Who is the mysterious man Sally is straddling here?
Turns out someone did say it yesteday…
Susan Elan Jones (Clwyd South) (Lab):
I pay great tribute to you, Mr Speaker, for the honesty you have shown in saying that you got it wrong on the apartheid issue. I have to confess that once upon a time I stood waving a placard outside the university of Bristol union against someone who was viewed as a very right-wing member of the Federation of Conservative Students. I could not possibly name that person; suffice it to say that I think he looks rather better sat in a green chair and wearing a tie with the flag of South Africa on it.
Yes, I fear it was on 23 October 1986; I remember it only too well. I am grateful to the hon. Lady, I am sure, for reminding me.
John Bercow has decreed that today’s Commons sitting will be devoted to honouring Nelson Mandela, though he has not always been such a big fan. Former Big Brother star Derek Laud, who was a member of the Monday Club along with Bercow, claims:
“According to the club, Nelson Mandela was a “criminal” and “deserved” his prison sentence. I was alone in saying the opposite and John and his cohorts told me I only felt such a thing because I was black.”
Guido was having a little read of Bobby Freidman’s Bercow biography over the weekend. Let’s hope no one mentions the fact that Bercow was on very good terms with John Carlisle, the so-called “MP for Pretoria” who infamously said that “the system of apartheid in South Africa has worked in terms of government”. Carlisle said Bercow “broadly subscribed to what I was saying”:
“He used to ring me up to say, ‘Where are you going next, can I come?’ He knew what I was speaking on, my reputation, the opposition we would find… John would never have come on those trips if he hadn’t concurred with those views.”
On one occasion Carlisle was due to speak at the Cambridge Union, proposing an anti-sanctions motion. As the party made their way to the Union, they came across protesters waiting for them and amidst a sea of rotten eggs, Bercow started arguing back. “He loved it,” Carlisle recalls, “he was good on his feet and believed in the cause, he genuinely did.”
Let’s hope no one brings this up at Bercow’s special memorial event…
Suddenly, it’s not circus and ringmaster but chair-poking lion tamer and circling lions.
For years, John Bercow has been Labour’s Speaker. They have colluded. They meet and plot. They brief mutually.
On Monday night, Bercow was pursuing an obscure and insignificant change to standing orders and he was abandoned by the Labour Whips. Their front bench opposed him. The Motion failed and he was humiliated in the House.
John Bercow on his political love life:
“I am by choice politically celibate, but I am not a political eunuch.”
From his little throne, Bercow loves to tick off the government for leaking announcements online or in the press before they are announced in the House. Just two weeks ago he said:
“If something has been announced to the House about its future business, I would consider it courteous for the House to be informed formally of any change before the wider world is. A written statement would usually suffice, if there were not sufficient occasion or urgency to justify a supplementary business statement. I hope you will have heard the statement from the chair, to put it very candidly and bluntly these announcements should be made to the House not by the mechanism of Twitter. I think it’s pretty clear.”
So imagine Andrew Lansley’s delight when he got to make this Point of Order:
Bercow was spinning hard for jailed MPs caught fiddling their expenses during his speech to the Hansard Society last night.
“The House appeared to be little more than a cross between a rubber stamp and a talking shop which had taken to collective activity such as the imaginative interpretation of what might be a legitimate expense claim as much as an odd form of displacement activity as out of any shared sense of malice or corruption.”
Jim Devine must have submitted claims for cleaning, maintenance and printing work that the judge said were “entirely bogus”, pleading guilty to dishonestly claiming £8,385, and been jailed for 16 months because he was bored.
David Chaytor’s three counts of false accounting worth £18,000, submitting claims for the rent of a flat in Westminster which he bought in 1999 and had paid off the mortgage for in 2003, seeing him sentenced to 18 months, must have been a “displacement activity”.
Certainly no malice or corruption from Elliot Morley submitting 19 claims for excessive mortgage payments and 21 second home allowance forms for a mortgage he had already paid off. Costing the taxpayer £32,000 and seeing him sentenced to 16 months.
And what of Eric Illsley, who made false claims for his second home worth £14,000 and was jailed for 14 months.
Let’s not forget Denis MacShane, awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to false accounting. These MPs were not bored, they were crooks who were banged up for breaking the law…
Guido has always been a firm believer in Douglas Carswell’s prophecy that the “birth of iDemocracy” is key to rolling back the state:
“The West’s Big Government model is bust, things are going to have to change. It is on the cusp of dramatic changes driven by the failure of her elites, technology and maths. At the precise moment Big Government becomes unaffordable, the internet revolution makes it possible to do without it. Be optimistic. We are going to be able to manage without government – and thrive. The old political and economic order is about to give way to something vastly better.”
Well that prediction is a step closer to coming true today as the Speaker announces a Commission on Digital Democracy, with the aim of “creating a Parliament version 2.0″. It will report in 2015, Parliament’s 750th birthday, looking at how countries such as Estonia have enhanced democracy through internet voting and citizen engagement in parliamentary activity. Given that it was Carswell who knifed the last Speaker, could Bercow be trying to keep him sweet as knives are sharpened?
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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.”
Christie Malry @fcablog
Ed Miliband does photo oops, not photo ops