Speaker Watch: MPs’ Contempt for Bercow’s ‘Advisory Council’

The Speaker’s Advisory Council on Public Engagement (est. 2010) turns out to be a real-world example of the satirical comedies Twenty Twelve and W1A.

“Stellar” professionals – Thoughtsmiths, Imagineers, Branding Experts – were called in by the Speaker on a mission to “point the House of Commons firmly towards the creation of a Parliament of the People by 2015.”

How did that go?

The minutes are published up to April of last year, under the chairmanship of Prof. Jon Drori, senior Thoughtsmith (there were two of the blighters). No one seems to know whether the Council has disbanded, gone to ground or just stopped publishing minutes.

The minutes are worth reading, as source material for a modern comedy of the higher-grade, media class riff-raff.

But for those without the time: rearrange the following words and phrases from two years of minutes, into a inspirational, innovative, mold-busting, ground-breaking, outreach strategy:

Rallying cry for change, Channel Four’s youth and diversity team, Radio 1 partnerships, fun-based events, video pieces, podcasts, written work and even art and poetry, capturing and sharing images, mumsnet, champions, permeable parliament, real momentum, mindset of experimentation, Reichstag for the people, Russell Brand, Joanna Lumley, iterate, curate, a booth, something on the scale of the Olympic Delivery Authority, on their turf, changes to the “product”, eye-catching, cross-cutting select committee co-operation, stunty, Take Your MP to Work Day, serious masterplan, like the Meltdown festival, dress-down Friday, alternative language, what real people think, and Danny Boyle.

Some of their recommendations were put in front of a couple of MPs.

The idea that they weren’t trying to engage with the public (or voters as they’re called) caused some surprise. The idea that they weren’t “in touch with” the concerns and problems of their constituents was met with hollow laughter. And the Take Your MP to Work Day (the only enduring idea of the Council) was found to be beneath articulable contempt.

But for sheer ignorant arrogance, the prize-winning sentence was: “A sub-group will meet to consider visual language and purpose of Parliament”.

That’s a bit outside the circumference of media monkeys.

The purpose of the group must have been to advise the Speaker to do what he wanted to do anyway. Did something go wrong somewhere?



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