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Tuesday 26th March 2013 | 22:29
This is priceless.
Fearing a 73rd Lords defeat* this Parliament, Tory and Lib Dem party managers were pretty desperate to keep their peers back for a crunch vote in the House of Lords tonight.
So desperate that they even arranged the screening of two British movie blockbusters tailored for the tastes of their red benches: Skyfall and The Queen (starring Helen Mirren).
The 'Ping Pong Cinema Club', so called because the Lords now embarks on a series of 'ping pong' votes with the Commons as bills bounce between both Houses of Parliament, could be a big hit.
Labour peer Lady Basildon has pictorial proof here:
Tonight's particular action was on the 'secret courts' bit of the Justice and Security Bill.
Full of red meat, derring do and stiff upper lips, both Skyfall and The Queen naturally appeal to the ermine-clad Lib Dems and Conservatives. And both wonderfully apt when it comes to 'justice' and 'security'.
But given Daniel Craig and Helen Mirren are both understood to be Labour supporters, the party is joking that they make future guest star appearances to keep the Red red benches happy.
Come to think of it...will 007 burst through the roof of the Lords, after jumping out of a helicopter alongside Helen Mirren/Her Maj, Olympic stylee?
I can just imagine the Lords Speaker stroking the Woolsack and declaring "Ah, we've been waiting for you Mr Bond.."
Anyway, guess what? 'The Ping Pong Cinema Club' seems to have worked. The Government won the vote on secret courts by a narrow 16 votes.
Like James Bond himself, the club 'will return'. It has further screenings after Easter as the Lords faces three more days of late night votes. Exxxxxcellent.
*FOOTNOTE: The Govt had its 72nd Lords defeat since 2010 tonight as peers voted 217-211 on an amendment giving councils powers of resolution over permitted development rights for homeowners.
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