James Forsyth

Speaking out against Bercow

Speaking out against Bercow
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The vast majority of Tory MPs do not want John Bercow to be Speaker; I’ve only spoken to one who favours his candidacy. The Tories complain that Labour’s support for Bercow is a plot to appear bi-partisan while actually being crudely political.

Today’s Mail on Sunday editorial is a punchy expression of this viewpoint:

“It appears Gordon Brown and the Labour machine are seriously considering the officially Tory - but increasingly New Labour - MP John Bercow for the Speakership.

Leaving aside the weirdly flexible Mr Bercow's questionable qualifications for the post, this plan is actually disgraceful, and a sign that the Prime Minister and his circle have learned little, or nothing, from the events of the past few weeks.

It is low politics, plainly designed as vengeance on the Tories for bringing down a Labour Speaker.

And it is also full of mischief, in the hope of leaving a future Tory Government with a Speaker who is nominally sympathetic, but actually hostile.

Given the great danger that the revelations of greed among MPs will damage Parliament itself, the choice of Mr Bercow would be worse than folly.

It would be an affront to the electorate and an abuse of MPs' remaining power”

Whatever qualities Bercow has—and he has a fantastic memory and a good speaking voice, two important qualifications for the role—he lacks what the next Speaker must have: respect from all sides of the House. Indeed, I don’t think there is a candidate yet who fulfils this criterion but also has the right ideas about transparency and standing up for Parliament. I have a slight suspicion that the next Speaker might well be someone whose name is not yet in the frame.  

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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