Forgetful Bercow Trashes Former Clerk

Steve Richards has become the preferred conduit for the Speaker’s spin in the ‘Canberra caterer’ row. Having taken copy, Richard’s regurgitated it for the Guardian:

“In small ways he has attempted to move the buildings closer to the real world. There is even a creche now. Each move is met with resistance. One of the forces of conservatism was the outgoing chief clerk, Sir Robert Rogers, who had worked in the house since 1972. Rogers had an admirable commitment to the Commons in an era when it was more fashionable to view the place with casual contempt, but he resisted most of Bercow’s innovations. To give a small example, when Bercow asked for some of the younger clerks to perform the senior role of sitting in front of him in the Commons, Rogers suggested that such an elevation would be appropriate in another 10 or 15 years. Bercow did not want to wait 15 years.”

The Speaker, and thus Richards, conveniently forget though that almost everything praiseworthy Bercow has done – greater use of Urgent Questions, an increase in Standing Order 24 emergency debates and indeed splitting the role of clerk and chief executive – were all proposed by Mister Whiskers himself. For Bercow to be trashing the reputation of his erstwhile mentor shows just how dirty the cornered Speaker is willing to play.

In Full: The Damning Bercow Appointment Email

The now infamous email from the Clerk of the Australian Senate makes very clear that the issue’s around Bercow’s choice of Clerk is not one of gender, misogyny, anti-modernisation or xenophobia. The question is, can Carol Mills do the job?

CEO of the Commons? Yes. Possibly. Maybe. Hard to say when a rigged panel, a rigged process and a rigged short list produced a result the Speaker had already decided on. But Clerk? A job that is hers until she retires, as Bercow has made clear? The Times leader this morning does not think so.

Here is that email in full:

Dear Robert

We were utterly taken aback here when we saw a brief press report in early July that Carol Mills had emerged as “frontrunner” to take over from you, and have followed events with increasing disbelief and dismay. It seemed to us impossible that someone without parliamentary knowledge and experience could be under consideration for such a role. I do not usually resort to the second person, but there is not a single individual who has mentioned this to me in the past few weeks, from my most junior procedural officers or senior staff here and senators, to my State colleagues, who has not seen this candidacy as an affront to our profession and the professionalism of us all. “Bizarre” is the word most frequently used to describe the situation. I can only imagine what your staff must be thinking.

Continue reading

Tories Very Publicly Break Cover in Speaker RowMP Demands Delay in Appointment of New Clerk

He’s at it again. Tory MP Rob Wilson has written to the Leader of the House, the PM and the Speaker to very publicly blow up the row over the appointment of the new Clerk of the House:

“Media reports suggest, as does the Australian Senate website, that Ms Mill’s Department of Parliamentary Services oversaw the CCTV ‘spying’ on a senior Labor Senator’s office for the purpose of unmasking a whistle-blower and also recorded a Senator’s movements. The Senate Privileges Committee has a significant investigation underway which apparently will report early next year, March 2015.

In these circumstances, how can we possibly appoint a Clerk of the House of Commons who is under investigation for a serious breach of parliamentary privilege? Should we not await the investigation being carried out by the highly respected cross-party Australian Senate Committee?

Likewise, it is reported today that the Speaker (as a compromise to critics) is now considering a split in this historic role. I seriously doubt the merit of this proposal and agree with Sir Robert Rogers when he said: “I can’t think of more than half a dozen chief executive-type decisions that I have had to take over the last three years that haven’t had to be very closely informed by a profound knowledge of the house and what the house will take. So the two roles are inextricably intertwined.” Furthermore it would not overcome the concerns outlined above regarding Senate Committee investigation into Ms Mills.

I therefore urge you and the Prime Minister to use your good offices to find a way to block the appointment of Mrs Mills, at least until such time that matters become clearer. It could prove extremely damaging to both Parliament, and to all concerned with Ms Mills’s appointment to do otherwise.”

The Speaker will take great pleasure in swiftly replying, no doubt.

Speaker Watch: How Bercow Will Spin the Canberra Criticism

An astonishing intervention from the Clerk of the Australian parliament has put a cat – or a tiger – among the pigeons.

The selection of Carol Mills for the £190,000 job of presiding over parliamentary procedure was described by the highest officer in the Australin parliament as bizarre. An affront. An embarrassment.

