Speaker Watch: The Evolution of the Little Prince

John Bercow’s intention of being Parliament’s “ambassador” is evolving into something grander.

Much grander.

In the chamber, his condescension towards Members has become quite princely.

In the last month:

Mr Speaker: (To Simon Burns) He’s a lucky chappy; let’s call the fellow from Chelmsford. (Note royal ‘we’).

Mr Speaker: (To Ian Paisley) Order. The hon. Gentleman has already had one go. His appetite ought to have been satisfied for now. He seems to be a hungry caterpillar, but he will have to wait. Never mind.

Mr Speaker: I call the aviation Minister no less, Mr Robert Goodwill.

Mr Speaker: (To Francis Maude) Order. I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman. He is plodding on to the best of his ability, but I say to him politely that . . .

Mr Speaker: I wondered whether guidance was being proffered, but it was merely an expression of interest, in the form of a genuflection, from the Clerk at the Table.

Mr Speaker: The principals are present and correct and we can proceed with questions to the Prime Minister.

This is very far from the tradition of Speaker Lenthall (who famously had tongue to speak only as the House directed).

But such comic grandeur shouldn’t blind his critics to the Speaker’s serious purposes and abilities.

There is the change to SO33 that he has – amazingly – been able to get onto the Order Paper for Thursday (it will pass).

It provides for the Speaker to select up to four amendments to the Queen’s speech and in its arcane way, represents a significant expansion of a Speaker’s ability to influence events.

The last I heard of this proposal, it was rejected by the Government’s business managers so fiercely there was no possibility it would ever get on the order paper. Now, here it is. Why? There will be more than one explanation. But it has the support of Charles Walker (the Speaker-backed chair of the Procedure committee, remember) and therefore of the Speaker.

What does it matter?

Imagine an inconclusive outcome to the next election. A minority Tory Government decides to struggle on. The first test of confidence will be the Queen’s speech. The opposition and minor parties each have an amendment, but there’s a rebel Tory amendment on Europe as well.

If that is selected, it will split the Tory party and bring down the Government before it has started. What a princely victory for the Speaker that would be.

This is the gift Andrew Lansley has made to the Speaker’s party. He thinks his legacy will be e-petitions. Perhaps it will be something else.

NB: But the law of unintended consequences is capricious. If the Speaker has the power to bring down a fragile Tory Government, they will have a real incentive to bring the Speaker down first. And that means bringing back, before the end of this Parliament, the proposal to re-elect the Speaker by secret ballot (something he and Harriet Harman were careful to avoid).




Tip offs: 0709 284 0531
team@Order-order.com

Quote of the Day

The Donald asks what America wants from a President…

“I spent less, I won the most. Isn’t that what you want from your President for a little time?”

Top Posts This Week

Guidogram: Sign up

Subscribe to the most succinct 7 days a week daily email read by thousands of Westminster insiders.

Facebook

REMAIN TAKES PROJECT FEAR TO CHURCH REMAIN TAKES PROJECT FEAR TO CHURCH
SOUBRY’S BIG NISSAN-DERSTANDING SOUBRY’S BIG NISSAN-DERSTANDING
JIM SHANNON ORDERED TO REPAY £14,000 EXPENSES JIM SHANNON ORDERED TO REPAY £14,000 EXPENSES
PAY “ONLY REAL RED LINE” FOR BMA JUNIOR DOCTOR LEADERSHIP PAY “ONLY REAL RED LINE” FOR BMA JUNIOR DOCTOR LEADERSHIP
NET MIGRATION UP 20,000 TO 333,000 NET MIGRATION UP 20,000 TO 333,000
POLICE INVESTIGATING TESSA MUNT ELECTION EXPENSES POLICE INVESTIGATING TESSA MUNT ELECTION EXPENSES
LEAVE.EU ON HOOK FOR £500,000 BREXIT GIG LEAVE.EU ON HOOK FOR £500,000 BREXIT GIG
TRUMP SINGS “WE’RE GONNA BUILD A WALL” TRUMP SINGS “WE’RE GONNA BUILD A WALL”
OZBOT VERSUS ANDROGENOID OZBOT VERSUS ANDROGENOID
EDDIE IZZARD’S HOTEL BILLS NOT LAWFULLY DECLARED EDDIE IZZARD’S HOTEL BILLS NOT LAWFULLY DECLARED
POLITICAL PARTY RICHLIST POLITICAL PARTY RICHLIST
EU PLOTS TAX ID NUMBERS FOR EVERY EUROPEAN CITIZEN EU PLOTS TAX ID NUMBERS FOR EVERY EUROPEAN CITIZEN
MUNT ADMITS SHE DIDN’T DECLARE LOCAL CAMPAIGN TRANSPORT MUNT ADMITS SHE DIDN’T DECLARE LOCAL CAMPAIGN TRANSPORT
OZBOT VERSUS ANDROGENOID OZBOT VERSUS ANDROGENOID
“Fat Cats For EU” “Fat Cats For EU”
“CHEATED” LIBDEM PICTURED CAMPAIGNING ON BATTLE BUS “CHEATED” LIBDEM PICTURED CAMPAIGNING ON BATTLE BUS
CHRISTINE HAMILTON HIRED ON THE PUBLIC PAYROLL CHRISTINE HAMILTON HIRED ON THE PUBLIC PAYROLL
CONSERVATIVES IN: SPOT THE DIFFERENCE CONSERVATIVES IN: SPOT THE DIFFERENCE
HULL UNIVERSITY THIRD TO DISAFFILIATE FROM NUS HULL UNIVERSITY THIRD TO DISAFFILIATE FROM NUS
CAMERON’S AIRFARE FABLE CAMERON’S AIRFARE FABLE
TELEGRAPH BLOODBATH: NEW JOBS CULL UNDERWAY TELEGRAPH BLOODBATH: NEW JOBS CULL UNDERWAY
CCHQ FREEZE MPS AND ASSOCIATIONS OUT OF VOTE SOURCE CCHQ FREEZE MPS AND ASSOCIATIONS OUT OF VOTE SOURCE
OSBORNE MISSED BORROWING TARGET BY EVEN MORE THAN PREVIOUSLY THOUGHT OSBORNE MISSED BORROWING TARGET BY EVEN MORE THAN PREVIOUSLY THOUGHT
POLICE INVESTIGATING SHADOW MINISTER OVER ELECTION EXPENSES POLICE INVESTIGATING SHADOW MINISTER OVER ELECTION EXPENSES
TOOTING BY-ELECTION CAMPAIGN KICKS OFF IN BATTERSEA TOOTING BY-ELECTION CAMPAIGN KICKS OFF IN BATTERSEA
ELECTORAL COMMISSION ON JOCK-‘COPTER CAMPAIGN ELECTORAL COMMISSION ON JOCK-‘COPTER CAMPAIGN
STURGEON DUCKS CHOPPER QUESTION STURGEON DUCKS CHOPPER QUESTION
NUS CHIEF EXECUTIVE PAID FIVE TIMES AVERAGE GRADUATE NUS CHIEF EXECUTIVE PAID FIVE TIMES AVERAGE GRADUATE
CORBYN CLAPPED COMMIE LEADER FOR REFUSING TO TOAST THE QUEEN CORBYN CLAPPED COMMIE LEADER FOR REFUSING TO TOAST THE QUEEN
SNP CHOPPER NOT DECLARED PROPERLY SNP CHOPPER NOT DECLARED PROPERLY