The SNP's Angus MacNeil and Labour's George Foulkes found some rare common ground a few days ago in condemning the Queen's 'silent' participation in a cabinet meeting, on the grounds that it breached a "vital separation of powers". Personally, I'm all for stunts like this - anything that undermines the ludicrous mythology of a monarchy that is "above politics" can only be a good thing, and means that the debate about the sort of Head of State we want in future will at least be marginally more clear-sighted. In a democracy, people who wield power are held accountable for their actions - or at least that's the theory. I look forward to Prince Charles being subjected to a long-overdue Paxman sneerfest one of these days.
No, what took my breath away was not the Queen's cabinet appearance, but the naming of a part of Antarctica in her honour. We know all about the extent to which individual Tory politicians lack self-awareness, but this is the clearest example yet of an institutional self-awareness problem on the part of the entire Tory/Lib Dem government. This is an administration that wants the world to believe that its upholding of British sovereignty in the Falkland Islands is not about imperialism, but self-determination. As I've said many times, that's a perfectly defensible position, because the Falklands are not an empty land - they contain thousands of people who want to retain the constitutional link with the UK, and who are the only stable population the islands have ever had.
But to ride roughshod over Argentina's Antarctic claim - which is no more or less legitimate than Britain's, because Antarctica really is an empty land - will send a powerful signal to the whole world that Britain's actions in the South Atlantic are in reality driven by the old, unreconstructed imperial impulse. Just how moronically insensitive can they get? Why not rename somewhere in the UK after the Queen? Or why not give her a beach in Pitcairn, if for some reason it really had to be an overseas "possession"? Oh no, that's not good enough for imperialist Tory governments - nothing but a continent will do for their monarch.
Yup, it's true - Cameron thinks he's Benjamin Disraeli. With a bit of luck, that delusion might just be taking a slight knock in 2014.