Another grey weekend and another royal display of jubilation. The annual round of Establishment back-patting for the queen’s birthday is well underway. Arise Sir Kenneth Branagh! Presumably knighted for services to playing knights. Arise also Sir Stilgoe, Dame Jowell and Sir Baldry. Congratulations too to Alexander Chancellor, of this parish, for his CBE for services to journalism.
Usually, the annual bitter mud-slinging is delayed until the letters pages of Sundays, where those who missed out chippily dig at those who have accepted gongs for being Establishment sell outs. It was ever thus, but a big clap for this year's sore loser Alastair Campbell for getting the ball rolling before the colours had even been trooped.
When he saw that comic legend Armando Iannucci, of Alan Partridge and The Thick of It fame, had got an OBE for his services to entertainment, Campbell tried to turn Iannucci's comedy character based on him against his creator, tweeting
: 'Malcolm Tucker and I do not approve of honours system'. Quick as you like, Iannucci quipped back
: 'It's probably more Establishment to order your army to march into other countries for no reason. Swings and roundabouts.' Ding dong.
Never knowing when to shut up, Campbell came back for more: ‘Three little letters can have more impact than you realise. Tut tut.’ This was never going to end well for him. ‘WMD,’ replied Iannucci succinctly. Campbell has learnt a hard lesson – do not try to out-funny someone who just been rewarded for their comedy. To everyone else Iannucci said, ‘I hope it’s not an attempt by Government to stop me because that’s not going to happen.’ Mr Steerpike certainly hopes not.