Thursday, May 8, 2014

SPEAKER WATCH:  Bercow Gets His Weapon

What pervasive influence the Speaker has in the Commons, and how systematically he is extending it.

Is it proper that he chairs a debate on further increasing his own powers?

That sort of consideration is a nicety now, as fastidious as crooking one’s little finger on a teacup.

Andrew Lansley brought the proposal to the House to allow the Speaker to call four Amendments to the Queen’s Speech.

Not a move to restrict Mr Speaker from calling amendments, he said, but to give certainty. Because one reading of Standing Orders (the Speaker’s) suggested he might call unlimited amendments to the Queen’s Speech. So he is giving certainty by restricting Mr Speaker from calling amendments by increasing the number of amendments he can call.

There are times when procedural debate is a snake swallowing its own tail.

Charles Walker, chair of Procedure committee and a senior placeman in the Speaker’s party, brokered this proposal and congratulated “a certain maturity” in the Leader’s office in accepting it. He really must have got knocked about at school.

Angela Eagle described it as “a welcome Government climbdown in the face of defeat.” She welcomed it “with a little snigger”. She recalled the rebel amendment to the Queen’s Speech, signed by130 MPs, and described it as a “humiliating blow to the PM’s authority.”

It is entirely possible to agree. And to see how the extra power will allow the Speaker to organize behind the scenes further “humiliating blows to the PM’s authority”.

And with what relish will he put himself to the task.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Bercow Returns Favour for Campaign Manager
PM Joins Tory MPs in Openly Mocking the Speaker

Bercow and Julian Lewis have been thick as thieves for decades so it was no surprise to see the Speaker call his old campaign manager at PMQs, despite the Defence Select Committee Chairman wannabe not being on the order paper. No surprise either to see Lewis asking about Nato and Defence spending. You might imagine the other candidates will be a little miffed with such a blatant favouritism at a time of heightened campaigning. Lewis may well be picking up a lot of Labour support due to his opposition to intervention in Syria, but being Bercow’s Boy will hardly endear him to Tory backbenchers…

UPDATE: Tory MPs took the mick out of the Speaker so much when his old nemesis Simon Burns rose for a question that he had to intervene. The PM even joined in the mocking.

Another great day at the office.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

How the Evans Accusations Ended Up in Court

Sarah Wollaston’s role in the Nigel Evans saga can now be fully explained. The Guardian have done a pretty good round up:

“At first, the alleged rape victim told no one what happened. He used his iPad on the train home from Evans’s cottage to search for rape and sexual assault support, but quickly distracted himself with his 12,000-word dissertation. He was not to know that around the same time his friend – the other key complainant – made what he described as an “off-the-cuff remark” to Wollaston about his own encounter with Evans.

The impromptu conversation, over glasses of wine in a Westminster bar, was crucial and triggered a chain of events involving the police.

A month later, in April 2013, the alleged sexual assault victim confided in more detail to Wollaston in a one-on-one meeting, and she decided to set up an urgent meeting with the Commons Speaker, John Bercow. Shortly before the meeting with Bercow, Wollaston’s phone rang. It was the alleged rape victim who, for the first time, gave her his account of what happened when he had slept at Evans’s cottage in Pendleton a month earlier.

Wollaston, a GP with 20 years’ experience including a spell working as a police forensic examiner where she dealt with victims of sexual and domestic violence, told Bercow about both complaints against Evans at a meeting in the Speaker’s office, where Bercow’s secretary and the alleged sexual assault victim were also present.

Bercow said it was for the young man to decide whether he should take the matter to police. A meeting with the alleged rape victim was scheduled for the following week but, following legal advice from the Speaker’s counsel Michael Carpenter, Bercow’s secretary informed Wollaston that the Speaker “cannot handle this”.

Wollaston, frustrated by the response from Bercow’s office, took the matter into her own hands and passed a police telephone number to both men, telling them they had a duty to come forward and ensure Evans was apprehended before any other young men were assaulted.”

And the rest is history…

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

WATCH: I Am Bercow, Hear Me Roar!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Speaker’s Little Helpers: Bercow’s Bill Hits £2m

When John Bercow was elected Speaker in 2009, his campaign team said:

“The Speaker can either be a road block to reform or an agent of reform and change and there’s no doubt about it that John Bercow will be that agent of change.”

