Monday, 22 June 2009

John Bercow - New Speaker of The House of Commons

John Bercow, Conservative MP for Buckingham, is the new speaker of the House of Commons. He was elected to government in 1997 and served in the Shadow Cabinet under Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Howard. Bercow has increased his majority to over 18,000 at the General Election in 2005.
He has risen quickly through the junior ranks and was brought into the Shadow Cabinet in 2001. During this time Bercow stated that he lacked ruthlessness which would stop him from rising higher.

John Bercow’s website states
“You elected me and sent me to the House of Commons to speak and vote for the people of Buckingham. You might not agree with some of my views and that is OK. That is what representative democracy is all about.
Some politicians these days try to have bland views on everything so that they please everybody. However I have always taken the view that there is no point in being an MP if you don’t have opinions and you say nothing. I can’t fight the corner if I have no opinions and don’t know what to say.
However, it is my duty and pleasure to serve all of my constituents in Buckingham irrespective of your political views."

Bercow has long had an interest in Burma and the issue of democracy and genocide in the country. He runs the Advanced Speaking and Campaigning course, which has trained over 600 Conservatives, including several current MPs. Children and young people with speech, language and communication needs is another of his special interests.
The Speaker is the chief officer and highest authority of the House of Commons and also represents the Commons to the monarch, the Lords and other authorities and chairs the House of Commons Commission. Speakers must be politically impartial and on election the new Speaker must resign from their political party and remain separate from political issues even in retirement. The Speaker still deals with their constituents' problems as a normal MP.
I am not sure that someone can turn immediately from being affiliated to a political party to being completely impartial. Perhaps this is what my own MP, Kevin Barron is aiming for when he says that he will not talk politics with me (problem with Mr Barron is that he does not appear to be dealing with his constituents’ problems either).

Bercow says that immediately, he must and will cast aside all of his political views. "I said it and I meant it". He will be completely impartial and will do his best "faithfully and honestly to serve the House".

So as, with much of what is happening in political life at the moment, we will have to “wait and see”, whilst hoping that the new speaker will carry out his role of ensuring MPs follow the rules of the House during debates.
If we have a speaker who genuinely sticks to the rules as agreed, then we have a chance of democracy coming back to our government.