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The weird campaign to put a portrait of the Queen in every British home

Queen Elizabeth II views a painting of herself by British artist Henry Ward at Windsor Castle, 2016 - Credit: Photo by DOMINIC LIPINSKI/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Mitch Benn looks at another wild week in politics – including Joy Morrissey MP’s campaign to put portraits of the Queen everywhere, and the Matt Hancock affair


It’s been a terrific week for mandatory displays of fake patriotism, or indeed just another week of mandatory displays of fake patriotism if you live in North Korea, and last I checked, we didn’t. Yet.

No sooner had our beleaguered digestive systems recovered from the emetic shock of hearing that “Strong Britain Great Nation” dirge which our offspring are apparently being encouraged to bellow at school assemblies, than we were confronted by the campaign being led by Joy Morrissey MP to affix portraits of the Queen to every flat surface in the nation.

Ms Morrissey (and while we’re at it, THERE’S a surname which is coming in for a right old kicking these days. There’s only Neil and David left to redeem it) has apparently insisted that her campaign is not about REQUIRING schools, civic halls, libraries, bus shelters, and public lavs to loyally and fawningly display a portrait of the Queen (excuse me – of HER MAJESTY the Queen; sycophants never cut that corner).  Rather it’s simply to ensure that all such places who WANT a portrait of the HM the Q can get one.

The obvious specific response to this is surely that all such places who WANT a portrait of her Maj have already got one, and this campaign is not about guaranteeing the availability of royal icons so much as about shaming those places who, for whatever reason, DON’T want one.

The obvious more GENERAL response to this is: JUST PACK IT IN, THE LOT OF YOU.  Enough already with the performative flag-hugging BS. It doesn’t matter how many songs you sing or how many pictures of whoever you hang up where; ostentatious declarations of national greatness and patriotic fervour can’t make up for the fact that you’re presiding over an unprecedented period of actual, measurable, demonstrable national DECLINE.

Being a great nation is like being a genius or a great lover: if you have go round telling people, it isn’t true.


Because yeah, there was no avoiding this, was there?

I honestly don’t care what Matt Hancock did with whom, what, where or when, but that’s not 
at issue.  When, in his resignation statement, he said that he’d hate for his “private life to become a distraction” it raised a couple of points.

Distraction from WHAT?

Having an off-the-books lover is one thing, but if you put her on the payroll at the public’s expense (while, it appears, her family snap up lucrative government contracts) then THAT’S NOT YOUR PRIVATE LIFE ANY MORE, MATT. 


There is, of course, also the question of who leaked the Snog Tapes and, moreover, why the former minister went in for said snog right in front of a security camera in the first place.  Did Mr Hancock leak the video himself?

It makes sense, if you think about it.  This way he gets to resign for “personal reasons” rather than all the things he SHOULD have resigned for.  Or maybe he was just trying to impress the Prime Minister?
If the latter, it seems unlikely he succeeded. Given that Hancock has quit after being busted for just the ONE extra-marital affair (and he didn’t even manage to knock her up) this will just have confirmed to the PM that young Matt was indeed the lightweight he always took him for.


One curious footnote in the Mattgate story; his erstwhile cabinet colleague Brandon Lewis put his foot in it in a very limited and specific way by commending Hancock for “putting his family first.”  That would, of course, be the family that Mr Hancock had just announced his intention to desert in favour of his lover.

I’m not sure if it’s quite the compliment that Lewis seems to think it is to say that your presence is so appalling that the best thing you can do for someone is to stay away from them.  Unless of course, Mr Lewis knew exactly what he was saying, in which case meee-OW.


I’m not reading anything into the fact that just two weeks after the launch of GammonBall News, its founder and resident Big Cheese Andrew Neil has left the station for an “extended break”, and neither should you.  

Nor should any connection be inferred with GB News’s apparent ratings collapse after its first week. And let’s hear nothing of “rats leaving a sinking ship”; that analogy doesn’t apply here at all.
Unless they built the ship in the first place, of course.


There once was a man named Sajid
Whose career took some odd turns indeed
In a previous farce 
He was out on his arse
But now he’s the one that they need.

Because Hancock has had to depart
And Boris said, “When can you start?”
Sajid leapt at the chance
And adopted the stance
With his feet planted four feet apart.

So now the health ministry beckons
He’ll be back up to speed within seconds
With our policies wrecked
And the virus unchecked
He’ll be out before Christmas, I reckon.

What do you think? Have your say on this and more by emailing

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