Firebrand Labour MP Dennis Skinner did not heckle Black Rod ahead of the Queen’s Speech – because he had “other things on his mind”.
The 83-year-old former miner – who has represented Bolsover since 1970 – has a record of shouting out a witty remark when House of Lords official Black Rod enters the Commons to summon MPs to hear the Queen open a new session of Parliament.
But on Wednesday, Mr Skinner – who last year quipped “coalition’s last stand” – stayed silent in an unusual break from tradition which disappointed expectant politicians, commentators and TV viewers.
Explaining his decision to the Daily Mirror, Mr Skinner said: “I’ve got bigger fish to fry than uttering something.
“I’ve been fighting some other battles, haven’t I? I was fighting the Scottish nationalists single-handed for a while.”
He said he survived “a big battle” to cling on to his favoured seat on the green benches in the Commons – which SNP politicians want to sit on.
The party – which seized 56 of Scotland’s 59 seats at the election – made snatching Mr Skinner’s spot one of its early Commons priorities.
But Mr Skinner fumed: “Why should they be on that bench?”
The last time he kept his lips sealed at the crucial moment was 2002.