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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…

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