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 her actions.

“I feel that the standards in the department have not met the expectations that I would’ve had coming into the department nor have we been able to fix them as quickly as I would’ve liked,” says Carol Mills in regard to why the records of $30,000 worth of photographs that she commissioned from a photographer, who happened to be her neighbour, have gone missing. “It’s regrettable that we still have gaps but we’re certainly striving hard to improve systems and we’ll take any learnings… very seriously,” claimed Mills in pure management speak.

What was it about this incompetent pen pusher that so captivated the Speaker’s attention?

Perhaps This is Why Bercow is So Short-Tempered With Dave

Compare and contrast the Speaker’s own visit Down Under last month, when he only managed to half fill a small side room, to the footage of Dave stuffing the main chamber to the the rafters today. Must have hurt….

Bercow Lessons on “Straight-Dealing & Respect for Parliament”

Not content with telling off Theresa May earlier in the week, the Speaker is now very upset with Dave for announcing his new terror laws in Australia rather than in parliament:

“What people want is straight-dealing, honouring of commitments and respect for parliament.”

Perhaps unruly politicians can take a leaf out of the Speaker’s book. He was a paragon of straight-dealing and respect for parliament during the pass-gate and Carol Mills rows…

Business as Usual: Bercow Shreds the Evidence

Ask the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner to investigate an MP’s pre-2010 expenses and here is the answer you get:

“All records relating to expenses claims before 2010 have now been destroyed. No unredacted information is now available here…”

A committee headed by the Bercow has authorised the shredding of all the evidence. Another win for the ‘reforming Speaker’.

What happened to the ‘reforming Speaker’ who said in 2009, upon his election:

‘The public perception of the way we operate is so negative that it is necessary to accept a wholesale, fundamental and irrevocable change. There has to be some short-term pain in order to achieve the long-term gain of a recovery in the standing of the Commons.’

It’s business as usual.

7 Grand Slam: Bercow’s Commons Intervention for Donor

This summer the Speaker of the House of Commons netted £7,510 in donations from the Lawn Tennis Association. It’s a nice perk of the job for John Bercow to sit in the Royal Box at Wimbledon and attend two other tennis matches with no expense spared. It was equally nice of the impartial and above reproach Speaker to return the favour…

“I think the record shows that as Speaker I have taken the lead in cleaning up politics”, said Bercow in 2010. Yet, eleven days ago he took the extraordinary step of intervening in a Commons debate in order to encourage the building of more tennis courts, and promote – by name – the LTA. His donor:

16 Oct 2014 : Column 462

Oliver Colvile: The Government passed the Localism Act more than two years ago and Plymouth city council, which is controlled by the Labour party, has identified Collins park tennis courts as surplus to requirements and might well seek to build on them. It claims that it has not made a decision, but has published a planning brief. Please may we have a debate on the progress that local communities and neighbourhoods have made in protecting green inner-city areas such as mine in Plymouth?

Mr Hague: I think a debate on these issues would be most welcome to illustrate the opportunities that are now open. The Localism Act 2011 gives communities the opportunity to list valuable local assets and so far some 1,500 assets of community value have been listed. Green spaces are the second most popular listing, along with parks, village greens, open land and even, in one case, a mountain. I encourage my hon. Friend to pursue a debate on these matters.

Mr Speaker: Of course, we cannot get involved in individual planning applications, but I hope that I can be forgiven for saying that we need more tennis courts in this country and not fewer. That is a matter about which I feel very strongly, as does the Lawn Tennis Association and a great many other people besides.

The Speaker is meant to be above the fray, whiter than white and a shining example to all MPs. Any other MP caught pushing the cause of a donor without at least giving a nod to their register of interests would be hauled up to give a grovelling apology to the House.

Should Bercow be allowed to swerve the rules like this?

Speaker Greatly Weakened By Loss of ‘Key Enforcer’

Intriguingly, the now sacked Speaker’s spokesman Justine McGuinness was the only other person who was present at every meeting regarding the abortive appointment of a new Clerk of the Commons.

She’s described by parliamentary sources as “a key internal enforcer” for the Speaker.

He’s thrown his right-hand woman to the wolves.

UPDATE: The Tories have asked the Speaker to donate McGuinness’ payoff to charity:

VICTORY: Speaker’s Spokesman Resigns

Following Guido’s story yesterday about the Speaker’s spokesman abandoning her impartiality and attacking the Tories:

The spokesman needed a spokesman, and now she’s gone…

UPDATE: Here is the statement from the Commons:

“After a year in post Justine McGuinness has offered her resignation to the Speaker, which has been accepted. The Speaker thanks Ms McGuinness for her hard work and commitment over the last 12 months. She has contributed considerably to the running of the Speaker’s Office but now wishes to pursue other interests.”

Tories Demand Investigation Into Speaker’s Spokesperson
Bercow Spinner Accused of “Serious Breach” of Impartiality

The Tories are very angry about the Speaker’s official spokesperson going native and accusing them of “aim[ing] to buy the election”, a story followed up by the Mail and the Times this morning. Guido understands Tory MP Nadhim Zahawi has written to John Bercow accusing Justine McGuinness of “a serious breach of the guidance on Speaker’s impartiality.” Zahawi demands that an investigation is carried out by “one of your deputies” because of Bercow’s “close working relationship with Ms McGuinness”, so that “full confidence and transparency and upholding the integrity of your esteemed office” can been guaranteed. As Zahawi writes:

“The guidance on Speakers impartiality is clear: “The Speaker must be above party political controversy and must be seen to be completely impartial in all public matters. All sides in the House rely on the Speaker’s disinterest, and understand that he or she must stand aside from controversy.””

He concludes: “I’m sure you will agree with me Ms McGuinness’ actions constitute a serious breach of impartiality and must be urgently investigated.” Perhaps Eleanor Laing could take a look. As someone once said, when the spokesperson needs a spokesperson…

Speaker’s Spokesperson: “Tories Will Aim to Buy the Election”
Bercow’s Spinner Abandons Impartiality in Extraordinary Rant

Justine McGuinness is the official spokesperson to the Speaker of the House of Commons and a key member of Speaker’s Office, which is bound by strict impartiality rules dictating: “The Speaker must be above party political controversy and must be […]

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WATCH: Bercow Insists He’s Not Shortest Speaker Ever

Bercow has been to Australia to speak to a half-empty room about democracy in the digital age. As Guido revealed in yesterday’s Sun column, he began his speech with a reference to “one quite sensitive matter which even as […]

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Jet-Setting Bercow Heads Down Under After Iraq Debate

The recall of parliament tomorrow will have disrupted the Speaker’s preparations for a lecture he is to deliver about democracy next week, in Australia. The Times Diary yesterday quoted Bercow’s spokesperson as all but confirming he would be meeting one […]

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Has the ‘Canberra Caterer’ Conceded the Clerk Fight?

It looks like Carol Mills, John Bercow’s one time favoured candidate to become the new Clerk of the Commons, has all but given up on coming the next Clerk of the House of Commons. According to the Canberra Times, […]

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