You need a peculiarly corkscrew vision to see into the Speaker’s ways. His appointment of a chief clerk who knows nothing about clerking is a fine example of his twistiness.

Australian Carol Mills, director of facilities in Canberra parliament, was appointed to the £190,000 job by a panel selected – unprecedentedly – by the Speaker.

The appointment has been gathering controversy over the summer recess for more reasons than one. It’s a power grab. The process was improperly managed. It’s an example of his policy of Diminish and Rule. It’s effectively abolishing the position of Chief Clerk. It has astonished the Commons.

Opposition is gathering on all sides. Labour, Tory, male, female, legal and parliamentary.

But let us look ahead. The Speaker wants to present this row as Tory men opposing any attempt to modernise the House of Commons.

Criticism of Carol Mills will be spun by him as evidence of misogyny and conservative reaction. He wants it to be seen as a battle between Labour women and Tory men.

Yesterday’s story in the Mail on Sunday undermines this cunning plan. The testimony of the clerk of the Australian Senate attacks the appointment on grounds of professionalism and experience.

Clerk Rosemary Laing wrote:

“We were utterly taken aback when we heard Carol Mills was front-runner to replace Sir Robert Rogers and have followed events with disbelief and dismay.

“It seems impossible someone without parliamentary knowledge and experience could be under consideration for such a role. It is bizarre and an affront.”

This is not a battle for female equality. This is a display of the Speaker’s increasingly erratic campaign against his ancestral enemies, the ones who snubbed and snobbed him in his youth.

Leave his pathology to one side.

Has he considered the effect of this appointment on Carol Mills herself?

She will have been lured out of her depth. Tempted out of her circumference. Brought in to operate in an intensely alien environment by the Speaker’s assurances, his guarantees and under his protection.

Australian women have particular qualities of gutsiness, plain speaking and focusing on outcomes, unconstrained by precedent and convention. She may survive this.

But if she fails, she will serve the Speaker’s purposes just as well. Her martyrdom will help the Speaker’s long war against his enemies.

He has destroyed the career of more than one official. And Carol Mills wouldn’t’t be the first woman to be properly damaged by him, either.

Bercow’s £1,300 MP Funeral Bill on Expenses

Guido couldn’t help but feel the taxpayer had been short-changed when he read in today’s Sun that John Bercow claimed £1,300 on expenses to go to Paul Goggins’ funeral. A worthwhile trip perhaps, but could he not have done it cheaper? Guido decided to find out.

The Speaker charged us £45 for a car from parliament to Euston station and £67.50 for the return journey the following day. A quick browse of Guido’s Uber app (other free market-supporting smartphone-friendly cheap car travel services are also available) shows we could do the journey for a tenner each way.

Bercow did much better on his train journey. He billed £239.10 for him and two staffers to get up to Manchester, the standard fare. Though when he got to Manchester, the Speaker inexplicably blew £500 on cars across the city. Since the trip was only meant to be for a church service and then the funeral, Guido struggles to see why he spent so much on taxis. We reckon we’d have spent £50 at the absolute maximum.

Finally, Bercow put himself and his staffers up at the posh Park Inn by Radisson hotel at a cost to the taxpayer of a cool £364. There are plenty of budget hotels well situated in Manchester. Guido chose the Ibis Budget, which would have given us three rooms for £96.

Bercow total: £1,290

Guido total: £405

Every little helps…

Bercow Fails to Clear Up Pass Row at Second Time of Asking

The Speaker has finally replied to Rob Wilson’s detailed questions about the probity of his pass-for-donor arrangement, and once again he is choosing his words very carefully. The question of what access Farah Sassoon has to the parliamentary estate is particularly troublesome for Bercow. He claims that “this pass has restrictions on it which are tailored to the circumstances for which the pass is required and will not activate proximity readers inside the Palace.” As anyone familiar with parliament will know, a free run from an entrance all the way through to Speaker’s House would give the passholder significant access to wider parts of the estate. 

