Andy McSmith's Diary: Queen’s speech is rarely heard for a reason

The Queen has taken meticulous care not to feature in political controversy such as the front page of The Sun, which alleged she was for leaving the EU

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Indy Politics

During the 64 years that the Queen has reigned, she has taken meticulous care not to feature in political controversy such as the front page of The Sun, which alleged she was for leaving the EU. It would have been a scoop to remember if it could have been confirmed.

However there have been occasions when the monarch has let slip a comment that appeared to give away what she really thought. The most recent example was not a slip but a carefully worded intervention, when she exhorted Scots to “think carefully about the future” before casting their votes in the referendum. Though of course when David Cameron said she “purred” on hearing the result, that was a gaffe.

The recently published memoirs of the former Labour whip, Baroness (Joyce) Gould, reveal that the Queen made some remark to her about proportional representation, which was “not supportive”. Adam Boulton, of Sky News, boasts of being the only television journalist to have successfully doorstepped the Queen. Broadcasting live from the Commonwealth conference in Vancouver in 1987, he saw her coming down the corridor, and asked her about a recent military coup in Fiji. She was clearly worried about it. Visiting the offices of The Times, in 1985, during the miners’ strike, she asked: “It’s all down to one man?” – an apparent jab at the miners’ leader, Arthur Scargill.

In each of these instances, the Queen came over as a small-c conservative, sceptical of radical change, which would make it all the stranger if she were a covert Brexiter.

Newton Dunn – done for

The blogger Tim Fenton set up an online petition aimed at heading off the possibility that the Sun journalist Tom Newton Dunn, the author of the story about the Queen, might move to the BBC as political editor of Newsnight. Within a couple of hours it had attracted 100 signatures. The Queen has not added hers, though I dare say she is tempted. Anyway, I understand that the petitioners have already got what they want before they even asked. I am told that Newton Dunn’s possible appointment was vetoed high up in the BBC – and not because he had upset the Palace.

Who’s sorry now?

Rebecca Long Bailey, a Corbynista MP, made a revealing remark during the tense meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party on 7 March. If Labour does badly in May’s elections, she asked rhetorically, who would be to blame – Jeremy Corbyn, or those MPs who have made his time as leader difficult by attacking him? She meant the latter, of course. Jeremy Corbyn’s people have their excuse at the ready, two months before the event.

For Fox sake!

Jonathan Lynn’s new play The Patriotic Traitor has a heavyweight cast. Tom Conti and Laurence Fox play 20th-century France’s two greatest soldiers, Marshal Philippe Pétain and General Charles de Gaulle, respectively. The performance on 8 March at the Park Theatre in London was interrupted sporadically by barracking from the front row by someone who thought that he knew more about the subject than the writer did. In a closing scene, Fox took revenge by ad-libbing a reference to “the c*** in the front row”.

Twitter chitter-chatter

Hugh Doyle, the plumber who received a suspended sentence on 9 March for his peripheral role in the Hatton Garden heist, is a Twitter user. One message he posted last month was “it’s official wednesday is now little friday and thursday is the new friday, you heard it here first !!!!!” If you want to know that means, don’t ask me.