Speaker of the House!

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slowster
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Re: Speaker of the House!

Postby slowster » 13 Sep 2019, 10:13am

Ben@Forest wrote:For some Bercow is a hero and for others he is not, but whatever one thinks he has destroyed the traditional impartiality of the Speaker.

I don't think so. The referendum was a fundamental departure from the UK's normal system of decision making by a government whose decisions are subject to scrutiny and voting for/against by MPs in the Commons. If Parliament had simply acquiesced in letting the government of the day decide what type of Brexit we were to have (something which would probably affect the UK population for decades because of its potential economic impact), then people would have rightly taken the view that Parliament was very diminished in its performance and value, and would have questioned the value of MPs.

The turmoil in Parliament is a direct result of the deliberate choice of the Leave campaign to pretend that it would give the best of all worlds: the same level of advantageous trading with the EU in the Single Market, no Freedom of Movement, no contribution to the EU budget etc. If Leave had campaigned for a specific type of Brexit, e.g. EEA membership, Canada Plus or whatever, it would have very likely lost the referendum, because the negative aspects of its particular choice of Brexit type would have been picked apart and would have reduced its vote (and by the same token, it would have got absolutely nowhere if its campaign had been for a hard WTO type Brexit). By being vague Leave avoided the weaknesses in its Campaign being exposed, but in doing so it also failed to get the sort of mandate it needed to drive through Brexit unopposed and unscrutinised in Parliament. Arguably MPs were at fault for voting for a referendum without insisting that the type of Brexit that people were to vote on be defined in advance.

Given all the circumstances, the Speaker probably had to allow and even encourage the Commons to assert itself, and the public attention on what has happened in the Commons and in the political parties is probably very good for democracy in the longer run: it shows that the MPs they elect do matter, and can make a difference, and it has probably hugely increased the engagement and interest of many more people in politics and the political process.

Ben@Forest wrote:It is highly likely the parameters of the Speaker's role will be changed. Sir Bernard Jenkin, who is chairman of the Constitutional Affairs Committe just intimated that the powers of the Speaker are likely to be reviewed by the committee.

That may or may not be a good thing, but Bercow's successor may find their role circumscribed compared to previous holders of the office. It seems ineffably sad to me, Bercow was a lousy choice but it's perhaps the inevitable outcome of Labour supporting a Conservative candidate they knew the Conservatives did not want.

I agree that Labour MPs electing Bercow as a spoiler was not good, and party politicisation of the choice of Speaker is damaging for the function of Parliamentary democracy, but I think it's extremely unlikely that MPs will curtail the Speaker in the way that Bernard Jenkin wants. Ultimately backbench MPs of all parties know that a strong independently minded Speaker is best for them. All of them will know that in curtailing the Speaker's power, they potentially reduce their power and increase the power of the government of the day. I suspect many MPs, while publically despairing of the present situation, are actually acquiring a taste for the greater levels of power that they have experienced lately. Things are often so finely balanced that every MPs vote matters. I don't think they will be so keen to see that change.

geocycle
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Re: Speaker of the House!

Postby geocycle » 13 Sep 2019, 10:26am

Bercow is an aptly named eccentric who is becoming increasingly like Griff Rhys Jones with age. Without him standing up against his own party we would have been in an even worse situation. He has probably over extended his personal power and I hope a more traditional incumbent will restore balance. He’s had the hardest job of any speaker in living memory as precedent doesn’t exist for much of what has emerged over the last few years.

Psamathe
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Re: Speaker of the House!

Postby Psamathe » 13 Sep 2019, 10:36am

Ben@Forest wrote:For some Bercow is a hero and for others he is not, but whatever one thinks he has destroyed the traditional impartiality of the Speaker.

I don't agree. All the speaker has done is to allow the Commons to make decisions. He has not persuaded or cajoled any decisions one way or the other. He has just allowed the Commons to debate and decide.

It seems mainly those more extreme Brexit-eer MPs who have been trying to start an outcry against the speaker because he [Speaker] has allowed the Commons to make decisions contrary to their Brexit ideology. But the Commons are our representatives so it seems to me quite right and proper that the Commons (my representative) be allowed to debate and decide things even if that means some MPs driven by personal ideology rather than National interest have decisons made contrary to their wishes.

The situation has maybe been worse because we have an Executive who since Brexit has been trying to sideline the Commons and exclude them from crucial decisions affecting the Country long term. Remember how May had to be forced by the Court to allow MPs a "Meaningful Vote", and now Johnson closing down the Commons for 5 weeks to try and stop them interfering in his plans.

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Tangled Metal
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Re: Speaker of the House!

Postby Tangled Metal » 13 Sep 2019, 10:48am

Can I remind people that Bercow was a controversial speaker long before the Brexit situation. It's long been discussed how he has transitioned from a very right wing political position to being considered a labour politician in the Tory party.

