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Cheers - AE

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Low fidelity Speaker.

Usually I don't have a lot of time for Simon Heffer. I could be mistaken but he's always struck me as being one of those people who are only conditionally for liberty, particularly when it comes to an individual's own body and what they might want to put in it. From reading Heffer's articles it seems that enjoying booze, fags and rich food is fine but other recreational drugs and genitals that look like your own are not, and for me that makes him little better than any other paternalist wanker who claims to know what's best for everybody. However, on the character of many politicians I tend to sing from the same hymn sheets, and in the case of this piece on the Speaker (more a tweeter than a woofer) John Bercow I think he's spot on.
The disgusting spectacle of this saponaceous little creep shaking hands with various expenses fiddlers as they left the House of Commons on Thursday, of his boasting that (since being rumbled for a bit of taxpayer-funded extravagance himself) he has in fact been very cheap to run, and of his gall in using the Leader of the Opposition (who, I would wager, cannot stand the sight of him) to endorse him on his website, is of a piece with the atrocious behaviour that led him to occupy the Chair in the first place. The Speakership should be an act of public service: but for Little Bercow it is simply an act of ambition.

His own party cannot stand him. The Labour party, outrageously choosing to score a political point in the aftermath of the expenses scandal, rather than to salvage the reputation of the House of Commons, thought it was frightfully funny to elect him to his post. He has neither the experience nor the gravitas to do the job properly. As he sat in his Mothercare-supplied robes, presiding over the most corrupt House of Commons for centuries, looking like a man waiting for a spot on a toadstool by an ornamental pond to become vacant, one could conclude that he and they deserved each other. But we, the electorate, have done nothing to deserve him.

Since he is notionally a Conservative, that party has no candidate against him. Nor do the Lib Dems or Labour, and they would look foolish if they did: after all, they wanted him to be Speaker in the first place. There are (so far) various independents, and a bonehead from the BNP. But there are two serious candidates: Nigel Farage, the charismatic former leader of Ukip, and John Stevens, a former MEP standing on a "democracy" ticket. I have nothing against Mr Stevens, but his politics are too bland for me. I am in no doubt that the people of Buckingham, not least to perform the public service of removing the smear of Bercow from British politics, should vote for Mr Farage.
Quite. The idea of giving the little shit a fucking free ride back to the trough on May 6th just because the Speaker is traditionally unopposed is as repellant as it would have been if it was still Gorbals Mick. More to the point, Bercow wasn't appointed to halt the gravy train but to keep it on the fucking rails, and for that alone he should go. If that's spelled out clearly enough to the Buckingham voters I'd hope that Nigel Farage could win as a result.


Anonymous said...

I've never understood this Bercow hatred. A lot of abuse is thrown in his direction, but never anything factual to back it up.

The essential anti-Bercow thesis is: Bercow is a closet socialist, elected solely to upset the Conservatives, who was elected to maintain the Commons status quo.

Yet you look at his voting record, and you find one indistinguishable from those of his Conservatove colleagues. If he is a rebel, he is no
more so than David Cameron.

Second, on his election. He won the first round on a secret ballot. We don't know who did or did not vote for him. At the second stage, where the Commons confirmed the secret ballot, he was unopposed. A single dissenting voice at this stage would have forced a vote. Yet when asked, aye or noe, whether Bercow was to be made speaker, not a single voice was raised against him.

Third, his manifesto for election as Speaker was among the most radical in terms of reform. And since election, he has delivered. He has been far quicker to tell ministers to shut up at the dispatch box and he has speeded up question time allowing more backbenchers to hold the government to account. He has openly endorsed proposals to weaken the executive and strengthen Parliament. He demanded stricter controls on expenses than those imposed by IPSA. And he is trying to stop MPs heckling each other at PMQs.

Finally, there is the double standards. In the year of
MPs expenses, Bercow is attacked for not wasting a six figure sum on ceremonial robes. In a year when the people looked with increasing horror at the antics of MPs in the Chamber, he is condemned for trying to make them act more professionally in the chamber (e.g. No heckling). His critics need to make up their mind: the status quo or reform.

Angry Exile said...

Okay, Anon, number one I'm not too concerned with whether his voting record makes him as much a modern Conservative as David Cameron because my contempt for Cameron is almost as deep as it is for Gordon Brown. Someone who rarely rebels against his party doesn't sound much like the kind of independent mind needed for Speaker if you ask me.

Number two, that the Commons lobby fodder neither objected or put up anyone else in the second round, doesn't persuade me that he's a great speaker. It just tells me he got the support of several hundred people who I generally hold in contempt for tamely doing what their parties tell them, or more likely he's got the support of the parties. I can hardly contain the joy.

Third, if Bercow's reforms count as radical then I think you're way too easy to please. I'd call it tinkering myself. Plenty of talk about tighter rules and tougher limits but the fundamental point is that expenses for Parliamentarians should be the same as they are for anyone else - reimbursement of necessary expenditure incurred as part of the job. It's that fucking simple, but if that's what Bercow is aiming for he's being awfully subtle about it. Instead he seems to be making populist but essentially irrelevant moves like banning employment spouses and family members (might please the tabloids but stupid if they're actually the best candidate for the position).

Fourth, I'll grant you that he's better at maintaining order than Gorbals Mick but from such a low starting point that was almost inevitable. Don't confuse an improvement with actually being satisfactory.

Finally, I'm really not too fussed about the whole robes bullshit and fair play to him for not getting them, but are you really trying to tell me that the price was Bercow's main concern? This is a guy who maxed out his second home claim, who did the 'flipping' trick to to avoid CGT on two properties, put a fucking tax accountant's bill on expenses, and spunked away £45K on redecorating a grace and bloody favour flat almost as soon as he was made Speaker. Again, that his predecessor may have been even more profligate isn't an excuse. The cost saving on dressing up like a tit is something we should be pleased about but I find it hard to believe that it wasn't incidental to a simple desire on Bercow's part not to look silly.

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