If, as many reports suggest, Labour is now whipping votes for Beckett in the election for Speaker it dooms Bercow’s candidature, since he has no more than a handful of Tory backers.
It is a shame that Richard Shepherd is not in the running. A thoroughly decent man with a longstanding record of support for freedom of information who is also among the lowest expense claiming MPs. So he won’t win of course…
There is a myth put about that John Bercow’s supposed shift to the left is a result of him falling under the spell of a Labour supporting girlfriend who he subsequently married. Granted it is a better explanation than, for example, he is an unprincipled opportunist focused on self-advancement at any price who will do and say anything to further his career. If he can spin that it is love that made him jettison now inconvenient positions he held previously, all the better…
The truth is that when Bercow met Sally Illman she was a Tory activist, their relationship was encouraged by Julian Lewis MP (he was best man at their wedding). In reality her political history is almost as interesting as her husband’s past. In 1993 she spoke at the Conservative Party conference taking a commendably hard line on freedom of the press, telling Tory delegates
‘All of these stories should be known in a mature democracy. None would have been published under a privacy law . . . To gag the press by cumbersome statute would be wrong, damaging to the press, insulting to readers’ intelligence and harmful to democracy. It would be a foolish error of political judgement and we would pay a hefty price.’
Quite right. Wonder if she will still hold to that view after tomorrow…
Hopefully Jim will have got his story straight by the time they ask him to explain the fake invoice from a fake company with a fake VAT number. He has given the Scottish press various explanations involving pubs and cash. That should work Jim… Not.
Ladbrokes spokesman Robin Hutchison says: “Bercow has been drumming up support since Michael Martin announced he was stepping down. But his chances now appear to have gone for a walk.” Punters on Betfair have also shifted the smart money onto Beckett, making her the new favourite. Bercow has come across badly at hustings, proving that the more you know Bercow, the less you like him. The realisation is also growing on the Labour benches that as Speaker he will be like a football referee who thinks the crowd are cheering for him.
There are is also a suggestion that his “back story”, the supposed “journey” from the right to the left under his wife’s influence, will not withstand scrutiny. Her political past is a little more interesting than hitherto has been understood…
The FT has it “on good authority that John Woodcock, one of Brown’s two spokesmen, is to quit; the move could come soon.” He is after his old boss Hutton’s seat. Now is he the one who, post McBride, went round telling the Lobby that he would have Guido for breakfast or was it the other one, Michael Dugher?
They come and go so fast in Downing Street nowadays you barely have time to get them in your crosshairs…
The Fink responds to Guido’s call this morning for leader writers to lose their anonymity. Tom Harris agrees. Not sure this is a campaign so much as a reflection. Fink basically says Philip Collins, Michael Binyon, Antonia Senior, Camilla Cavendish, Oliver Kamm, Joe Joseph and himself write the leaders in various combinations and permutations. Is that really a good reason why the contributors can’t all sign the leader?
Reading between the lines Fink seems to be saying that the editor sets the direction and we just write the stuff. Like Fink, Guido has written a few speeches for others in his time, Fink knows as well as anyone that actually he who crafts the words gets as great a chance to set the tone and direction as he who speaks or commissions them. If Fink is intimating that leader writers, like barristers, say things they don’t believe for good professional reasons (such as the editor told them the line to take) that is in itself interesting. Wouldn’t it be better that instead of hiding behind collective anonymity, they took personal responsibility for something they themselves take quite seriously?
Incidentally, some newspapers employ very young leader writers to pontificate. It seems laughable to be lectured on the strategic geo-political imperatives of Iran by someone who has just completed their gap year. We deserve to know who the authors of a leader are so we can judge with what authority they write and weigh their words accordingly.
Incidentally, Guido wrote his first newspaper leader when he was 21 (for The Sun). As it happens it was on a topic about which the young Guido was pretty well informed and was in any case more of a polemic. It was re-worded by the great Ronnie Sparks who was the official leader writer at the time during the reign of Kelvin MacKenzie. It was unsigned.
Guido is overwhelmed by emails and the abundant evidence of expense fiddles. So Guido is going to sit back and let everybody else go through the available data. It proves Guido was right about one thing that he has repeated […]
When Guido started back in 2004 he tried to be an anonymous blogger until he was outed by the Guardian duing the 2005 elections (a Labour party employee had traced back the fax number). A major part of the reason […]