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The ‘Buckingham Bonaparte’ is cornered

22 August 2014

8:41 AM

22 August 2014

8:41 AM

With the interventions of former Speaker Betty Boothroyd, ex-ministers — including Jack Straw, Malcolm Rifkind and Margaret Beckett — and the Clerk of the Australian Senate, Rosemary Laing, it is becoming increasingly hard for John Bercow to spin the fight over his choice for the replacement Commons clerk as a row with his ‘usual suspect’ critics.

Yesterday’s Times leader could not have been any clearer:

‘Mr Bercow has done some good things as Speaker, and some of these would not have happened without his prickly personality. He has not minded irritating the executive by allowing more time to debate topical controversies. Yet he should beware of thinking that annoying everyone means he must be doing everything right.

‘A Speaker relies on the consent of the Commons to respect his or her authority. They are there to ensure free debate and good decision-making. They should avoid becoming the story itself. There has always been the feeling about Bercow that he rather too much enjoys the attention that his cussedness brings. On this occasion, he should show that he is willing to listen to others and make another appointment.’


We should not hold our breath, though. Bercow’s biographer Bobby Friedman tells Mr Steerpike that the widespread condemnation will, in all likelihood, only strengthen the Speaker’s belligerent streak:

‘Bercow’s instinct is always to dig in his heels when he’s cornered or faces opposition. It’s a real political weakness that he seeks to punish people who disagree with him, rather than trying to broker a solution. Instead of building bridges with David Cameron, he cuts him off in mid-flow at PMQs. He seeks to publicly humiliate Tory MPs who oppose his Speakership, making the problem even worse for him. And when people opposed his appointment of Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin as Commons Chaplain, he redoubled his efforts to appoint her.’

It is not for nothing that Bercow’s former colleagues on the Tory back benches call him the the ‘Buckingham Bonaparte’.

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Show comments
  • David Prentice

    Sally wants the Australian women as a token “middle finger” to the “establishment”. I imagine it’s the doggy box for little John if it doesn’t happen.

  • Fenman

    Knew he was a major problem once that senile leftie ken Clark praised him. But, I wd not rely on Cameron showing any balls,unless, of course he thinks there are votes in it.

  • The Masked Marvel

    Bercow’s mistake was not selecting a Muslim woman. It would be impossible for Cameron to object.

  • gelert

    Many countries will only give work permits when there is no qualified national to do the job. How can this woman, with no experience, be better suited than the current Deputy Speaker ?

    • derekemery

      Since when did you need to know anything or have any relevant skills to get a job in Parliament. You need to understand the new equality based points scoring system;
      She’s not Scottish -1000 points
      She’s not British +1000 points
      She’s not English +2000 points
      She’s not a man +5000 points
      She’s a woman +5000 points
      She knows nothing about the job + 10,000 points
      Chance of legal action +30,000 points.
      Remember all politicians fear legal action for one reason or another so its good to have someone who understands.
      She does lose out -500 points for being able to speak and understand English as this has prevented a skilled interpreter from having a £100K job. Its very discriminatory that parliament only employs people who speak English.

  • Smithersjones2013

    Yep Bercow will go down as that nasty little squirt with that appalling woman as his bride.

  • Major Plonquer

    Just for the record it’s impertinent-and totally wrong for people to claim that just because this woman is Australian, she is descended from English criminals. No! This is an insult and it’s just plain wrong. She’s descended from the slow English criminals who got caught! So is Rupert Murdoch. (This last observation included for “balance”.)

    • Barakzai

      “(This last observation included for “balance”.)”

      I thought ‘balance’ was to express support, directly or indirectly, for Hamas at every opportunity. Or am I watching and listening to too much BBC news coverage?

  • edward

    The issue is neither Dave nor Mr Hague have the will required to stand up to Bercow so this appointment will most likely go through.

    • Frank

      Probably sharing a motel bedroom somewhere.

      • gelert

        With Bercow ? Shome, mishtake, shurely ?

      • edward

        I concur with your reply on the Hannan article. I hope he gets booted out with the other tory traitors.

  • rugby god

    more bellend than Bonaparte!

  • Mark McIntyre

    Whether the ‘Buckingham Bonaparte’ or more simply the Poison Dwarf – JSB has become a pariah to just about everyone !
    Cameo has the ‘power’ to unseat him – has he not ? – simply by allowing a Conservative Candidate to stand in the Buckingham seat at the next General Election ??
    It would beggar belief if ‘Posh boy Dave’ fails to allow for this next year.

