Have you ever noticed references to the parliamentary Opposition getting Short Money and wondered where the term came from? Well, it was named after Edward Short – now Baron Glenamara – a Labour politician who came up with the idea that the Government should help fund the Opposition (loonies who argue that Cuba has a healthier democracy thank the UK, take note!).
Baron Glenamara is still alive. Born in 1912, he is the second oldest living member of the House of Commons. The other is, of course, James Allson. Baron Glenamara has been around a long time; he was leader of the Newcastle City Council Labour group in 1948!! Good on him.
Another long-living Labour peer and contributor to political discourse can be found in Baron Barnett, who naturally came up with the Barnett Formula. Joel Barnett’s formula for funding the various outposts of the UK may not satisfy everyone but it has guaranteed him political immortality – which is surely the best sort of immortality there is!
And finally, for something a bit different, I am glad to see that Malvin Kaminsky – aka Mel Brooks – is still alive and kicking. This is the man responsible for The Producers, Spaceballs, Robin Hood: Men in Tights and all kinds of other comic gems. The baked bean scene in Blazing Saddles is puerile genius.
Born in 1926 makes Brooks a hefty 84. Maybe the secret to his longevity is a well-developed sense of scatological humour. It seems grossly unfair to me that the Pope gets an official state visit to the UK whilst Mel Brooks does not.