Speaker Watch: Bad Bercow’s Jesse Norman Low Blow

The Speaker has been behaving with almost perfect professionalism all this year. He knows his moment of mortal danger is approaching and is palliating his enemies in the House. But Bad Bercow can’t be kept down. He looked around the chamber this afternoon and saw his old enemy Jesse Norman (No. 14 on the order paper) not in his place. So very early, and well out of the running order, he called him. “Jesse Norman!” Nothing. “Jesse NORMAN! Is he not here?” He wasn’t going to take the chance that Norman had been momentarily delayed and would be in shortly.

Norman was a moving spirit of the Governance committee that humiliated Bercow in the fiasco of the new clerk’s appointment. “Got him!” Bercow would have thought.

The rush of applause that greeted Lindsay Hoyle taking the chair for the Budget debate shows that there is a popular contender for the position. A candidate makes the difference. Although Bercow seems to be carrying all before him, it is still possible to hope.

UPDATE: Guido understands that Norman was slightly delayed by a bicycle puncture.

Bercow Apologises to Esther McVey

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After a point of order from Tory MP Heather Wheeler, Bercow has apologised for his sexist “washing machine” jibe yesterday about Esther McVey:

“If I caused offence by what I said, I very happy apologise to that Member… It was an off the cuff remark, and may well have been a foolish one, and I apologise for it.”

Video to follow…

UPDATE:

Speaker Sexism Row: Bercow’s “Washing Machine” Jibe

 

John Bercow is facing accusations of sexism after comparing Esther McVey to a domestic appliance. The Standard reports:

He intervened when the former GMTV presenter and Wirral West MP was giving her 14th response during a work and pensions session to a question on mental health. But to the surprise of MPs, Mr Bercow then interjected: “I am reminded of the feeling when one thinks the washing machine will stop — but it does not!”

It led Ealing North Labour MP Stephen Pound to say: “A washing machine metaphor for a woman minister is seldom a good idea. Let’s see how he spins his way out of this one!”

While Angie Bray, Conservative MP for Ealing Central and Acton, also voiced consternation about the Speaker’s comment. “That’s unnecessarily rude. I’m not sure it’s for him to criticise the style in which she chooses to answer her questions,” she said.

Last year Bercow criticised other MPs for being “sexist, snobbish, yobbish” at PMQs. Once again the Speaker falls short of the standards he sets for others…

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…

Bercow’s Godless Christmas Card

Bah, humbug!

Breaking: Carol Mills DID Mislead Senate Over Spying Scandal

John Bercow’s choice for Commons clerk is facing disgrace Down Under after a committee found she provided them with “contradictory” and “misleading” information. A scathing report from the Aussie parliament’s Privileges Committee today condemns Carol Mills for “a serious breach […]

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Speaker Ejects 18 MPs From Parliament

Down Under, Aussie Speaker Bronwyn Bishop boots out 18 members from a debate for disorderly conduct, a record since Federation. Come back John Bercow, all is forgiven…[…]

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Speaker’s Spinner Eyes Up Browne’s Seat

Readers will remember John Bercow’s former spinner Justine McGuinness, who was forced to resign after Guido revealed her bizarre anti-Tory rant at LibDem conference. Where is she now? McGuinness is in the running to replace the outgoing Jeremy Browne as […]

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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 […]

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