Early in John Bercow’s term of office as Speaker, there was an almighty row over the fact that he saw fit to lavish £37,000 of taxpayers’ money on a life-size official portrait of himself (which, admittedly, meant it wasn’t all that big).
Many felt the sum to be grostesquely excessive in an era of public-sector austerity.
Last week, at a reception in Speaker’s House hosted by Bercow’s successor Sir Lindsay Hoyle, I noticed that this imposing artwork has a large space at the bottom of the frame.
John Bercow, pictured as Speaker of the Commons in 2019, is reeling from allegations of vicious, foot-stamping bullying made by former Black Rod David Leakey. His chances of a peerages ‘are now zero’, a senior Commons official said
This, I was told, awaits Bercow’s title and coat of arms which would be forthcoming when, as is customary for ex-Speakers, he slips into an ermine gown and enters the House of Lords. Yet the highly controversial Bercow is reeling from allegations of vicious, foot-stamping bullying made by former Black Rod David Leakey and others, including ex-Commons Clerk Lord Lisvane.
A senior Commons official tells me: ‘His chances of a peerage are now zero.’
If we are never treated to the sight (and sound) of ‘Baron Bercow’, then the portrait will remain a lasting monument to the fact that he is the first Speaker in centuries not to have joined the Lords.
Bercow’s successor Sir Lindsay Hoyle is seen during the Prime Minister’s Questions on February 5
Well, he always liked to break with Parliamentary convention.
NB: Bercow’s ‘auto-hagiography’, Unspeakable, in which he boasts about his appallingly undemocratic behaviour in attempting to sabotage Brexit, went on sale only last Thursday. Yet Amazon and WHSmith are already selling the £20 tome at a heavily discounted £13.60.
When Farage lit up over the EU
Looking back on his 21 years in the European Parliament, Nigel Farage recalled a sharp letter from the authorities. It said: ‘This is the second time the EU parliament has had to write and warn you about smoking in your office. If this happens again, we will impose a fine which will be deducted from your salary.’
Nigel Farage recalled the time he was warned about smoking in his office and the possibility of being handed a fine which would be deducted from his salary. In response, he told the authorities to ‘do a monthly standing order’
Farage’s response? ‘I wrote back and said: “Save you the trouble, just do a monthly standing order.” I never heard back!’
Broadcaster Jeremy Paxman has no time for the ‘ruling class’ who say that people who voted for Brexit are racist and ignorant.
He told Saga magazine: ‘It’s not true. They have told us they don’t think much of Jeremy Corbyn or Jo Swinson, or of scaremongering retired diplomats.’ Wise words, Paxo.
Paymaster General Oliver Dowden, tipped to replace Nicky Morgan as Culture Secretary in this week’s reshuffle, could be a rare ally in the Commons for the beleaguered BBC. The blond ex-PR man boasts that he’s ‘the member of Parliament for Albert Square’, because the EastEnders set falls within his Hertsmere constituency.
Perhaps he’ll get a walk-on role as ‘Dirty Dow-den’…
General Oliver Dowden (pictured left) is tipped to replace Nicky Morgan as Culture Secretary in this week’s Cabinet reshuffle
Yet more evidence that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour is in denial. In literature sent to new members, a timeline lists some of the party’s achievements over the past 100 years.
Since 1997, when Tony Blair was elected, just four things have been deemed worthy of celebration.
These are the minimum wage and Human Rights Act, both enacted under Blair (though no mention is made of his three thumping election victories).
The other two? Membership rising above 500,000 under Corbyn after the rules were changed, and the 2017 General Election — which Jezza lost.
As the Glasto masses might howl: ‘Oh, Jeremy Corbyn…’
A sartorial cold shoulder
Ex-soap actress-turned-Labour MP Tracy Brabin drew a great deal of attention to herself for wearing a controversial, off-the-shoulder number at the Commons dispatch box. ‘Until then, only people who watched her on Coronation Street knew who she was,’ sniffs one of her colleagues.
Thankfully, Brabin’s predecessor as Shadow Culture Secretary, the slimmed-down ex-trencherman Tom Watson, didn’t try a similar sartorial stunt.
Labour MP Tracy Brabin drew attention to herself in an off-the-shoulder black dress at the Commons dispatch box