Diary: So why is the Queen still waiting to speak?

 

The poor old Queen must be wondering how many days in her diary have to be kept blank while her ministers send out confusing messages as to when the next Queen's Speech is to be held.

This event usually happens once a year, in November, or else immediately after a general election. The most recent was on 25 May 2010. By next week, two Novembers will have slipped by, and we still will not know when Her Maj. will come to Parliament to strut her stuff once more.

The decision to delay the Queen's Speech seems to have come from out of nowhere. It was not part of the coalition agreement thrashed out in May 2010, but was arrived at later. No one outside the government was consulted, Lord Wallace, a government whip admitted in the Lords earlier this year.

Two weeks ago, the leader of the Commons, Sir George Young, announced that the Speech will be in May. That was promptly contradicted by Lord Wallace, who told the Lords that Sir George meant to say 'in the spring'. The day before, Sir George fell into line by telling MPs "I am not in a position to confirm a specific date."

On 6 February next year, the Queen will have been on the throne for 60 years, so she is not going to want to be reading out a political speech near that day. It cannot be done in the run up to the local elections, because the Speech would then be a political broadcast for the coalition parties, which would seem to rule out holding it before 3 May. Another three weeks, and the coalition will have managed the unique feat of keeping her waiting for two years.

Cameron fails as a used car salesman

One of the most effective political posters of all time was devised by John F.Kennedy's campaign team in 1960, featuring a shifty looking Richard Nixon over the caption, "Would you buy a used car from this man?"

The people who run the on-line market craigslist have commissioned a YouGov poll to see which of the best known world leaders have the Nixon look. The result, I am afraid, is not brilliant for David Cameron.

He did okay when respondents were asked from whom they would most want to buy a used car, though he was below Barack Obama and Angela Merkel. When they were asked from whom they would least like to buy an old charabanc he was down at the bottom, only just ahead of the now deposed Silvio Berlusconi.

Tory triumph lost in a cloud of CS gas

A meeting in a coffee shop in Stroud, in Gloucestershire, last May was a triumph for the local Tories when their leader, Frances Roden, persuaded an Independent, Ray Apperley, to join the group and give them the one vote majority they needed to retain control over Stroud District Council. They were so pleased that they made Council Apperley the council's deputy chairman. But it has all turned sour. On Thursday night, it was announced in Coun Apperley's absence that he is stepping down after a police raid on his home which led to his arrest for possession of two canisters of CS gas. The councillor said he imported them from Poland to protect his home against burglars, and did not know he was breaking the law.

Revealed: the curse of Steptoe

The veteran scriptwriter Alan Simpson cleared up a small mystery for me when met we met at an "Oldie" lunch this week. Reading Hansard for 24 July 1962, column 1254, as one does, I came upon a cryptic exchange between Dr Donald Johnson, Tory MP for Carlisle, and the Postmaster General, Reginald Bevins. Dr Johnson was complaining about an offensive 'epithet' or 'expletive' heard on the BBC, and wanted the government to take action to ensure that it was never broadcast again.

This discussion was interrupted by another MP who complained that he did not know what Dr Johnson was talking about, but the Speaker, Sir Harry Hylton-Foster, ruled that no explanation could be forthcoming because it would involve "unparliamentary language".

But what was this appalling word that could not be repeated in the Chamber of the House of Commons? I learn that it was uttered in the closing second of an episode of Steptoe and Son called The Piano, written by Ray Galton and Simpson, in which the heroes become so frustrated in their efforts to move a piano that an exasperated Harold Steptoe exclaimed that it could "bleeding well stay there!" Yes, he actually said "bleeding", on BBC television. You can see why it was ruled 'unparliamentary'.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are in need of a HR Manage...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager - HR Consultancy - £65,000 OTE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + £65,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: London, Birmingham, M...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all