John Bercow

Discussion in 'News and Current Affairs' started by Yellow Fang, 13 Jan 2019.

  1. Yellow Fang

    Yellow Fang Guru

    Location:
    Reading
    How can what he's doing even be legal? Last week he decided to change a centuries old precedent to allow non-amenable acts to be amenable, thus effectively changing the constitution. He did this with with no debate, giving no reasons, no way of appeal, and overriding the advice of the clerks of the common. He is clearly partisan, when the role requires strict neutrality. He drives to work with a Bollocks to Brexit sticker in his car. He was observed in discussion with Dominic Grieve who submitted the amendment a day or so before he unilaterally decided to upturn Parliamentary conventions. He did this two days after another MP was told the act was not amendable. And he's up to it again. The Times found out there's a plot to change Parliamentary procedures so that MPs' business takes priority over ministers. And apparently this is all fine with Remainers and the Government opposition.

    So Westminster spends three years debating Brexit with countless votes, following a referendum in which 84% of the adult British population voted, yet the speaker can get away with single handedly changing the constitution with no debate or explanation and for partisan reasons.
     
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  2. Spinney

    Spinney Bimbleur extraordinaire

    Location:
    Under the Edge
    The vote that he allowed won, showing there was a majority in parliament for it.
    If you're going to get all hot under the collar about this, how about objecting to some of the following:
    - Tories wanting to push all the Brexit stuff through without any parliamentary oversight at all
    - Davies lying about impact assessments having been done, and when some were done, trying to keep parliament from seeing them
    - May making her own red lines for negotiation, with no consultation, and seeming only to keep the DUP and the Tory hard right happy
    - promising a vote on her deal and postponing it because she thought she would lose, even with no real possibility that the EU would make any further concessions
    - and of course the older complaint about not allowing all UK citizens living in Europe to vote, even though a leave vote would have the greatest effect on them
     
  3. Spinney

    Spinney Bimbleur extraordinaire

    Location:
    Under the Edge
    Oh, and May's attempt to force parliament's hand by running down the clock. If she hadn't tried that manipulation, there would have been no need for the amendment you're objecting to.
     
  4. Unkraut

    Unkraut Master of the Inane Comment

    Location:
    Germany
    I shall be interested to see how this one develops, not having followed this closely (as usual). From what I can see, the Brexit debate might be the occasion for this, but the govt doing its own thing regardless of Parliament has been going on ever since Anthony Charles Lynton Blair took to ruling that way, followed to a greater of lesser extent by his successors, May in particular.

    I can't but think that Bercow was right not to allow the govt to prevaricate over the Brexit vote any longer having done so once, and I would have thought this could be supported regardless of your views on the subject itself. I'm afraid I think the govt is starting to reap what it has sown, and that for a long time now.

    My sister thinks this is Remain manipulation, but then she is informed by the tabloid press, not a reliable source of information!
     
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  5. OP
    OP
    Yellow Fang

    Yellow Fang Guru

    Location:
    Reading
    The government were working within the confines of the constitution. It may not be pretty like, but like Chelsea parking the bus or the Arsenal offside trap, it was within the rules.
    The speaker is supposed to be neutral. He's there to observe the rules are followed, not to change them.
    Brexit has been debated and voted on to death, the speaker changed the constitution unilaterally with no debate or explanation.
     
    MikeG likes this.
  6. Beebo

    Beebo Firm and Fruity

    Location:
    Hexleybeef
    There is no written constitution, he has just ignored a convention, he has ignored conventions before.
    I agree about the car sticker, even if it is his wifes car, it doesnt look good.

    What i cant get worked up about is the actual amendment. All it did was reduce the time to return to parliament from 21 days to 3 days.
    If the government had had the vote before christmas then no one would have cared about the 21 days, but they delayed the vote on purpose, so the 21 days suddenly became an issue. It is the governments fault for delaying in the first place.
     
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  7. Inertia

    Inertia I feel like I could... TAKE ON THE WORLD!!

    That’s the key bit, they have wasted two years and will keep wasting time if we let them.
     
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  8. Mugshot

    Mugshot Guru

    I wouldn't get too het up about him meeting Grieve either, I would imagine a man in his position has meetings with MPs all the time, and would also seek clarification if he felt it was needed on any piece of parliamentary business he wished to.
     
    Poacher likes this.
  9. Mugshot

    Mugshot Guru

    Considering the MPs and the media that are the most outraged, I would suggest he's done exactly the right thing at exactly the right time for all the right reasons.
     
