Lack of order! Bringing the House down

Debates have overstepped the mark before

The aisle that divides the government and opposition MPs in the House of Commons measures 3.96 metres, which is, according to tradition, the length of two swords. Violence has never died out.

Bernadette Devlin and Reggie Maudling

Bernadette Devlin, who at 21 wrested Mid Ulster from the Unionists, witnessed events in Derry on 30 January 1972, when 26 Catholic demonstrators were killed by British soldiers, but she was not called to speak when the massacre was discussed in the Commons the next day. When the Home Secretary, Reggie Maudling, told MPs that the Army had acted in self-defence, Devlin could take no more. She thumped him. Afterwards she said: "I'm sorry I didn't get him by the throat."

Michael Heseltine and the Mace

Passions erupted on 27 May 1976, when the Labour government narrowly succeeded in passing a Bill to nationalise the shipbuilding and aviation industries. Exultant Labour MPs struck up a chorus of "The Red Flag". Tom Swain, a Labour MP from the Derbyshire coalfield, allegedly punched the Tory MP Michael Spicer in the stomach, and Michael Heseltine, a former minister for aviation, seized the ceremonial mace and brandished it above his head.

Ron Brown does a Heseltine

Ron Brown, an Edinburgh Labour MP, was so left wing that he was known as the Member for Afghanistan Central. On 18 April 1988, at the end of a debate on the poll tax, he picked up the Mace and threw it on the ground.

Journalists falling out

On 5 November 1991, when news broke that the media mogul Robert Maxwell had drowned, Michael White, of The Guardian, visited the room occupied by Daily Mirror journalists to ask gleefully: "Have you heard about Bob, Bob, Bob?" The Mirror's political editor, Alastair Campbell, below, promised to punch him if he did not leave the room at once. He didn't, and Campbell did.

The Scotch Whisky reception

George Foulkes, a long-serving Labour MP who is now Baron Foulkes of Cumnock, is a genial soul never known to raise his voice, let alone threaten anyone. But on 19 July 1993, he emerged from a reception hosted by the Scotch Whisky Association in a terrible hurry to get to the division lobby to vote. On the way, he collided with an elderly lady, but carried on, only to be stopped by PC John Williams. Foulkes became so agitated about missing the vote that he punched the officer, for which he was later fined.

The businessman and the copper

What put company director Ian Thomas in a rage was being told by a police officer that he had no right to be in a corridor behind the Speaker's chair, as he emerged from a reception given by Eric Pickles, then the Conservative Party chairman, on 30 March 2009. He gave PC Christopher Leggett a mouthful of abuse and lashed out – he claimed after he had had CS gas sprayed in his face – and gave the officer a bleeding lip. He received a suspended prison sentence.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

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 General

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee