Mace protest MP suspended

A Labour MP has been suspended from the Commons for five days after he picked up the ceremonial mace. Skip related content

John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington) had been taking part in heated exchanges on the Government's decision to go ahead with a third runway at Heathrow when he made his protest.

As Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon made comments backing the decision, Mr McDonnell marched from the back benches down the steps before picking up the mace and placing it on an empty Labour front bench.

Mr McDonnell shouted "It's a disgrace to the democracy of this country!" before leaving the chamber.

Deputy Speaker Sir Alan Haselhurst ordered his five-day suspension.

Mr McDonnell is the first MP for many years to take out his frustration on the ceremonial mace.

The mace, which rests on the table in front of the Speaker when the Commons is sitting and symbolises the authority of the House, has proved to be the ultimate target for angry MPs.

In 1976, Michael Heseltine seized the mace and brandished it above his head in protest at Labour MPs singing the Red Flag.

In 1988, the late Ron Brown, then Labour MP for Leith, grabbed the mace and threw it on the floor in protest at the Conservatives' poll tax proposals. The ornamental gilt mace was broken and he was ordered to pay 1,500 for its repair.

Another Labour MP, John Beckett, was ordered out of the Commons in 1930 when he grabbed the mace in protest at the suspension of another member. The mace was wrestled away from him at the door.

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