Sketch: The Commons debates the Smiths

Morrissey dominates business questions. But the good life is out there somewhere.

By Ian Dunt

You’ve probably never wondered which Smiths song best reflects Sir George Young, the shadow leader of the House of Commons. That is a sign of your brave, enduring sanity in the face of tedium.

Said shadow leader was upset with Harriet Harman this morning for holding the last business questions so early no-one had even sent any Christmas cards yet.

Always game for a laugh, Harman promptly revealed her merry spirit by stressing that despite expenses and the recession “we shouldn’t ignore the festive season altogether”. Yes, thank you Harriet. She then suggested a karaoke session to celebrate and then tried to match up her enemies with a song.

“The shadow leader of the House is not one of the cheeriest members of the House,” she reminded MPs. In fact, while, less than euphoric, Sir George does have a distinctly sensible side. He toyed with his Blackberry throughout the session, for instance, and paid about as much attention as the army of schoolchildren who were ushered into the public gallery half way through. He appears distinctly unflappable, although I might advise him to wear his trousers slightly higher up. At the moment, they hang around his waist like a gangster rapper.

And so it was that Harriet Harman designated Sir George’s karaoke song as the Smiths’ ‘Heavens Knows I’m Miserable Now’. Her own, it’s worth noting, was ‘Uptown Girl’, by Billy Joel, which failed the parliamentary humour rules on three separate counts. Firstly, it wasn’t eviscerating; secondly, it wasn’t self-deprecating; and thirdly, it wasn’t funny. Once they were done with the jocularities, David Heath stood up with: “Ho, ho, ho, Mr Speaker,” which, while not necessarily satisfying any of the above, did prompt an unwilling laugh.

But we weren’t done yet. Damian ‘get out my office’ Green insisted on defending his colleague, and stood up to tell the House that if any Smiths song would do for the eminent Sir George, it was ‘This Charming Man’. Harman was impressed. “I’m going to look at the honourable member in a different light now that I know he’s a true Smiths fan,” she blushed.

So am I, as it happens. But the only line I had running through my head came from Morrissey’s later work: “I’ve been waiting for a time when the English are sick to death of Labour and Tories.”

About this time, the school children were ushered out again by their exasperated teacher. Her work here is done. With any luck, they’ll have been put off politics for life.