Peter Rhodes on long queues, royal frugality and Labour looking electable

They sing the National Anthem. They wage war on the Left. They promise to keep the Conservatives' basic-rate income-tax cut. Keir Starmer's party seems in vote-winning shape at its conference in Liverpool. It is a tradition in politics that Labour's electoral prospects improve whenever Labour looks like the Tories. Ask Tony Blair.

How to get elected? Ask Tony
How to get elected? Ask Tony

Queuegate – the alleged queue-jumping by Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield at the Queen's lying-in-state, rumbles on. Having seen the celebrities' account of things, I suspect they saw themselves as working journalists, and did as we journalists do; we flash our credentials and get to the front of the queue. The theory behind this is that a journalist or other VIP is the eyes and ears for thousands, or even millions, of readers or viewers and his/her presence is therefore more important.

Two occasions from my glittering career spring to mind. The first was in 1990 when, as a member of a party from the West, we were ushered past the loyal Soviet citizens in the queue to see the embalmed body of Lenin in Moscow. I don't recall any ill-will towards us, probably because the loyal citizens had spent many decades being ordered around and had learned never to complain.

The second time was in Birmingham in 2009 when a posse of photographers and hacks slipped past the enormous queue to view the Staffordshire Hoard of Anglo-Saxon treasure. I recall some muted harrumphing from the crowd on the lines of “we wuz 'ere fust” and I did feel a little guilty getting first sight of those amazing jewels. If those Brummies had been queuing for 13 hours instead of one hour, things might have turned ugly.

“King Charles enjoys surge in support but backing for monarchy is at all-time low.” (Guardian, September 16). “Poll shows rise in support for Monarchy.” (Daily Mail, September 24). Yup, the best opinion polls always tell you what you want to hear.

Incidentally, the planning for King Charles's coronation next year is well under way. It is rather grandly codenamed Operation Golden Orb, which sits strangely with the Palace's latest assessment of our monarch's modest ways.

You missed it? A palace source declared that: “The King is by nature quite a frugal person.” Priceless.

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