The Speaker’s manouevres are starting to generate some resistance from the floor of the House, as we’ve recently seen in PMQs.
Now, news from the labyrinth of the Palace.
The Clerk of Clerks resigned recently (to get away from the Speaker’s abusive behaviour, observers said). And Bercow has ripped up the ad for his replacement.
The job description has been rewritten to downplay clerkly knowledge, ability, virtue – and to favour managerial skills, expenditure control, ICI-type experience and abilities.
This will make it easier for an outside professional to get onto the shortlist.
However, he or she will then be competing with others of enormous procedural knowledge.
How would a clever little Prince deal with that?
He would rig the membership of the Panel of Selection.
Last time, the Panel included the whole House of Commons Commission, the Leader of the House, the Chairman of Ways and Means and the Chairman of the Liaison Committee.
Now, rumour has it, Bercow is planning to boot the Commons Commission off his Panel for its recent rebellion (they voted him down 5-1 on one of his pet proposals).
It’s not entirely clear that the Chairman of Ways and Means is in his good books, if other rumours are true. The Chairman of the Liaison Committee? He may keep his place.
And as for the Leader of the House . . . Their mutual antagonism waxes and wanes.
He needs a clear majority and will use his powers of patronage to get it.
Judging from the composition of the Speaker’s Advisory Council on Public Engagement (the real-life parody of a TV parody of a real-life BBC) the Speaker’s choice of outside associates isn’t of the highest quality.
And that is the prize he is playing for: an chief executive he can push around, and a Clerk he can push around with impunity.