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Meanwhile, in the Lords


They're in a debate about World War I commemorations. They have a speakers list, with a rough time limit for each speech of eight minutes. Lord West is in the middle of his contribution (where he also said this), talking about post-traumatic stress in soldiers shot for desertion, when he notices the noble Baroness, Lady Trumpington, sitting on the benches opposite, waving imperiously at him with her stick. (Hansard has made her say "My Lords" because there is no official procedure line for "waves imperiously at speaker with stick".)

Baroness Trumpington (Con): My Lords—

Lord West of Spithead (Lab): I am sorry, did the noble Baroness want to speak?

Baroness Trumpington: Yes, I want to say something. Hurry up and say what you are going to say.

Lord West of Spithead: I shall give way.

Baroness Trumpington: I have a question for the Minister. My father served as a regular soldier in the 9th Bengal Lancers. As such, he fought, and won an MC, in Mesopotamia. What is Mesopotamia these days? [Murmuring. One or two Peers sitting near her helpfully whisper "Iraq" but she doesn't hear them.] Is it involved in future commemoration events? Will the commemorative events go further to include India, which sent a great many people?
The Minister can't answer any questions until the end of the debate, some three hours later. He shrugs and waves wildly at Lord West to continue. Lord West gallantly tries to find some way of tying what Baroness Trumpington has just said to his own speech:

Lord West of Spithead: Yes; Mesopotamia, Iraq—it is all still in a mess, isn’t it? The best ever intelligence on Mesopotamia was the Naval Intelligence Division notes, which were actually jolly useful and I wish that we had read them better before we decided to go into that bloody place. [Hansard]
If you were in a particularly cynical mood you might argue that Iraq is indeed commemorating the fighting of a hundred years ago by enthusiastically re-enacting it, but that very likely wasn't the noble Baroness's point.

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