Who's Who

The Rebel Who Lost His Cause

The four tellers slowly approached the Speaker's Table, and bowed. Then the tall one on the far left shouted 'Mr Speaker, these proceedings are a disgrace', picked up the Mace, put it on his shoulder, turned on his heel, and walked quickly out of the Chamber. It was the summer of 1930, and no one had taken away the Mace since Oliver Cromwell.

Unknown to the House, John Beckett's protest was almost a fiasco. He wrote afterwards:

The Sergeant at Arms bore it as though it were exceedingly heavy and I braced myself to lift a substantial burden. The Mace, however, was no heavier than an umbrella. It was as hollow as the proceedings over which it presided. In consequence I nearly lost my balance, and with it whatever dignity I may have possessed.

His enraged fellow members parted to let him through, howling at him, and he found himself almost outside the Chamber, still clutching his trophy:

I decided as I passed into the Inner Lobby, to take the weapon to one of the toilet rooms, and place its head in one of the magnificent porcelain receptacles which I believed would conveniently accommodate it.

But on his way there, two attendants caught up with him and relieved him of his burden.

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