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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 June, 2003, 01:22 GMT 02:22 UK
MPs triumph at tug of war

By Ben Davies
BBC News Online politics staff

If only political rivalries could be settled this easily - a bunch of politicians of varying persuasions coming together to decide a matter of honour at the end of a piece of rope.

No political crises here, no rows over a key issue of the day - this was Parliament at its most light-hearted with MPs and peers putting aside matters partisan to hopefully raise about 120,000 for charity.

The annual tug-of-war at Westminster is something of a highlight of the parliamentary year as suits are swapped for gym kits and battle commences.

Commons tug of war team
MPs put their backs into the 2003 tug-of-war contest
There are several contests but top of the bill is the battle between the men from the Commons and their counterparts from the House of Lords.

For the third year running the MPs won, their victory an echo of the women's contest just minutes earlier, whose team was captained by Labour whip Gillian Merron.

An invited crowd of celebrities and parliamentarians watched the proceedings with actress Felicity Kendall acting as cheerleader for the Commons men's team while Jane Asher backed the Lords.

The male MPs included team stalwarts and Tory members James Gray and Graham Brady and Labour's Graham Stringer and Tony Clark.

Local crowd

Commons Speaker Michael Martin and the new Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, looked on as the tugging commenced for the 16th year in a row, with a running commentary from BBC Radio 2's Don Maclean better known by some for presenting Crackerjack.

Before the politicians could get down to business, the crowd were entertained by a contest between pupils from Westminster and City of London Schools.

The former were victors perhaps in no small part because they had something of a local crowd to cheer them on.

Then came a contest between Westminster journalists - the broadcasters and their colleagues from the House of Commons press gallery representing the print medium.

There was a valiant effort from the broadcast team who had turned out with such journalistic heavyweights as the BBC's Mark Mardell and John Pienaar but in the end the men from the press gallery won the day.

All that training in the press gallery bar had clearly paid off.

MPs, peers learn their ropes
23 Jun 98  |  Politics

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