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Leading article: Mace and favour

As the honourable member for Hayes and Harlington, John McDonnell, skipped between the green benches of the House of Commons, the Deputy Speaker knew something was awry. Any rapid movement by our languorous Parliamentarians is a sure signal of impending crisis.

The Labour MP leapt onto the floor of the chamber shouting, "It's a disgrace to the democracy of this country", before lifting the ceremonial mace and placing it on one of the benches. This was intended to represent a dramatic gesture of contempt.

Yet this is the fourth time the mace has been wielded in anger by an MP in the past century. And not forgetting that Cromwell started the whole business off by getting rid of the "bauble" in the first place.

If this trend continues we will surely be on the way to creating another solemn fixture in the parliamentary calendar. Could it be time to institute the official "manhandling of the mace"?