Saturday, June 20, 2009

Speaker of the House: Dorries V. Bercow

Reading the comments of Nadine Dorries' opposition to the likely election of John Bercow as Speaker of the House of Commons brought the comment of Henry Kissinger about it being a shame that both sides can't lose to mind once again. Let's look at Dorries' comments first.

The reasons - other than a dislike of Bercow for being a bit of a snob - reveal more about the prejudices and concerns of the woman some refer to as "Mad Nad" than they do about Bercow's suitability to be Speaker. Up first we have Nadine's problem with Bercow's wife:
The first being that the Speaker’s wife, should he have one, plays a very important role. We have all seen how often Speaker Martin’s wife has been named in the press over the years. John Bercow’s wife is reported to be a socialist. Does this matter? I think it does, a great deal. The position has been held by socialists twice already.
I'm not quite sure whether Nadine is referring to the role of Speaker of the House of Commons or the role of spouse of Speaker of the House of Commons. Although I struggle to know why it makes a blind bit of fucking difference what Bercow's wife thinks about anything. Bercow is his own man, and whilst his political views are all over the place (as we will come on to see), there is no evidence that he is unduly influenced by his wife. And it's also worth noting that the main reason why Mrs Martin ended up in the press so much was because of her aptitude at helping her husband to maximise his generous expenses allowance.

Anyway, isn't the Speaker meant to be neutral in debates ? Yeah, Speaker Martin didn't always manage that, but that bovine sack of shit should never had been in the position in the first place. If Dorries is worried about Bercow's wife whispering extracts from the Communist Manifesto during Prime Minister's Questions then she should note that the Speaker's wife won't be with him whilst he does his duties in the House. 

Besides, I thought that Bercow's wife was attached to Nu Labour - which makes her about as socialist a moderate Tory.

But that is just window dressing - I suspect that the real reason why Dorries has it in for Bercow is about the latter's view on abortion. See, the new progressive Bercow is pro-choice (or pro-abortion in the odious vernacular of Nadine) and makes no bones about being dismissive about some of the more loopy views of those who use spurious medical knowledge and arcane religious beliefs to limit a woman's right to choose whether they have a baby or not. Something that seems to have struck Nadine in particular is Bercow's description of her views as antediluvian. Nadine explains:
John Bercow described the 190 of us, who voted in favour of reducing the upper limit, as ‘antediluvian’, which means 'before The Flood' i.e. prehistoric.
Frankly, Bercow was quite polite in his description. But Nadine Dorries does have curiously dated views about abortion that often defy common sense, evidence and reason. She had banged on about the hand of hope photo - just go read this piece at the Devil's Kitchen and follow all the links to see just how zealous and deceitful Nadine can be to follow her frankly barmy views on abortion. 

As I said before, Bercow was polite in his description of Nadine's views. He was also accurate.

And let's wrap up our deconstruction of Dorries' problems with this little summary:
Can we trust a Speaker who has such strident zealot views on such an issue to be fair, if he regards those in favour of reducing the number of abortions as prehistoric?
Can we trust the commentary of a politician who unashamedly uses myths and nonsense to back her own spurious, illiberal and zealous views on abortion? And let's be clear on this, Dorries' policy for reducing the number of abortions is by limiting a woman's individual right to choose. 

The disdain and anger of Dorries at Bercow almost makes me want to support him for the bid to be Speaker. That is, until I did a bit of research on Bercow. 

Ignoring the fact that Bercow does come across as a bit of an arrogant wanker (he's a politician, for Christ's sake, of course he's going to be arrogant) there is his radical change in his political views whilst in the Commons from mimicking the views of one Enoch Powell to being the lapdog of Gordon Brown. Now, there is nothing wrong with changing your political views - Churchill famously couldn't decide what side of the House of Commons he wanted to be on. But there is nothing ideological about Bercow's changes. He simply follows power and influence. He is a toady, a lackey and a arse-licker. And whilst there can be no doubt that those who relentlessly pursue power to the extent of everything else - including even basic ideological integrity - do get on in Politics, they don't tend to be the best people to have in positions of power and influence. Think about another example - Tony Blair. 

And then there is the motivation - the reason why Labour MPs have got behind Bercow. Partly it is because he has done everything to suck up to them, but mainly because they know that electing Bercow as Speaker would really piss off David Cameron. So there we have it. We need to have a great, reforming Speaker of the House of Commons, but the Labour party are preparing to elect Bercow because he pisses off the Leader of the Opposition. John Bercow - neither historic not reforming, but irritating to the Opposition. Jesus. 

But what is Bercow - if elected - going to have focus on above everything else? That would be the issue of MPs' expenses. And here Bercow has some experience. By God, does he have experience. Not of the good kind, of course:
Bercow has consistently been one of the most expensive members of the House of Commons, in terms of claims on the additional costs allowance.

In the financial years 2007-8, 2006-7, 2004-5 and 2002-3 he had the distinction of occupying joint first position in a league table of most expensive members of the House of Commons, while in 2003-4 he was the joint third most expensive Member.
And that for me is the best reason why Bercow shouldn't be speaker. He is not just part of problem, he pretty much personifies the problem. Bercow should be on his way out of the Commons, not about to ascend to the position of Speaker. The sole thing Bercow has going for him is he pisses off Nadine Dorries.

To say Bercow isn't suitable to be speaker is to state the bloody obvious - but then, looking at the candidates for the job of Speaker, it is difficult to know who should get the job. Those who want the job aren't capable of doing that job - but then again, who is in the discredited House of Commons is capable of being Speaker?

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At 1:03 pm , Blogger James Higham said...


At 6:05 pm , Blogger The Nameless Libertarian said...

I've been reading that Beckett is steaming ahead with the Bookies. Well, I suppose Caligula had a horse as a consul, so Brown may as well have a horse as Speaker.

At 9:31 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you are mistaken about Bercow - the whole 'drift to the left' thing is a route which has been well travelled by former head-banging FCSers.

At 9:39 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry for the second comment, but the distinction of being the first highest claimant isn't hard to acheive. If you were to represent the claims of all MP's expenses claims graphically, you'd see that a small number occupy poll position, but then a very large number of MPs, the majority of whom have not been criticised for their claims, manage their figures to claim around £30 less the total allowance.

I asked an MP friend why they did this, and he said that he felt all the money had been claimed fairly, and that he could have claimed the total amount, but he didn't want the heat that poll position would entail.

While I do think that the MP I spoke to is completely honest and upright (a rare breed perhaps), that answer dissappointed me somewhat. It would be far more honest to claim the full amount rather than to claim £30-100 less in order artificially lower your standing in the 'league'. But if you look into it, the number of MPs who do this is staggering.

It makes Bercow, who didn't, as far as I am aware, try to obfuscate his figures in this way seem refreshingly honest.

I suppose I think that Bercow gets a worse press than he deserves.

At 3:13 pm , Blogger The Nameless Libertarian said...

Right, so I'm supposed to give a fuck about the fact that Bercow still managed to spend £30 more than most other MPs? That's supposed to be a sign of honesty?! Jesus.

Bercow rinsed the British taxpayer year after year through his expenses claims. He is now in charge of reforming the system he used for his own repeated, personal gain. On top of that, he is a shiftless political lightweight who brazenly chooses his ideological positions based on how it progresses his career. The bad press that he gets is richly deserved.


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