Speaker’s Spokesperson: “Tories Will Aim to Buy the Election” Bercow’s Spinner Abandons Impartiality in Extraordinary Rant

Justine McGuinness is the official spokesperson to the Speaker of the House of Commons and a key member of Speaker’s Office, which is bound by strict impartiality rules dictating: “The Speaker must be above party political controversy and must be seen to be completely impartial in all public matters”. Today McGuinness addressed LibDem conference, waiving her impartiality with an extraordinary attack on the Tories, Labour and UKIP:

“The Tories will aim to buy the election with the millions of pounds donated to them by their hot money hedge fund friends. Labour will seek to steal the election, relying on an electoral system so biased in their favour that 35% of the vote could deliver them 55% of seats. UKIP will try and hijack the election by turning it into an argument about Europe and immigration as Nigel Farage swans around suburbia selling himself as some sort of suburban saloon bar Socrates.”

She was a LibDem candidate in 2005. This is going to kick up a big fuss…

WATCH: Bercow Insists He’s Not Shortest Speaker Ever

Bercow has been to Australia to speak to a half-empty room about democracy in the digital age. As Guido revealed in yesterday’s Sun column, he began his speech with a reference to “one quite sensitive matter which even as straight-talking Australians I hazard a guess your natural courtesy will disincline you to raise with me directly… that is the sensitive matter of… height.”

“It has been bruted in some of the more down-market parts of the British press that I am the shortest man ever to be Speaker… In the fairly confident expectation that there are some people who like me are vertically challenged in this audience, I say very, very explicitly, there’s nothing wrong with being short. We short people should stick together. We may be short but we may also be judged to be perfectly formed. In any case, facts are facts. I am short. I am 51 years old and remain short, and given the known impact of the ageing process upon physiognomy, the overwhelming likelihood is that I will become inexorably and irrevocably shorter still.”

Bercow went on to tell his antipodean audience that he is not the shortest Speaker ever, that particular achievement went to Sir John Bussy – Commons Speaker in 1399 – though only because he was beheaded by Henry IV. He concluded “whatever else happens to me, I am not likely to lose my head”. Watch til the end for the Speaker’s friendly acknowledgement of one audience member, a certain Carol Mills…

Jet-Setting Bercow Heads Down Under After Iraq Debate

The recall of parliament tomorrow will have disrupted the Speaker’s preparations for a lecture he is to deliver about democracy next week, in Australia. The Times Diary yesterday quoted Bercow’s spokesperson as all but confirming he would be meeting one Carol Mills on his jolly:

“He has a very tight schedule and not a lot of spare time. But Canberra is not a big place and it would be unlikely for him not to bump into her.”

To be a fly on the wall during that conversation…

Has the 'Canberra Caterer' Conceded the Clerk Fight?

It looks like Carol Mills, John Bercow’s one time favoured candidate to become the new Clerk of the Commons, has all but given up on coming the next Clerk of the House of Commons. According to the Canberra Times, Mills is sticking to what she knows best: retail.

Mills wants to launch a retail revolution up on Capital Hill, and the Parliamentary Services boss says Canberra district food, wine and crafts producers will be her foot soldiers. Ms Mills says Parliament House’s underperforming gift shop needs to be more than just a place to buy a Julia Gillard mug and the outlet should be showcasing some of the best things the ACT and region has to offer. Cash-strapped parliamentary authorities are coy about the exact figures, but say they are determined that the shop, which is understood to be barely breaking even, must pay its way.

Ms Mills told The Canberra Times that her new commercial strategy hinges on making the shop a place that reflects a trip to Canberra, not just a one-hour tour of the nation’s Parliament. “We’ve had quite a big emphasis on identifying and working with local artists and local producers, so quite a lot of their material is now exclusive to the store,” she said.”Product-wise, we’ve looked at ways where we can partner with GlassWorks and other local producers.

