Inside the Commons, the four-part documentary which began screening last night, was first floated by SACPE (the Speaker’s Absurd Committee on Public Engagement). The Speaker might have assumed that he, as the patron of the project, would get the lion’s share of the glory and emerge as the public face of British democracy.
However, the programme was being put together last summer, at the same time Speaker Watch was covering – or uncovering – the row surrounding the appointment of the new Clerk and John Bercow’s descent into megalomania.
This may have informed the programme’s editing.
The first episode promotes Bercow’s critics, sceptics and opponents. Michael Fabricant, a persistent sceptic was prominent. Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker’s deputy and widely tipped successor was showcased positively. But most of all, Robert Rogers, loathed, sworn-at by the Speaker, driven from office by him, was the constitutional centre piece of the first episode.
Kate Emms, the sometime secretary to the Speaker, and (rumour has it) also hounded from her job by Bercow’s relentless persecution, is featured significantly in episode 2.
Bercow himself had an establishing shot last night. Leaning back on his throne, brooding, exuding a sense of latent and, for those who follow him, malevolent power, like a medieval prince.
If Cockerell did get the hang of Bercow during the filming future episodes could be the most remarkable piece of television.