these sordid shenanigans until their marriage broke up, after which she transferred her loyalty to the Animal Liberation Front, and was jailed for vandalising a butcher's shop.

Now, older and wiser, she has resurfaced as a newly elected Labour councillor for Bradville, in the same part of Milton Keynes as New Bradwell.

“All this was 30 years ago and in those days I was a brainwashed idiot,” she told the Milton Keynes Citizen. “I should have known better and I have regretted it my whole life. Working for the community now is my way of making up for what I did.”

The Labour Party say they knew about her past when she was selected but decided it would be wrong to exclude her for things she had done over a quarter of a century ago.