“We’ve also got local chocolates, local wine that promotes local wineries, I’ve been meeting with Crafts ACT to talk about how we can commission local artist to produce products for the shop.” Now that that Ms Mills’s big move to Westminster to take over the running of the British Houses of Parliament looks like it is on hold, she says she is determined to turn the Australian Parliament’s shop into a more rounded experience for visitors.

Guido would have thought she would be spending her time prepping up on our ancient parliamentary conventions and constitutional quirks if she was still planning on coming… 

Clerk Panel Knew of Mills Before She Was Suggested for Job

Carol Mills was known to “some members” of the clerk selection panel before Saxton Bampfylde put her up for interview, it was confirmed last night. So where did her name come from? Out of the hundreds – thousands – of senior administrators in the Commonwealth’s public services, how and why did Saxton Bampfylde decide to pop Carol Mills on to their long list? One suspicion is that this eminent head hunting company was hired as a blind, to make respectable a decision that had already been made. Who on the panel knew whom?

Speaker’s Authority, Competence and Integrity Challenged

Last night, an advance in the Carol Mills story.

The House voted to set up a committee to consider the Governance of the House, including the role of the Clerk and chief executive.

Who thought procedure could be so exciting?

This is a decisive step forward. The remit is wider than expected. It allows, in theory, the source of yesterday’s Bully Bercow story to be called to give evidence.

“Governance of the House” includes control of the Speaker. When the Speaker is out of control, who controls him? That’s the essence of governance.

The Speaker’s bullying, abusive behaviour is within the remit of the committee. Allegations of committee-rigging, running candidates, planting questions, fixing appointments are all within the remit. How the dickens did he let that get through?

John Bercow will be pushing his candidates onto that committee as if his life depended on it (which it may do).

Continue reading

Speaker Watch: Bercow Stitch Up Faces Committee Scrutiny

John Bercow’s clerk stitch up will face the scrutiny of a committee of MPs after the House last night passed Jesse Norman’s motion to examine the probity of the appointment. The battle lines were drawn in the debate chaired by Lindsay Hoyle: Labour’s Margaret Hodge and Gisela Stuart defended the Speaker from being subjected to “unwarranted and plain wrong” accountability, Hodge insisting “the panel thought that Carol Mills was the only candidate who was appointable to the job”. A claim directly contradicted by Andrew Lansley, who said they found several suitable names. Perhaps Hodge will be called before the committee to explain her mistake.

George Young also urged Mills to withdraw, while William Hague was absent with a belly ache. Jack Straw will chair the committee, reporting back to MPs next year. A very modest pause indeed…

SPEAKER WATCH: Bercow's Panel Turns on Him

An answer from John Thurso to Michael Fabricant’s written parliamentary question has been made.

Fabricant asked whether the selection panel had been aware of the Australian Senate’s investigations into Carol Mills, and if so, at what stage they had been informed.

Thurso replied: “the panel was not made aware of the investigations before reaching its conclusion.”

Saxton Bampfylde, the head hunters knew. The Speaker must have known. The selection panel did not.

The Speaker, determined for reasons unknown to place Carol Mills in the job, must have withheld the most salient piece of information. All the evidence suggests he prevailed on the panel not to ask Saxton Bampfylde into the room in order that they should not find out about the Inquiries.

The panel has been carrying the can for John Bercow’s machinations.

They are starting to decide they needn’t carry it indefinitely.

Continue reading

Exclusive: Former Employee Accuses Speaker of Violent Rages Will Testify: Rages Were Extraordinary, I Was Hit, Sworn At

BERCOW-HIT-STAFF

A former employee of John Bercow claims today that he was the victim of violent rages at the hands of the Speaker, in a series of extraordinary allegations about the Speaker’s conduct. Speaking to Guido, the respected senior former staff member in Bercow’s office said:

“If I was asked was I ever hit? I’d say yes.

If I was hit by bits of a mobile phone he smashed in one if his rages? Yes.

