Steerpike Steerpike

Will Keir Starmer purge John Bercow?

TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images

Well that’s that then. This morning’s report by the Independent Expert Panel into John Bercow’s behaviour makes for damning reading for the former Commons Speaker. It finds him guilty of bullying House of Commons staff and has banned him for life from holding a parliamentary pass for former members. The move effectively kills his chances of getting a peerage. Poor Sally.

The report on Bercow concluded he was a ‘serial bully’ who ‘repeatedly and extensively’ bullied staff. In all 21 separate allegations were proved and have been upheld. It finds that:

This was behaviour which had no place in any workplace. Members of staff… should not be expected to have to tolerate it as part of everyday life. No person at work however senior, indeed particularly such a senior figure, should behave in this way. This was an abuse of power.

Bercow for his part is gloriously unrepentant, firing off a pre-emptive press release with more pomp than the state opening of Parliament. Drenched in hubris, fizzing with ego he describes his treatment as a ‘travesty of justice’, blaming it on a ‘reactionary and prejudiced old guard’ and that ‘to describe what I have experienced as a kangaroo court is grossly insulting to kangaroos.’ 

The former Speaker claims the report is ‘amateurish,’ ‘based on flimsiest evidence,’ ‘rooted in hearsay and baseless rumour,’ a ‘vengeful vendetta,’ ‘unjust,’ ‘shambolic,’  ‘a disgrace to a democratic Parliament,’ ‘cowardly,’ ‘feeble,’ ‘a blatant stitch up,’ and ‘beneath contempt.’ Gosh. He adds, in a veritably Nixonian phrase: ‘Don’t fall for the Establishment spin that I have been banned for life. I can still attend debates with the help of a friendly passholder or go as a member of the public.’ Very ‘I am not a crook’ indeed.

All of this leaves Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer in a bit of a difficult situation. For Bercow decided last June to flout the convention that ex-Speakers remain politically neutral after leaving office by deciding to sign up as a Labour party member.

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