The Clerk – commonly regarded as one of the great Clerks – has only been there for two and a half years, remember. It’s a premature retirement for Sir Robert Rogers.
“It’s been very gruelling for him,” said one with a view of the action over the period. The Speaker turned against the Clerk in a very affirmative way. “Temper tantrums and childish behaviour every Monday morning. I’m not surprised he’s going, it’s exhausted him.
“The tragedy is, Robert helped the Speaker a lot in his campaign to get elected. If he (Bercow) had decided to work with him rather than against him, who knows what they could have achieved.”
Notice, the Clerk’s letter to the Speaker didn’t tender his resignation. It notified the Speaker he had already resigned (to the Queen). Nor was there any expression of gratitude to the Speaker or personal feeling towards him. An unprecedented absence.
The bullying hotline announced by Bercow will be interesting. There has been at least one complaint about him made to the internal system in the Commons – but it’s a brave person who complains to the Prince about the Prince.
Another witness said, “I wouldn’t speak to a dog in the way Bercow spoke to X (a senior member of the hierarchy).”
It’ll be interesting to see how many complaints it gets from the Speaker’s behaviour. No doubt the information will be closely held, accessible only by the highest office-holder in the Palace. Uh oh – the Speaker himself.
The Clerk of Clerks has two jobs. To be 1) head of procedure and 2) chief executive of the Commons.
The prevailing idea is to split the role into two. Some perfectly sensible people urge this (they’ll be disappointed when an outside CEO – some apparatchik who’s run an NHS trust – fails to cope with the peculiarities of the Palace of Westminster).
But the Speaker will like the idea for another reason. The job of Clerk as head of procedure is reduced enough to put in a diversity candidate who isn’t strictly speaking up to the job. It’s a sort of Lawrence Ward appointment (the Serjeant at Arms) – loyalty is more important than stature.
The Speaker will be able to push such a candidate around, as well as being able to manoeuvre the outside CEO appointed to run the estate.
It’s Divide and Rule, but yet more clever – Diminish and Rule.