Did I witness him telling untruths to accuse people of wrongful behaviour? Yes.

Was I sworn at? Very regularly.

I witnessed catastrophic losses of temper. The rages were extraordinary. Arms flailing. The loss of control.”

Would this person go on the record at a select committee?

Yes.

Continue reading

Bercow at Bay

On Monday, the Speaker was promising to “solicit views in detail” from Members about his controversial selection of Carol Mills as Clerk of the House. “People can express their views on the floor of the House,” he said. “I want to hear what people have to say.”

Now it’s – That’s enough of that. There is no point of order further to that point of order. Let’s move on. No , no, no, la-la-la, not listening, presentation of Bills what day?

He calls his accusers in that weary, ‘here we go again’ voice, encouraging Labour to jeer and call out “Keep your hair on!” to. Michael Fabricant. For the PLP Bercow is “Our Speaker” and for that reason Bercow addresses half his rebuttals to their side, seeking their support.

Fabricant told the Speaker he’d lied to the House. He said he had it from people on the panel that Saxton Bampfylde had indeed been prevented from coming and speaking to the panel and giving information about Carol Mills. “I wonder whether, under those circumstances, you might wish to put the record straight so that the House is not misled.”

He made an ancillary point. Would the Speaker lift the threat of litigation against Saxton Bampfylde so they could publicly set the record straight?

Continue reading

SPEAKER WATCH:  It's a Question of Survival Now

How he used to suck at the udders of the House when it came to points of order. After taking half a dozen Bercow would coax, nibble, squeeze another lot out. “Any more? Anyone? Just a little one? Who’s got something for me?”

What a difference from today.

Michael Fabricant rattled his teeth with two questions. Why were recruiters Saxton Bampfylde prevented from telling the panel that Carol Mills was under two separate Inquiries in the Australian Senate? And was it the case that Carol Mills wasn’t even originally recommended by these head hunters?

The Speaker had begun the week emolliently promising a full, frank and friendly examination of all these questions. He almost snarled that Fabricant was “unfortunately but predictably wrong on both counts,” then blustered into an ad hominem attack on him for not having been in the chamber on Monday or if he had been he hadn’t asked a question but there it was and it was now time to move on.

In other words, “I am guilty as charged and if I don’t keep moving they’ll have the cuffs on me.”

Chris Pincher got even shorter shrift. He quoted an Andrew Sparrow report of “sources close to you” disparaging clerks, and…

He was shut up, told to sit down and – insultingly, some might think – told to “rise to the level of events.”

He is the rudest Speaker the House has ever had. And I speak as a connoisseur of rudeness. Bercow is in a class of his own.

Continue reading

House Turns on Speaker: Live Reaction

Looks like a turning point…

Bercow Braced for Post-PMQs Showdown

All eyes on the Speaker at today’s back to school PMQs. Yesterday Bercow scarpered before Michael Fabricant could give him a grilling and this morning he is spinning hard in the FT about how Clerk stitch up of the Clerk job isn’t a “power grab”, honest. Fabbers is hoping to be called for more Points of Order after PMQs today, and he also has a few for Hague tomorrow at Questions to the Leader of the House. There’s no getting out of it for the Speaker this time, he has submitted written questions as well:

Popcorn…

Brave Bercow Bailed Before Blonde Bombshell Bashing

That must be a record for an Urgent Question. Prolix MPs were allowed to ramble at will around the Rotherham horror. At the end an hour and a half (UQs can be over in 25 minutes) the Speaker, in Michael Fabricant’s phrase “scurried off”.

Fabricant has questions about Saxton Bampfylde’s role in the now infamous appointment. He wants to ask the Speaker, personally. Under privilege.

The Speaker will try and stop him asking those questions because the answers are probably fatal.

Someone has acted with career-ending impropriety. It’s either the head hunters or it’s their client the Speaker.

