Politics.co.uk Blog

Thursday, 22 October 2009

The most prominent rod in the land

Every so often journalists in parliament's press gallery treat themselves to a pleasant lunch, where illustrious speakers from the world of politics lecture them on this and that. Today the lucky few enjoyed the words of wisdom of the former Black Rod, Lt Gen Sir Michael Willcocks, who completely failed to avoid making phallus jokes about his title.

Sir Michael, reflecting on his eight years in the role, has few regrets. He avoided the advice of Labour peer Margaret Jay that he was "far too good for this job" and viewed the opportunity to wear a "bloody silly uniform" as a mere extension of his previous military career.

At one stage the apparently never-ending stream of anecdotes threatened to pause, as he touched on "recent events" - the unveiling of a little bit of corruption here, expenses fiddling there. "We're now tainted and I think the country has lost complete trust in the whole system." He added: "The momentum for reform is now unstoppable. The question is what form the reforms will take."

All this reform appeared a little much, so it was back to the usual cut and thrust of story after story after story. At least, having hung up his black rod for good, he knows his successor is in for a pretty easy time of it.

"All you do is knock on the door and walk backwards," he said modestly. Not a bad way to pass the time of day.

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