Well, this was a first for a Saturday afternoon, sitting on the front row of
the opposition benches in the ‘House of Commons’ watching the
“aristotwats” and the Labour party trying to outdo each other.
It’s 1974 and the Tories had endured the miners’ strike and the breakdown of
relations with the unions resulting in Labour grabbing power and ousting
them out of their offices in the Commons. Deputy Whip Walter Harrison
(Philip Glenister) is delighted to find that “the bastards” had wheelie
Labour now cling to power and the whips plot to charm the Liberal and other minority parties into siding with them to increase their majority.
MP’s are pushed to the limits and although there has never been a death in the house, several members are in ill health and the stress isn’t helping.
Rupert Vannsittart (Lord Ashfordly in Heartbeat) plays the Member for Esher and his comic timing is brilliant, he’s perfect as the straight talking, ex-army, take no prisoners character.
The action is fast moving as deals are discussed and votes cast, members dart here and there and take up seats on the benches alongside the audience as they vie with each other to catch the Speaker’s eye.
At one stage and desperate to get everyone in to vote, Walter gives a piggy-back to the oxygen dependent Member for Batley & Morley (Christopher Godwin) and deposits
him onto the seat next to me. Hoots of laughter ensue as other members including a breast feeding Mum and a post-op patient is helping in, still
clutching a blood soaked dressing to his appendix area.
The two deputy whips, Jack Harrison (Charles Edwards) and Walter are thestars of the floor as they negotiate the return of ‘pairing’, this is a
tradition where if a party member is to ill to vote the other party willsacrifice a member to even things up.
My favourite lines (and there were many) were from the Member for Redditch who exclaimed “Redditch! It’s not even a name it’s a noise, sounds like a