Thus yesterday, to the House of Lords to see the butt-crack, the builder's bum of the Labour Party, being dignified, elevated, made noble. We all sucked our teeth and said, "Ooh! Big job, that." The ceremony only lasts a few minutes – how could it be long enough, even for the preparatory cleaning?
Pauline Prescott in the gallery – as lovely as ever, and fragrant in a black, broad-brimmed summer hat – she's had the old brute for 30 years and hasn't managed to dignify, elevate, or bring out his inner nobility.
We saw his Corinthian core only rarely. Once, we were all waiting to watch him in committee and he passed by us with the words, "Come to pour another bucket of shit over Parliament, have you?"
So here we have the only magnanimous thing he's done in a decade – accepted a peerage which makes him look ridiculous in order to please his wife, Lady Prescott.
But to the scene itself. Black Rod entered the chamber, followed by Gold Stick. I'm guessing it was Gold Stick by the gold stick he carried. He wore a magnificent tabard decorated with golden lions and roses. They had done their bit for the deficit by selling a little advertising in the bottom left hand quadrant: a large Irish harp and in letters too small to see, "Gold Stick is sponsored by Guinness: it's worth the wait."
The two officers were leading the first victim. This was Quentin Davies, the Tory turncoat. His face would fit here, among the bright red benches. He heard himself described, possibly for the first time in his life, as "trusty". He resisted the temptation to glance behind himself. Then they called him "well-beloved".
"You do know who I am?" he must have been tempted to ask. "Mr Davies, Quentin Davies?"
They did him and then he was there, the man of the moment wrapped up in a huge red robe, concealing who knows what. It was a shock, actually, to be reminded of him: proud, scowling, resentful, vengeful, partisan, with a big pork belly, and a mind like a bucket of bait.
It's a very odd business politics – how could a man like that have been Deputy Prime Minister of Britain for so many years?
Ah, he was the Judas sheep that led the Labour left into New Labour's pen. He made the coalition possible. The price he demanded was position and office – he was DPM and the minister of the biggest, stupidest multi-department that British government had ever seen.
Everything he touched turned to ordure, his empire was dismantled, and while his office collapsed he remained indispensable. Chris Mullin's diaries describe a mixture of arrogance and incompetence that defies précis. What a colossal failure!
One happy memory: he'd been having sex with one of his staff members – once at tea-time behind the open door of his office. Our dashing Don Juan couldn't keep it together and the woman later went to the papers with the news that the Deputy PM had "a penis the size of a cocktail sausage".
Now, I do believe I am the originator of that phrase. Twenty-five years ago, in the Naff Sex Guide written with Willie Donaldson, the phrase I had for one of our naff sex descriptions was "hung like a cocktail sausage". For poor old Presco to be tormented beyond the grave, as it were, it's impossible not to feel some satisfaction. It's a small part in his history, and aptly enough, it could hardly be smaller.
But there he is, the Queen's right trusty, well-beloved counsellor. He may have, hold, possess all the rights, privileges, advantages that are due to a Baron's natural right. And, as these things go in threes, heaven knows what Maisie, Tracy and Casey, what Posy, Rosy and Josy, that dignity, title and honour entails.Reuse content