Coffee House

PMQs highlighted the Speaker’s diminishing authority

3 September 2014

1:28 PM

3 September 2014

1:28 PM

John Bercow, the self-styled champion of Parliament, is now being scrutinised by MPs via a series of increasingly hostile points of order. The Speaker’s response to today’s barrage of points was so poor that he has put himself in jeopardy. First Simon Burns asked him about a letter to the Prime Minister recommending the appointment of Carol Mills as Clerk of the House. Bercow said the matter was ‘very straightforward’ and gave Burns a small lecture on the importance of a spirit of goodwill and consensus.

He was grumpier after the next point or order, raised by heckler Michael Fabricant:

Fabricant: ‘Mr Speaker! Why were the recruitment consultants, Saxton Bampfylde, prevented from telling the advisory panel which he referred to that the candidate, Carol Mills, was under two investigations by the Senate, and is it not the case that Saxton Bampfylde did not, I repeat did not, did not initially recommend that Carol Mills be considered?’


Speaker: ‘Unfortunately, but fairly predictably, the honourable gentleman is wrong. He’s wrong on both counts: I set out the position very clearly on Monday afternoon. It was my responsibility and privilege to respond with courtesy and in detail to points of order on that occasion, sadly it was a disadvantage to the House the honourable gentlemen was not present at that time – not during points of order in my recollection but if he was, he chose not to rise to his feet, he’s done so now, I’ve given him an answer, it’s very clear. I think that the House will want to proceed with its business.’

Then Chris Pincher raised another point of order, referring to a quote in Andrew Sparrow’s blog suggesting that many MPs did not understand the role of the Clerk. Bercow interjected:

‘Order! Order! I ask the honourable gentleman to resume his seat. It’s not normal practice to expect the Speaker to comment on any and every media report. I didn’t see the report, I’m not responsible for the report, and I do invite the honourable gentleman and members of the House as a whole, to rise to the level of events. I think perhaps we shall leave it there.’

‘Shame!’ MPs shouted. Sir Edward Leigh then told the House that it was essential for the House to uphold the authority of the Speaker. Whether or not he meant that as a supportive comment, it certainly highlights the Speaker’s diminishing authority. His dismissive responses to these points of order suggest a man lashing out as he comes under greater pressure.

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Show comments
  • swatnan

    If he had any decency he’d go now, and join UKIP. It would be a fitting way to end anyones career.

  • AJH1968

    Fellow looks like he’s giving birth to a hedgehog (an adult one).

  • scroggs

    It’s of even more concern that the politicians have now managed to elect two speakers in succession who are widely regarded with contempt. If these people cannot manage their own affairs better, how can they possibly be trusted to guide the affairs of the nation?

  • Seldom Seen

    Bercow is hanging on desperately – to anything – until his mate Milliband wins the next election

  • NJH

    “I do invite the honourable gentleman and members of the House as a whole, to rise to the level of events”.

    What Pecksniffery!

    • Utterances

      The pecksniffery of a complete cockalorum.

      • Richard

        I reject the virtue of adding “alorum” to the end of that noun there. It is redundant.

        • Utterances

          He is both.

  • jazz606


    • Geoff

      Just Google “kindle pop ups”. Loads of stuff there to try

      • jazz606

        Nothing to resolve this problem though.

    • HappyinHerts

      Really glad you mentioned this. I have phoned the Spectator about the status of Kindle subscribers in the past after being refused access to several articles I wanted to check using my laptop. Despite having subscribed through Amazon for 3 years I was told that I don’t appear on any subscriber lists and that the Spectator had no record at all of my subscriber details.
      The only remedy I was offered was to take out a subscription to the online version. Why would I want to do that when I am already subscribing to the Kindle download?

      • jazz606

        Exactly my problem. Why should Kindle subscribers be treated as second class citizens. Kindle is the most convenient way to receive the Spectator. I receive it on my iPad so get the benefit of colour for some of the quite good pictures and graphics.
        Maybe it’s amazon we should complain to. Their big enough to kick the Speccie into line.

        • HappyinHerts

          I did phone Amazon about a year ago. I spoke to a courteous but clueless young man who advised me to contact the Spectator!
          As this is a thread about Bercow I am considering taking the problem to the Speaker.

  • Terence Hale

    “Order, Order” @#&8*…..

  • toco10

    I thought Michael Martin was pretty dire but with the benefit of hindsight he was just about ok compared with the woeful Bercow.His obvious bias against certain members of The House and grossly misplaced arrogance,conceit and bitterness is a disgrace to the position of Speaker.He should resign forthwith but I am not holding my breath.

    • John Dalton

      The man is a petulant, point-scoring pigmy.

      I almost felt sorry for him when I saw the pictures of his deranged wife slu*ting around London’s nightclubs getting off with dodgy gangstas – but then I remembered that Bercow typifies the politicos that dominate our age – light-weight, left-wing and absolutely hateful of the old order which they seek to smash at every opportunity with mindless, messianic zeal.


      • Saxton Hale

        You seem to have arrived at “dodgy gangsta” based on nothing but that man in question’s skin color. I think the words you were looking for were “dance instructor”.

        • obbo12

          Nah it was the demo man on night out.

        • John Dalton

          …or maybe yet another chancer helping himself and taking full advantage, knowing there’ll be people like you falling over themselves to turn the tables on anyone who points it out.

  • Count Dooku

    Couldn’t have happened to a nicer bloke.

  • John Clegg

    My one claim to fame (or notoriety) is that little John Bercow once sat on my loo, not with me there I hasten to add.

    There has to be a succession of jokes here, I fear.

    • Hexhamgeezer

      I take it you had a child seat handy to prevent more than one turd being disposed of?

    • teepee

      Thank you for making us privy to that information.

      • John Clegg

        Well, if that’s all you’ve got to go on!!

    • Postscript

      Ordure! Ordure! Early Day Motion…