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  10. steverob

    steverob Über Member

    Location:
    Buckinghamshire
    While I do think it was a little dodgy, especially as the Speaker's clerks warned him it was against convention (and therefore possibly opening all sorts of cans of worms in the future), you kind of feel that some sort of vote like this was going to come up one way or another pretty soon, and this was just one way of getting to it a little quicker.

    Plus I have very little sympathy with Government ministers complaining about him not respecting Parliamentary procedure - they've been the worst at doing this for the last eighteen months! How many votes have they lost (mainly by calling on all their MPs to abstain when they knew they were about to be defeated) and then just proceeded to ignore the results of that vote, or decide to just about barely comply with it in on the most mealy mouthed way they can, making a mockery of the vote against them? If you want to play by those sorts of rules, then you have no recourse to complain if those sorts of tactics are later used against you.
     
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  11. OP
    OP
    Yellow Fang

    Yellow Fang Guru

    Location:
    Reading
    Maybe that's the reason he did it, but the effects are more long lasting. It now makes it much harder for any future government with a small minority to get their programme through. Unlike a judge, he did not explain his ruling, so future speakers can't say that the precedent was only intended to stop a government from running down the clock on an important piece of legislation. If he had been a judge, his explanation could have been reviewed by a court of appeal to see if it should stand. The effect of Bercow's ruling is that in future any bill that the government brings forward to be voted on can be amended by the opposition. That is a change in the constitution, which he has taken, unilaterally, for partisan reasons. He next intends to change the constitution by allowing MPs' business to take precedence over ministers'. That is a major change in the constitution. People criticise Theresa May for trying to take on Henry VIII powers, but she has some sort of mandate. People voted for her. She is trying to put into effect the result of the referendum, even if she's not making a great job of it. Nobody voted for Bercow to make a root and branch reform of the parliamentary procedures. He was expected to act as a neutral referee.

    One of the other precedents he's overturned was making the government publish its legal advice. I can't remember exactly what it was on. I can't remember the Remainers squawking about it so I don't suppose the government were contravening it. Yet when Bercow was asked what advice he had received from the clerks of the house, he refused to say. However, we can all guess what it was.
     
    Last edited: 13 Jan 2019
  12. Rusty Nails

    Rusty Nails We remember

    Location:
    Here and there
    I find myself in two minds over this. Bercow is a self-important ar*ehole but his action did put a more sensible timescale within the debate.
     
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  13. Bromptonaut

    Bromptonaut Rohan Man

    Location:
    Bugbrooke UK
    Step back, put Leave/Remain behind you and try and look at this objectively.

    There is a lot of personal criticism of Bercow. People who have met and worked with him describe him as an unpleasant and vain man. More than one commentator has described him a a popinjay. He's been pretty clearly shown to be a bully who rants at and threatens those of his staff who displease him. The latter charge will be his eventual undoing.

    These are unprecedented times. The government is in an unholy mess over Brexit and cannot get it's most important legislation past the Commons. That is a mire of Mrs May's own making, she could and should have had this sorted long ago. Instead of engaging with Europe and parliament she set unattainable red lines, declared A50 far too soon and then wasted 2 months on an unnecessary election that mortally wounded her.

    The purpose of parliament is to scrutinise and amend government legislation. There's a permanent tension between parliament and the crown or latterly elected governments over how much power MPs have. Over the last 40-50 years governments of both stripes have succeeded in reducing MP's role to being little more than lobby fodder. Now, facing the massive constitutional change that is Brexit there is a constitutional crisis. Bercow has long tried to empower the back benches and to prevent government from using all and sundry devices to avoid challenge and scrutiny. He's repeatedly forced Ministers to the House when they'd rather hide. Hence he is deeply unpopular with the Tory frontbench and its lapdogs but equally he's won three elections as speaker.

    Exceptional times require exceptional measures but if Bercow's legacy is to empower the back benches he will be remembered as a great Speaker.
     
  14. Inertia

    Inertia I feel like I could... TAKE ON THE WORLD!!

    Maybe change is no bad thing. Maybe it’s not a bad idea for a minority government to work with opposition parties for a change.
     
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  15. OP
    OP
    Yellow Fang

    Yellow Fang Guru

    Location:
    Reading
    Well, be careful about that. Now he's set the precedent that a speaker can rip up the rule book and behave in a partisan manner, what's to stop a future government from picking their own stooge?
     
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