Don't you find it strange that the labour party was so keen to get him into position and keep him there even though it was by convention labour's turn with the speaker? Could it just be that he had long ago politicised the speaker role and his politics were left of centre and some of his calls were too.

I'm sure I even read at one point he was rumoured to be switching to labour. Probably just gossip and scaremongering by right wing types but that only works if the possibility it's true was indicated by his behaviour.

Personally I am ambivalent about bercow. I don't see him as good or bad in the role. I do think we need to see a change with the next incumbent. Whether it's just a change in personality and approach or a complete redesign of the role and recruitment of the role holder. Change is needed and partly that's because it bercow and partly because of other political issues such as Brexit, parliament standstill / progress.

PDQ Mobile
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Re: Speaker of the House!

Postby PDQ Mobile » 13 Sep 2019, 11:03am

^^ tangled.
I agree.
It is the Tories that have moved to the right not Bercow moving left!

I disagree with Ben upthread.
Brecow has been a true defender of Parliament.
That is his role.

Ben@Forest
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Re: Speaker of the House!

Postby Ben@Forest » 13 Sep 2019, 11:57am

Well before Brexit Bercow started to see how he could limit the power of the executive in favour of the House of Commons. And the Opposition love him for it, but of course if he sets precedents other Speakers follow they won't be so pleased when they wield (or.try to wield) power.

Historically speakers have had huge latitude in the way they choose to intepret parliamentary rules, regulations and business. But Bercow has politicised the role and l think there will eventually be greater limits set on what a Speaker can or cannot do.

It's the inevitable result of his actions and it's a shame because a party with a decent majority will see it through when we need a Speaker who supports a weak opposition. Bercow has enabled a strong opposition against a weak, minority government and it hasn't helped an already fraught situation.

francovendee
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Re: Speaker of the House!

Postby francovendee » 13 Sep 2019, 1:15pm

This is a speaker who has resisted some of the things the Tory government wanted. By doing so he's got himself disliked and distrusted by the far right of the party.
Minority government, only very recently as 'Strong and Stable' pointed out they'd won more votes than labour and had a small majority.

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mjr
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Re: Speaker of the House!

Postby mjr » 13 Sep 2019, 1:22pm

Ben@Forest wrote:Historically speakers have had huge latitude in the way they choose to intepret parliamentary rules, regulations and business. But Bercow has politicised the role and l think there will eventually be greater limits set on what a Speaker can or cannot do.

I think that's forgetting Michael Martin, who ruled a leader of the opposition out of order at PMQs, allegedly controlled journalist access and somewhat wrongheadedly tried to protect the old expenses system. Bercow has changed the path a bit, but it's too soon to tell whether for better or worse IMO. I don't think we can fault his devotion to parliamentary sovereignty, though.

It's the inevitable result of his actions and it's a shame because a party with a decent majority will see it through when we need a Speaker who supports a weak opposition. Bercow has enabled a strong opposition against a weak, minority government and it hasn't helped an already fraught situation.

I don't think many would call Corbyn's Labour "a strong opposition" despite the weak minority government.
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Ben@Forest
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Re: Speaker of the House!

Postby Ben@Forest » 13 Sep 2019, 1:43pm

francovendee wrote:This is a speaker who has resisted some of the things the Tory government wanted. By doing so he's got himself disliked and distrusted by the far right of the party.
Minority government, only very recently as 'Strong and Stable' pointed out they'd won more votes than labour and had a small majority.


It's been a weak government since it was elected. It needed an agreement with the DUP and that has obviously affected how Brexit is approached from the NI angle. And his selection as Speaker was controversial from the off, his decisions were questoned right through the coalition government, not just this one.

PDQ Mobile
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Re: Speaker of the House!

Postby PDQ Mobile » 13 Sep 2019, 2:19pm

Ben@Forest wrote:
francovendee wrote:This is a speaker who has resisted some of the things the Tory government wanted. By doing so he's got himself disliked and distrusted by the far right of the party.
Minority government, only very recently as 'Strong and Stable' pointed out they'd won more votes than labour and had a small majority.


It's been a weak government since it was elected. It needed an agreement with the DUP and that has obviously affected how Brexit is approached from the NI angle. And his selection as Speaker was controversial from the off, his decisions were questoned right through the coalition government, not just this one.


Which in my book makes/made him an excellent Speaker.
After all we are talking about a minority Govt that has shut down Parliament.
You support that?

brynpoeth
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Re: Speaker of the House!

Postby brynpoeth » 14 Sep 2019, 10:07am

LollyKat wrote:From the BBC News link on the previous page:
Such is the anger with the Speaker at senior levels of government, it has been suggested he could be blocked from getting a peerage when he retires. Ministers are furious at what they see as John Bercow's "bias" during Commons debates on Brexit....

A Cabinet source said: "It's a good job peerage nominations are in our gift....I can't imagine we would look favourably on those who've cheated centuries of procedure."

Ahem... :roll:

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