    • RobertC

      JSB is doing more damage than a JCB could ever do.

  • swatnan

    We haven’t heard from Nadine Dories, yet.

    • Frank

      She is madly keen on Boris – which tells you all you need to know about his candidature to be the next Tory leader!

  • Greenslime

    Odious runt! (I hope I spelt that correctly)

    • Inverted Meniscus

      Nearly there. You need to work on your choice of consonants.

  • Peter Stroud

    Surely the odious little twit can be removed?

  • MajorFrustration

    Bercow should have been politically snuffed out years ago. Doubt if Dave will do anything other than hope the problem goes away.

    • Andy

      Blame the Fascist Labour Party for this. They got him elected because they thought it was a jolly way to stuff the Tories. There were far better people who could have been made Speaker after Gorbels Mick made such a mess.

      • Mark McIntyre

        Indeed. There be so many problems caused by AND remaining from those Liebore years – it cannot surely be the case that the British electorate want another Liebore Government next year ?

        • foto2021

          The British people may not want another Labour government.

          The problem is they want a ConDem coalition even less, and a Conservative government even less than that.

          • Andy

            Well they are going to get one.

  • Andy

    He cannot be allow to get his way on this. The woman is totally unsuitable for the role – she has no knowledge of Parliamentary procedure. He is just being an idiot. Anyway this is a Crown appointment and only the Queen can make it, so if Cameron has any balls at all he will decline to forward the name to Her Majesty. Bercow can resign in protest.

    • Frank

      Agreed, plus it is extraordinary that this woman should get a work visa given that she brings no prior experience of half of the role (knowledge of parliamentary procedure – how could she given that she has not worked in the House of Commons) and given that there are candidates here who have precisely that experience (and if this is simply about promoting women, Britain really does have plenty of home-grown women).
      The Home Office should make it clear that they will not be granting her a work visa for those reasons.
      The Home Office route will be easier for Cameron as he appears to lack the masculinity to stand up for anything.

      • Peter Stroud

        You are certainly right about Cameron. I think Theresa May is likely to welcome the opportunity of scoring a point against the Berc.

        • Frank

          Having thought about it, can I ask whether it actually matters? We have all this flim-flam – the state opening of parliament, the speaker, the deputy speaker, the sergeant at arms, the high bottle washer, the chief cake cutter, etc, etc, it all costs billions and what do we get? Deeply inadequate venal parliamentarians / peers, with vast chunks of our legislation decided in Brussels and a civil service / FCO / MOD / NHS of very low quality.
          We should just bulldoze the lot, demote all the peers, bin all the quaint posturing / traditions, and get a sodding grip. This country is going / has gone to the dogs and our elected members had better sort it out before a very passive put-upon nation rises up and defenestrates the lot of them.

          • RobertC

            Read your own, earlier, post! 🙂

            ‘She’ has NO “knowledge of parliamentary procedure – how could she given that she has not worked in the House of Commons”

            If you want Parliament to function properly, as it used to, it needs someone with a grasp of procedure.

            • Frank

              Robert, I agree, but I just think that it is all too far gone for this one job to make any difference.
              According to the Spectator, Britain is poorer than any American state than Mississippi (and has the lack of morals / ethics to match).
              I do hope that all our senior politicians since 1945 feel really proud of what they have done to this country.

          • Major Plonquer

            it all costs billions and what do we get?
            Several billion pounds a year from tourism. And what do you contribute?

            • Frank

              I dunno, useless stuff like serving in the army, and setting up and running profitable businesses which employed lots of people.
              I am glad that you think that the revenue from tourism in some way makes up for the hopeless government we have had since 1945.

          • Andy

            Oh it matters. It matters a lot. You might have a sniffy attitude to our Customs, by they are there for a reason. It is the checks and the balances that keep us free from dictatorship. What is important isn’t the power that an office has, but it is how that power is restrained and limited.

    • Blindsideflanker

      Cameron has already intimated that he is going to capitulate to Bercow, claiming that there are no grounds on which he can object to the appointment, which to me sounds like a load of rubbish. Cameron probably likes the idea of a woman getting a job where some male candidates are better qualified for the position.

      The worst thing to happen is for people to object and then Bercow gets his way, if he is a pompous prat now, he will be insufferable if he gets his way.

      • RobertC

        That is true, though!

        Many can, but not Cameron, even when he is told by the more informed, and bold.

        Just think how he will ‘perform’ when negotiating our new relationship with the EU.

    • Chris Morriss

      Big grins all round then!