After five years in the £142,000 job, the only thing that has changed is the size of Speaker’s bill. Not happy with just his coat of arms, Bercow has grown his team to a nine-strong entourage of helpers at a cost of £383,000 a year. As Guido revealed in yesterday’s Sun, they include a £42,000 train-bearer whose job it is to carry his ceremonial cloak:

  • Speaker’s Secretary: up to £93,380
  • Assistant Speaker’s Secretary: up to £61,255
  • Chaplain: up to £61,255
  • Trainbearer: up to £42,401
  • Diary Secretary: up to £35,723
  • Personal Secretary: up to £29,330
  • Secretary: up to £29,330
  • Ad hoc Adviser: up to £15,512
  • Cleaner: up to £15,042

Add that to the £37,500 a year on jet-setting around the world and his £8,000 annual expenses bill and Bercow has creamed the taxpayer for more than £2 million since 2010. The ‘agent of reform and change’ is hardly short changed…

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Stewards’ Inquiry: Can You Hear ‘Crackerjack’ at PMQs?

A steward’s inquiry is required to determine if Guido’s tip that the word ‘Crackerjack’ would be said during today’s PMQs came good. As Nadine Dorries congratulated the Speaker for his new role as chancellor of Bedfordshire University, Guido reckons you can hear the word being uttered in the background. So will Paddy Power be paying out?

3/1 for Crackerjack to be Said at PMQs with Paddy Power

Will MPs be able to resist the temptation to shout out “Crackerjack” at today’s PMQs? Over at the Paddy Power blog, Guido gives you a run-down of the best betting available for today’s session. It’s Wednesday, it’s twelve o’clock, it’s PMQs!

UPDATE:

@MsSallyBercow Tweets Sally in Rehab

Sally-Berow-2461841

Late last night an account purporting to be that of Sally Bercow tweeted:

“SB friend for 20 yrs & she asked i tweet 4 her- she in spa/rehab”.

The Speaker’s Office declined the opportunity to comment. Sally was not immediately available at the time of going to pixel…

UPDATE: Sally claims she was hacked. Again. Odd given she was tweeting Andrew Pierce at the time…

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Non-Public School Tory MPs Slam ‘Tit’ Bercow
“Mr Speaker is trying to distract from his domestic troubles”

It’s safe to say that the Speaker’s comments about PMQs have gone down badly with the Tories: “Bercow allows questions that are nothing to do [with] policy,” one payroll MP ranted to Guido, “letting Miliband go on and on and on, when it’s not actually questioning the PM on policy, just party political pops. So what does he expect?”

Guido contacted some non-public school Tories, who seem particularly incensed by Bercow’s allegations of “yobbery and public school twittishness”:

“He really is a tit. Calling us all public schoolboys shows [how] out of touch he is with his old party because most of us really aren’t. I’m surprised he can walk straight with that massive chip on his shoulder and he really needs to get over his little man syndrome.”

Another takes a subtler tone:

“PMQs is boisterous and passionate, and I would take passionate politics over bland politics any day. The idea that it is ‘male’ and ‘public school’ is obvious nonsense – I’ve never noticed a difference in behaviour from female MPs or non-public school MPs. These are just lazy accusations to lob into the discussion. MPs sometimes shout because they care passionately. That’s not a bad thing.”

The claws are out though, with one Cameron uber-loyalist really putting the boot in:

“Obviously Mr Speaker is trying to distract from his own domestic troubles.” 

Most MPs contacted refused to give quotes due to the way in which they feel Bercow has “politicised his office” and they want to be able to “ask a question this side of the election”. It has not gone unnoticed though that Bercow waited for a week when all the MPs were all away before he dropped his comments attacking them. That should only delay the whispering campaign…

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

WATCH: Bercow Flips Out

Something seemed to be troubling the Speaker at PMQs today. He boiled over during one exchange, completely losing it with Michael Gove. And to think the Education Secretary’s better half Sarah Vine was so nice about Sally in the Mail this morning…

Via @liarpoliticians

Seen Elsewhere

What if a Hamas Rocket Hit a BA Plane? | Richard Littlejohn
Sunday Sport Swearing Style Guide | Popbitch
Tory MP’s Love of Astrology | BBC
No.10 Shouldn’t Get Excited at Growth Figures | Mark Wallace
Feminist Lobby Killing Meritocracy | Kathy Gyngell
David Ward is a C**t | Iain Dale
Britain Should Follow Kansas’s Tax Cutting | Jeremy Warner
Dave’s Chums Who Made Millions From Putin | Mail
Now Osborne Must Cut Taxes | Mail
Britain’s Recovery Outstrips the World | Times
Ruffley Could Be Suspended From Commons | Telegraph


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New Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has big ambitions in his first meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu today:

“I came to bring this conflict to an end.”



Flight Watch says:

Russia Today is a cauldron of bullsh*t. The only people that take it seriously are deluded conspiracy theorists. Other RT journos have resigned citing the same reasons.

It’s about as believable as Press TV, KCNA of North Korea or the Daily Mirror.


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