Bercow has now had two opportunities to explain himself, and still he has failed to do so. If Farah Sassoon has no commercial relationship with Sally, why is she going around parliament telling MPs she does? How is it possible for her pass to only grant her access to Speaker’s House and not the wider parliamentary estate? And does he think it is appropriate to award special access to parliament to a woman who is funding his re-election campaign? His evasive answers hardly set an example fitting for the Speaker…

UPDATE: The Telegraph have yet more questions for Bercow:

Speaker’s Choice for Commons Clerk Faces Oz Spying Scandal

Carol Mills, the Speaker’s choice for the new Chief Clerk of the Commons (salary £190,000 pa), has good reason to want an escape route from her current job down under. The Australian parliament’s Department for Parliamentary Services, run by Mills, has just been placed under investigation by the authorities in Oz. Earlier this year Mills confessed that her department may have used CCTV cameras to spy on a whistleblower and a Labor senator. The report into the scandal is due early next year, by which time Mills should have settled in at Westminster…

There’s something fishy about this entire selection process. If the Speaker particularly wanted the job to go to a woman, why did female clerk Phillipa Helm not even get on the long list? Bercow may have thought she didn’t have enough experience to clerk the Commons – but then he arranged the appointment of someone who has no experience of Commons clerking at all.

How did Carol Mills surface? Was she approached directly by the Speaker? There are rumours that the outside candidates were given improper information about their chances. And how will MPs react to a foreign administrative functionary with no experience of the Commons sitting in the Clerk of Clerks chair? If this is reform, the reforming Speaker may find himself increasingly isolated.

Tory MP: This Isn’t About Getting Bercow

Tory MP David Morris, who revealed that Bercow’s financial backer Farah Sassoon posed as a Labour adviser while drinking on the Commons terrace, rejects the Speaker’s paranoid accusations that this is all a mean right-wing plot to get him:

“I think he’s a marvellous Speaker and a great bloke, but I worry about why we have someone purporting to be a Labour aide roaming the estate. She told me that she advised Miliband on ‘media issues’.”

Meanwhile, Bercow is taking his time to reply to the latest series of questions about that donation and that pass. Choosing his words carefully?

Speaker Slips Into Paranoia

John Bercow has responded to increased scrutiny by briefing against his imaginary enemies to the Observer. An “ally” – in all liklihood himself or his spokesman – says he is being targeted because he is a “reforming Speaker, and some people don’t like that”, while “sources close to him” say asking for a simple explanation constitutes a “rightwing hatchet job”.[…]

+ READ MORE +

Speaker Probed on Sally Pal’s ‘Agent’ Boast

John Bercow will be delighted to have been given another chance to explain himself after he dodged questions about his pass-for-donor mystery. Rob Wilson has this afternoon also asked the Speaker to comment on why Farah Sassoon has been going around telling people she is Sally’s agent:

“I do note however, that you did not answer my final question fully and it would be helpful for you to do so.

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Speaker Responds… Sort Of Bercow Answers Raise More Pass-for-Donor Questions

John Bercow has replied to Rob Wilson’s letter, and once again the Speaker’s response raises more questions than it answers. Bercow has largely rehashed the statement his spokesperson gave to the press on Wednesday, failing to giving any explanation for why he gave a pass to a woman who is funding his re-election campaign:

Bercow says the pass only permits Sassoon access to Speaker’s House, so why is she so often seen elsewhere on the parliamentary estate, most obviously on the terrace?[…]

+ READ MORE +

Tory Secretary of State Ups Ante in Bercow Pass Row ++ Grayling: “Passes Should Not Be Given Out Lightly” ++ ++ Justice Secretary Says Right That Speaker Faces Questions ++

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has weighed into the row over why John Bercow gave a parliamentary pass to a woman funding his re-election campaign. Responding to a question from Guido at his press conference this morning, Grayling warned:

“It’s certainly the case that passes to the House of Commons should not be given out lightly.

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Labour Distances Miliband From Dodgy Bercow DonorDenial that Sassoon is “an Adviser” to Ed, Despite Her Claims

cash

A spokesman for Ed Miliband tells Guido that Ed has met Farah Sassoon on several occasions “socially”, but that she is in no way an adviser to the Labour leader, despite her claims to the contrary.

Sassoon says she does different things when she meets different people, at different times in the evening.[…]

+ READ MORE +

Sally’s Pass Pal Claimed to be ‘Agent’ and ‘Miliband Adviser’Mystery Over Farah Sasson’s Donation and Access Grows

The row over Bercow’s donation/pass mystery is escalating. Tory MP Simon Burns has weighed in:

“I do not quite see why at the request of the wife of the Speaker a friend should be given a pass to the House of Commons – in that they are not usually given to MPs’ friends.

