Speaker Watch: Lansley Wounds Bercow

The wheels of a Parliament grind slow but they grind fine.

Andrew Lansley’s evidence to the Governance committee this week is very damaging to John Bercow’s prospects.

The committee was set up to look at the Speaker’s (disastrous) handling of the appointment of chief Clerk of the Commons. As Guido pointed out early in the year, it was clear that Bercow was operating a policy of Diminish and Rule to increase his suffocating grip on Commons life.

Abolishing, or massively diminishing, the office of Clerk would give him unrestrained access to the powers and budgets of department heads.

Andrew Lansley confirmed in evidence that Bercow ran the recruitment as if it was his own personal process (in our view, to appoint the one person he had in mind from the outset).

Bercow overturned three important Commission decisions on his own say-so.

1 ) To run the recruitment on the same basis as the previous appointment was made.
2) Not to employ headhunters.
3) To require the candidate to have “detailed knowledge” of parliamentary procedure.

Carol Mills, the Speaker’s preferred candidate – entirely ignorant of Commons procedure – would have fallen at the first hurdle, had Bercow abided by the Commission’s consensus.

So he created the conditions for an entirely new sort of clerk and chief executive – one who would have been at his personal beck and call.

Had he succeeded, the Commons administration would have become more capricious and less professional than ever.

What a study in political pathology the fellow is. But the Commons is slowly wising up to him.

His current “best behaviour ” shows he fully understands the danger he is in.

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