6 June 2016 – A firebrand socialist who once tried to insult Sir Winston Churchill waved two air pistols at MPs in the House of Commons, it has emerged.
Bessie Braddock, the Labour MP for Liverpool Exchange, was strongly reprimanded by the Deputy Speaker for bringing the two Webley Junior air pistols into the Palace of Westminster – but she ignored him and walked across the floor of the chamber while waving the two pistols and ranting on about airgun licensing.
“Will the Home Secretary do something about this matter? Children of 17 can buy these air pistols,” shouted Braddock, who added: “I have waited to do what I have done and I have done it deliberately. I have done it because mothers and old people throughout the country are subjected to the shooting of pellets from these guns.”
“The honourable lady is out of order in bringing those things into the committee,” spluttered Sir Rhys Morris, Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons.
Oddly, Braddock said she had “bought a licence” for the air pistols – despite firearm certificates not covering airguns.
The socialist MP said she acquired the two Webleys after confiscating them from two youths who appeared in the youth court where she served as a magistrate. She said: “I will hand them now to the Home Secretary, so that he can see what children can buy.”
Are you surprised this hasn’t made the national newspapers? Perhaps you are, and it’s no surprise that it hasn’t – because this happened 60 years ago, in July 1956. Even back then, MPs of a certain political persuasion were convinced that banning the misuse of airguns would lower crime rates.
Braddock was the woman who infamously told Sir Winston Churchill, “Winston, you’re drunk!”, to which the legendary wartime prime minister is said to have responded “Madam, you’re ugly. But tomorrow I shall be sober.”
Although an excellent anecdote, it appears that versions of it had been circulating since around 1880, though one of Churchill’s bodyguards is claimed to have verified the exchange. Perhaps Churchill himself overheard the old joke and couldn’t resist the chance to make it a reality.
A tip of the hat to Ned Donovan, deputy diary editor of the Mail on Sunday, for posting the Hansard extract on Twitter.