Democrat editor Bill Heaney in the Speaker’s House within the Houses of Parliament at Westminster in London.
Having worked covering politics in Glasgow, Edinburgh, London, Brussels, Belfast and Dublin, I have concluded there are a a great number of chancers in this dirty game – and they aren’t all members of West Dunbartonshire Council.

Nor are they all members of the SNP, as Labour MP Chris Bryant demonstrated by his “disgraceful” behaviour during a heated Prime Minister’s Questions at Westminster on Wednesday.

Boris Johnson was talking about Brexit when the Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle,  interrupted him to rebuke the MP for Rhondda.

Sir Lindsay could be heard saying “Order! Mr Bryant, Mr Bryant” before he added: “I suggest the whip goes and has a word with him. We’re not having that disgraceful behaviour.”

It is unclear what Mr Bryant said or did, but the MP momentarily left the Chamber.

Mr Johnson added: “Mr Speaker, I think you should summon him back. He seems to have vanished.”

A few minutes later, Mr Bryant returned and appeared to have a heated discussion with the Speaker.

Sir Lindsay added: “Mr Bryant, I think we need [to have] this conversation later.”

It was unclear what prompted the reaction from the Speaker, but political news website Politics Home suggested the row was about where Mr Bryant was standing and that there had been “face pulling”.

The Daily Mail’s political editor said Mr Bryant dismissed rumours that he had sworn at the Speaker.

Mr Bryant, a former priest, has been the Labour MP for Rhondda in South Wales since the 2001 general election.

The senior MP recently got into a spat with radio host Dan Wootton, accusing him of being a “complete and utter nutcase” for his views on herd immunity from coronavirus.

Mr Bryant may be spending his weekend wishing that he had been a member of West Dunbartonshire Council when he allegedly let the F-word slip from his limits.

It didn’t cause as much as a mild stooshie in the Burgh Hall when the SNP’s Ian Dickson let it slip in the direction of a woman even, the fragrant Sally Page, Conservative councillor for Balloch and Gartocharn.

One would have considered that itself might be a hanging offence in these Me2 politically correct times, or even the possibility of the hang ’em, birch ’em and boil ’em in oil types on the SNP benches having him thrown to them to deal with.

But there was hardly a murmur from these enigmatic ladies and the council leader brushed it aside in the manner of a policeman at a traffic accident where a celebrity is involved – “Nothing to see here, nothing to see here. Move along, move along, please”.


Dame Barbara Windsor on a visit to West Dunbartonshire pictured with Old Kilpatrick councillor David Grainger, Provost of Clydebank. They cut the ribbon together at the opening of a new cinema in the shipyard town. Picture by Stewart Cunningham

Far too much space and air time was given to the death of Dame Barbara Windsor this week.

I have absolutely nothing against the star of East Enders and hostess of the Queen Vic, the most famous pub in the UK.

However, do we or don’t we as a nation go overboard when it comes to celebrities and “national treasures”.

Far too many people are given recognition far greater than their achievements merit, medals and MBEs and knighthoods even.

I’m not a royalist. More a republican really and if independence was the only way to turn the keys in the locks of the Palace of Holyrood House for a final time and pull up the drawbridge at Balmoral then even I could be persuaded to vote Yes.

I thought it incongruous yesterday that Prince William and Kate were rolled out with their three children on official duty to pay their respects to one of the stars of the Carry On films and East Enders.

Not that Dame Barbara didn’t deserve all the respect going, but shouldn’t these things be kept in proportion?

The royal children would not even have known who she was, I hope. I would not expect them to be brought up on television soap operas. No training that for Eton College after all.

Dame Barbara was a funny,  talented lady with a big heart and she did a lot of good work for charity, dementia and Alzheimer charities in particular.

She certainly deserved her celebrity status to the extent that her funeral cortege should be allowed to drive round Albert Square four or five times to accommodate the thousands of people who would wish to turn out to applaud her.  A star of stage and screen should be recruited to read the eulogy at her funeral.

However, I can’t help thinking that the possibility of Princess Diana singing and playing the piano at Sir Elton John’s funeral would have been considered appropriate even for a moment in any other era.

All this made me think of what will happen when the Queen dies and how and where the celebration of her life will take place. What if Her Majesty or Philip dies during this pandemic? Will the restrictions currently in place apply? Will there be social distancing in Westminster? Will crowds be allowed to line the Mall to pay their last respects?

Argentina gave over three days to national mourning when football hero Diego Maradona died in recent weeks. The death of Eva Peron was similarly marked in Buenos Aires.

The times they are certainly changing.


I considered this was a pretty good summing up of where we are now in relation to Brexit: Our charlatan of a Prime Minister holds the belief that the UK will “prosper mightily ” when the transition period for our exit from the European Union ends on 31 December. I for my part take the view that this exit will “cost us mightily”.
With prospects for any kind of deal falling into an abyss , come 1 January, those Britons who do not enjoy dual European nationality (as I do) will lose the freedom of the Continent: to travel , to live and to work , without restriction – a freedom we have enjoyed since 1973; the ability to join with our fellow Europeans in the many supranational organisations and initiatives that have been promoted and maintained by the EU; and the right to tariff free , frictionless trade in goods and services with the twenty seven members of the EU – and its other four associates (making us the only nation in Northern , Western and Southern Europe to be in this position – truly out on a limb ) – and leading to higher prices; and border disruptions as the lorries wait for hours on end , for the checks . And gunboats in our waters to protect our fisheries …
I keep asking myself : how could any government – in the grips of a world pandemic, and an impending economic disaster as a result of the lockdowns and eye watering levels of public spending – have allowed this to come about ? It’s truly a shocking abdication of responsibility to the people of these islands . The government should hang its head in shame. It it has failed the nation. Paul Pia

Boris threatens to send in the Royal Navy gun boats if there’s no agreement on Brexit.









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