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Bercow Fails to Explain Donor Mystery

bercowGuido’s story in the Sun on Sunday revealing John Bercow’s donation from a businesswoman to whom he gave a parliamentary pass makes the front page of this morning’s Mail. At the weekend a spokesperson for the Speaker refused to confirm Sally’s drinking pal Farah Sassoon was granted a pass.[…]

+ READ MORE +

Tory MP Probes Speaker’s Passholder Donation Mystery

On Sunday Guido revealed that John Bercow is facing accusations of ‘cash for access’ over a curious donation from a businesswoman to whom he gave a parliamentary pass. For any other MP such an arrangement would provoke suggestions of impropriety. Today Tory MP Rob Wilson has sought clarification from the Speaker, with a view to potentially reporting him to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards:

Dear Mr Speaker,

I am writing to you today to raise the concerns of several of my constituents about an item in Guido Fawkes’ column in the Sun on Sunday.

[…]

+ READ MORE +



Tip offs: 0709 284 0531
team@Order-order.com

Quote of the Day

Recently unresigned Sarah Champion on Corbyn:

“Jeremys [sic] position is no longer tenable if we’re to be effective”

Guidogram: Sign up

Subscribe to the most succinct 7 days a week daily email read by thousands of Westminster insiders.

Facebook

LILY COLE FRONTS BBC “CEO SECRETS” SERIES AFTER RUNNING COMPANY INTO GROUND LILY COLE FRONTS BBC “CEO SECRETS” SERIES AFTER RUNNING COMPANY INTO GROUND
Guardian Media Group’s Losses Total £173 Million Guardian Media Group’s Losses Total £173 Million
MCGINN WHIPPED LABOUR MPS TO “KEEP UP THE PRESSURE ON JC” MCGINN WHIPPED LABOUR MPS TO “KEEP UP THE PRESSURE ON JC”
VICTORIA’S SECRET LINGERIE AND 5 STAR HOTELS: WELSH GOVT’S £7.5 MILLION CREDIT CARD SPEND VICTORIA’S SECRET LINGERIE AND 5 STAR HOTELS: WELSH GOVT’S £7.5 MILLION CREDIT CARD SPEND
OWEN SMITH HIRES TOP PFIZER LOBBYIST TO RUN CAMPAIGN OWEN SMITH HIRES TOP PFIZER LOBBYIST TO RUN CAMPAIGN
HAMMOND FIBS AND SAUDI SLAVERY SLIPPED OUT ON DUMPING DAY HAMMOND FIBS AND SAUDI SLAVERY SLIPPED OUT ON DUMPING DAY
MATTHEW ELLIOTT ON WHY LEAVE WON MATTHEW ELLIOTT ON WHY LEAVE WON
OSBORNE GIVEN “SH*T” ROOM WITH NO VIEW OSBORNE GIVEN “SH*T” ROOM WITH NO VIEW
5,000,000 SIGNATURES: FEW POLICY CHANGES 5,000,000 SIGNATURES: FEW POLICY CHANGES
CORBYNISTAS USED CODE TO HIDE CASH-FOR-VOTES PLOT CORBYNISTAS USED CODE TO HIDE CASH-FOR-VOTES PLOT
First Lady Michelle Obama Carpool Karaoke First Lady Michelle Obama Carpool Karaoke
PMQ’s Sketch PMQ’s Sketch
How to Reach Westminster Politicians How to Reach Westminster Politicians
OWEN SMITH’S 999 EMERGENCY OWEN SMITH’S 999 EMERGENCY
MELANIA BORROWS FROM MICHELLE MELANIA BORROWS FROM MICHELLE
MAY: I WOULD PRESS NUCLEAR BUTTON MAY: I WOULD PRESS NUCLEAR BUTTON
New Uber Rival Tries to Get Unions Onside New Uber Rival Tries to Get Unions Onside
SMITH’S £200 BILION “NEW DEAL” PLEDGE BUSTED BY MCDONNELL SMITH’S £200 BILION “NEW DEAL” PLEDGE BUSTED BY MCDONNELL
CONGRATULATIONS MR AND MRS UMUNNA CONGRATULATIONS MR AND MRS UMUNNA
UKIP SEEKING TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF “OILY” SMITH UKIP SEEKING TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF “OILY” SMITH