Unless the Speaker takes to his bed with Pre-Traumatic Stress we might find out whether it’s the one or the other tomorrow directly after PMQs.

SPEAKER WATCH: Bercow Kneels Before the House

Leonard Cohen on his bankruptcy tour sang whole concerts on one knee, hand extended to the audience. He really needed the money.

So it was with John Bercow yesterday evening. He knelt. He extended his palm to the Commons. “I am in the hands of and ready to be guided by the House.” He really needed the support.

How well he plays that great organ of democracy!

“My responsibility is to hear and heed them,” he said of its members.

They just didn’t have the heart to give the kneeling supplicant a jolly good beating.

That will happen – and it is still more likely to happen than not – today, the day after and next week.

It is still more likely than not he will lose the Speakership.

Jesse Norman asked gently whether he was going to withdraw the letter of appointment. He was told, “It isn’t for me to withdraw a letter but for the panel.”

Is it? Is it for the Panel? Wasn’t the Panel’s function to advise the Speaker? Whose name was on the letter of recommendation – the Panel’s or the Speaker’s?

Continue reading

ConHome Calls for Bercow's Head

John Bercow is facing growing calls to resign, with Conservative Home calling for his head in a blistering criticism of his failings his afternoon. The party’s in house journal argues “the Speaker ought to resign, for the good of the Commons”, that today’s “imitation of a u-turn… isn’t sufficient to save him”, and that following his statement today “Bercow’s position has become untenable”.

“His authority over the House as a whole has evaporated. In his statement this afternoon he was openly heckled by various MPs. His declaration that “a number of colleagues have expressed disquiet” about Ms Mills, when in reality at least 84 MPs are in open revolt on the matter, elicited a loud “Ha!” from Michael Fabricant. His proposal of a “modest pause” has been met by rebel demands for a full debate on his conduct of the affair. It’s no use suggesting this is a group of usual suspects who dislike him personally – the objectors have visibly multiplied in proportion to his misbehaviour. This is an unsustainable state of affairs, and his failure (or refusal) to satisfy his critics now threatens to disrupt the running of parliament.”

The damning piece concludes:

“He ought to go of his own accord or be made to go by MPs. We need a new Speaker who can live up to the job and restore the role to its former standing.”

If this were to snowball…

SKETCH: Bercow Does Bashful

The Speaker made his statement (of course). There was barking throughout. Never has a Speaker’s statement been heckled. Scoffing, scornful laughter on “A number of colleagues expressed disquiet.”

He said as little as possible, played it straight, modestly, firmly, with a self-deprecation mild enough to sound plausible. “My preference did not meet with sufficient support,” he said to explain why the combined post was advertised.

The management challenge was larger than it ever has been. The move out of the building and the refurbishment of the buildings was, he implied, beyond the capacity of clerks.

So, the panel chose the candidate to be both chief adviser to parliament and chief executive.

As to separating the roles “Any change would require the consent of the House.”

On the pre-appointment hearing he says he wants to hear views.

He is offering “a modest pause in the recruitment process while views are solicited in detail.”

This is the first stage of what he hopes will be an orderly retreat.

Continue reading

Bercow Clerk Statement: Full Text

Bercow has given way and delayed the Mills appointment:

“Order! Order! I wish to make a statement concerning the clerk and chief executive of the house. Currently these two roles are combined in a single post, despite their very different nature. Over the years, Parliament’s affairs have become more complex, its budget has risen and decisions such as on a potential refurbishment of the House have become unavoidable.

Thus highly skilled management is now vital as much as expertise in procedure.

My preference for separating the two aspects of the Post did not meet with sufficient support before the recruitment process and in consequence the combined position of Clark and chief executive was openly advertised.

A range of candidates were considered by an interview panel consisting of five honourable members and a lay member, Dame Julie Mellor.  

[Interruption “no deputy speaker!”]

