Bercow Non-Denial Stokes Speculation

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Last week Michael Fabricant wrote to the Speaker to give him the opportunity to shut down speculation he is considering breaking his promise to the House and remaining in his post beyond 2018. Bercow’s coy response will spark further rumours:

Dear Michael,

In view of your touching interest in my career, I should simply encourage you to look back at what I have said in the past and to compare it – in due course – with what I do in the future.

Yours ever,

John

Such transparency and accountability from our modernising, reforming Speaker…

Speaker Given Opportunity to Shut Down Speculation

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Last week John Bercow stoked speculation about his future by refusing to confirm if he would keep his promise to stand down as Speaker in 2018. Michael Fabricant, whom Bercow cut off in the House, has today written to the Speaker to ask if there is any truth to the rumours that it is his intention to break that promise and serve for the whole of the next Parliament:

“I invite you once more to respond to the question:  If you are invited to take the Chair after the next election, do you still plan to adhere to the commitment you made before being elected Speaker and stand down from the Chair on or before 22nd June 2018?”

Fabbers tells Guido: “His commitment to the House was clear less than six years ago when he was elected and he made it a plank on which he was elected. It may be that, contrary to leaks emanating from Speaker’s House, he has no intention of breaking his promise”. Well, Mr Speaker?

Inside the Commons: More Airtime For Bercow Critics Next Week

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Inside the Commons, the four-part documentary which began screening last night, was first floated by SACPE (the Speaker’s Absurd Committee on Public Engagement). The Speaker might have assumed that he, as the patron of the project, would get the lion’s share of the glory and emerge as the public face of British democracy.

However, the programme was being put together last summer, at the same time Speaker Watch was covering – or uncovering – the row surrounding the appointment of the new Clerk and John Bercow’s descent into megalomania.

This may have informed the programme’s editing.

The first episode promotes Bercow’s critics, sceptics and opponents. Michael Fabricant, a persistent sceptic was prominent. Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker’s deputy and widely tipped successor was showcased positively. But most of all, Robert Rogers, loathed, sworn-at by the Speaker, driven from office by him, was the constitutional centre piece of the first episode.

Kate Emms, the sometime secretary to the Speaker, and (rumour has it) also hounded from her job by Bercow’s relentless persecution, is featured significantly in episode 2.

Bercow himself had an establishing shot last night. Leaning back on his throne, brooding, exuding a sense of latent and, for those who follow him, malevolent power, like a medieval prince.

If Cockerell did get the hang of Bercow during the filming future episodes could be the most remarkable piece of television.

SPEAKER WATCH: What’s Going On? I’m Going On!

Warning bells would have gone off early in the Speaker’s head when he heard Michael Fabricant use the date of his accession to his Speaker’s throne. The bells would have become clamorous at the first “but”, and turned into sirens at the words “no longer than nine years”.

Thus:

Michael Fabricant:

“Point of Order, Mr Speaker. You may recall back on 22 June 2009 you were speaking before Parliament and you were talking about Speaker Onslow who was in office for more than 30 years but you said that if you were elected to Parliament, you have given your commitment, Mr Speaker, to serve no longer than nine years in total. And I just wondered – ”

Speaker:

“As has just been pointed out to me by the Acting Clerk whom I know the honourable gentleman rightly respects, this is not a point of order. I’ve nothing to add and we’ll leave it there . . . .”

Not a point of order, so sit down?

Members get up on points of order to have a chat with the Speaker, to wish him happy birthday, to praise him for his wise and intelligent chairing. He can listen to that indefinitely. Here comes a chance to confirm on the record that he will serve for no longer than nine years – as promised – and he cuts the questioner off.

This is starting to firm up whispers Guido hears that Bercow has no plans to stand down after nine years, and that his intention is to serve the whole of the next Parliament.

Fabricant tweeted: “I thought it was rather cowardly the way the Speaker blamed the Acting Clerk for cutting me off.”

Did the Clerk spontaneously advise the Speaker this wasn’t a point of order?

Or was he prompted to do so by the Speaker?

Or did he in fact offer the advice at all?

Guido has a call in to Acting Clerk David Natzler to seek the answer to these interesting questions…

Burns Burns Bercow, Again

From Her Majesty’s Super Dooper Loyal Torygraph this morning:

SIR – The Speaker of the House of Commons wants to modernise voting in elections through the introduction of online voting in 2020.With his support, the election of all the deputy speakers as well as most chairs and membership of select committees is now done by secret ballot. However, despite efforts to introduce a secret ballot for the re-election of the Commons Speaker, he has rejected and blocked this. This suggests that his modernising zeal does not extend to matters that might affect his self-interest.

Simon Burns MP (Con)
London, SW1

He’s not Happy…

VICTORY: Mills Appointment Officially Dead

Statement after PMQs is apparently not for Bercow to grovel, despite his ‘pause’ in appointing a new Commons Clerk becoming permanent. Delicious.

Bercow’s “Pause” Formally Terminated

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The Speaker’s attempt to stitch up the Commons clerk job for disgraced Aussie Carol Mills is officially over. A report by the House of Commons Governance Committee published today finds that “the ‘paused’ recruitment process for Clerk of the House/Chief Executive should be formally terminated”, ruling the Clerk job should be split:

“The Clerk of the House should remain Head of the House service, appointed by Letters Patent, but should not also be titled Chief Executive; A new post of Director General of the House of Commons should be created, reporting to the Clerk but with clearly delineated autonomous responsibilities for the delivery of services”

They conclude: “we propose new recruitment processes for the Clerk of the House and the Director General of the House of Commons which are in line with modern recruitment practice”. Jack Straw did not want the report to be critical of the Speaker, he wants the reforms to command wide support and be implemented, they almost certainly will. This is implicitly as much of a slap down for the Speaker the Governance Committee was ever going to give…

Speaker’s Nemesis Named Speccie Parliamentarian of the Year

Ouch.

PMQs SKETCH: E.D. Phone Home!

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Good old Brooks Newmark, he hath done the sketch some service.

On a question about the inner workings of the penile system and afflictions of the testicles there he was, lounging behind the questioner in his paisley-coloured dreamland. He’s certainly […]

Speaker Watch: Lansley Wounds Bercow

The wheels of a Parliament grind slow but they grind fine.

Andrew Lansley’s evidence to the Governance committee this week is very damaging to John Bercow’s prospects.

The committee was set up to look at the Speaker’s (disastrous) handling of […]

Oz Senator Accuses ‘Canberra Caterer’

An antipodean co-conspirator draws Guido’s attention to Australian Senator John Faulkner’s damning assessment yesterday of John Bercow’s choice for the next Commons clerk. Carol Mills was up before a scrutiny committee to explain why the records of $30,000 worth of […]

Mills and the Missing Paperwork
$30,000 Mystery Hangs Over Bercow’s Favourite

The Canberra Caterer is covering herself in glory again down under. Speaker Bercow’s preferred choice to be the next Clerk of the Commons has once again been hauled in front of a scrutiny committee of the Australian parliament to explain […]



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Quote of the Day

Paul Waugh asks Chuka Umunna if he wants children:

“It’s always something that my father taught me, which is really the bedrock of everything is your family and that’s true. My family and the people close to me keep me sane. Sometimes, things get blown up out of all proportion in this place and that’s always the reaction of my family, my girlfriend and my friends. I can use that to judge whether it really is that important.”

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