Two rounds of interviews were conducted and at each stage the panel source to select one person who could meet the demanding twin roles both of procedural adviser to the house and of its chief executive officer. The panel reached its decision on July 30, however a number of colleagues have since expressed disquiet…

[Interruption: “HA!”]

…their concerns fall into two categories. The first, helpfully raised by the honourable member for Rutland and Melton, is whether the panel should have recommended separating the roles. I was advised that the panel could not adopt this approach without prior legislation.

As I have said, there is a compelling case for such a separation but any change would, of course, require the support of the House.

The second concern is for free appointment scrutiny and was initially put forward by the honourable member for North East Somerset. A strong case can be made for it and on this point also I wish to hear colleagues’s views. In the circumstances, and having discussed the matter with the leader and shadow leader of the House, I believe that a modest pause in the recruitment process is desirable while such issues are explored and the views of members solicited in detail. In the meantime, the functions of the clerk and chief executive will be distributed between members of the management board. I am sure the whole House will wish them well in the discharge of these important duties while the matter is resolved with good will and by consensus.”

Vid via @liarpoliticians.

UPDATE:

Bercow Statement: Will He or Won't He?

If he does not make a statement, Bercow might as well just say ‘I resign’.

12:26pm:

He can run but he can’t hide…

2:12pm:

This is being handled about as well as the Clerk job process itself…

 

Gallery Guido: Bercow Sticking to His Line

The Speaker’s position is deteriorating fast. Reports say he is sticking to his line that the recruitment process was fair, modern and followed best practice. “Previously, the outgoing Clerks handed in a piece of paper with three names on it,” as he says. […] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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

Quote of the Day

Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner:

“We have no plans to write off existing student debt.”

Sponsors

Guidogram: Sign up

Subscribe to the most succinct 7 days a week daily email read by thousands of Westminster insiders.
Sunday Shows Sunday Shows
City Confident as Hiring Rates Rocket City Confident as Hiring Rates Rocket
Watch: Best Maiden Speech of 2017 Intake Watch: Best Maiden Speech of 2017 Intake
Child Protection Investigation ‘Stalled to Help Labour’ Child Protection Investigation ‘Stalled to Help Labour’
Davis Accepts Donations from Top Blairite and TV Remainer Davis Accepts Donations from Top Blairite and TV Remainer
BBC #NotOnTheList Stars Paid Via Production Companies BBC #NotOnTheList Stars Paid Via Production Companies
Pants-Wearing Councillor Boasted He Had “Vaz in My Right Pocket” Pants-Wearing Councillor Boasted He Had “Vaz in My Right Pocket”
Champion: ‘Not Possible’ to Keep Student Debt Promise Champion: ‘Not Possible’ to Keep Student Debt Promise
BBC Rich List Revealed: Salaries In Full BBC Rich List Revealed: Salaries In Full
Torbynista Greening Loses Fight for New Money Torbynista Greening Loses Fight for New Money
New Labour Spinner Boasted of Bullying Angela Eagle New Labour Spinner Boasted of Bullying Angela Eagle
Remainers Behind Smears and Negative Briefings Remainers Behind Smears and Negative Briefings
Byline Fined For Defamation in First Impress Ruling Byline Fined For Defamation in First Impress Ruling
Freedom From Abuse Not Abuse of Freedom Freedom From Abuse Not Abuse of Freedom
Milne & Blonde Pictured in Restaurant Milne & Blonde Pictured in Restaurant
Corbyn Spends Evening With Assad Loving Genocide Denier Corbyn Spends Evening With Assad Loving Genocide Denier
Osborne Defends Blackrock’s Investment on Front Page Osborne Defends Blackrock’s Investment on Front Page
Taylor Review Hijacked by Union Sock Puppets Taylor Review Hijacked by Union Sock Puppets
Assange Lawyer Named as Milne’s Mystery Blonde Assange Lawyer Named as Milne’s Mystery Blonde