Why can no-one oust Bercow the Barnacle from his Speaker’s chair?

John Bercow
John Bercow

John Bercow must have the hide of a rhinoceros. Pretty well the entire parliamentary Conservative Party, as well as some Labour MPs, want him to quit as Speaker of the House of Commons – and without delay.

He has been told all this in public and to his face, and yet, like a barnacle on the prow of a ship, he sticks there, immovable.

Chris Moncrieff

Chris Moncrieff

It has been said that there could not be a worse time to change a Speaker. Why? It is also said that he wants to see the Brexit issue through before he steps down.

Well, any Speaker can do that. He is not supposed to air any views on this or any other political subject whatsoever, yet a notice in a car parked in his place at the House of Commons proclaimed ‘B******s to Brexit’.

That should have been enough to have him booted out of the chair there and then, if it was his car.

He is a bad Speaker. He interrupts unnecessarily, thus spoiling the flow of debate, and he is sometimes downright rude to individual MPs. He plainly likes the sound of his own voice. His name has even been mentioned in the bullying row at Westminster, although he has denied all allegations.

MPs continue to complain about him, but do not seem to have the bottle to act. Why on Earth not?

• Theresa May, some years ago, warned that the Conservatives were in danger of becoming the ‘Nasty Party’. Well, things have got even worse than that. You would now be justified in calling them the Yobbos Party.

The furore over Brexit has descended into the gutter and the slime. It is bad enough for her so-called friends on the Tory benches to attack her in public over Brexit, but some of the epithets used against her have been shameful and well beyond the pale.

It is beyond me how the Conservatives can hope to retain any public trust, let alone win elections, when so many of them are behaving in this puerile way .

There has been talk of her facing a ‘show trial’ at a meeting of the 1922 Committee of Conservative back-benchers. While one MP, who does not seem to have had the courage to identify him or herself, has suggested she brings her own noose. How vicious is that?

The Conservative Party was once renowned for loyalty and discretion when the going got tough. No longer. What is now going on is not only blatantly disloyal but the stuff of bully boys. Even Australian politicians, notorious for their slanderous insults, have not ventured this far.

The bullet-headed Brussels negotiators, who have themselves treated the Prime Minister without the common courtesy that she, and anybody else, deserves, must be glorying in her problems.

How can she hope to impress the hard men of Brussels when her own so-called friends at Westminster are weakening her authority by their own disgraceful behaviour? They are making a difficult situation that much worse.

• It’s good news to hear that an influential voice in the police force has poured ice-cold water on those who would like to see wolf-whistling and other flirtatious activities become hate crimes.

Sergeant Richard Cooke, the recently-elected chairman of the West Midlands Police Federation has indicated that the police have more than enough to do in dealing with serious crimes without having to waste time, money and manpower on the whims of the politically correct fraternity. Good for him.

And why should Parliament equally waste time on introducing measures to outlaw these, in my opinion, harmless activities?

Political correctness has now taken such a hold that even Snow White and Cinderella have fallen victims. Madness, if you ask me.

The best comment about wolf-whistling I have heard was in a letter written to a national newspaper by Rae Shaw, of Thrumpton, Nottinghamshire. It read: “The last time I was wolf-whistled a couple of years ago when I was climbing out of a swimming pool, I was elated, flattered, thrilled - until I discovered it was a parrot”.

• Denzil Davies, who has just died, was a Labour MP with a brilliant political brain, but by the time of his death he was almost a forgotten figure.

In Government he served as Minister of State at the Treasury, and when Labour went into Opposition, Neil Kinnock made him shadow Defence Secretary. A glittering future was beginning to look assured.

But Davies was no fan of Kinnock and ultimately became utterly frustrated with Kinnock’s leadership of the Labour Party.

It culminated with Davies telephoning me at home in the middle of the night, announcing - to me rather than to Kinnock! - that he was resigning on the spot from the defence post, accusing Kinnock of running the Defence portfolio on the hoof, and taking decisions without even mentioning them to Davies.

Needless to say, Kinnock turned puce with rage when he woke up in the morning to hear the news. What happened after that was that Davies spent the next 17 years as an MP virtually in the shadows, a discarded figure.

One trusts that Kinnock learnt a lesson from allegedly treating a valuable shadow Cabinet colleague in such a cavalier way. Davies’s response, by resigning in such an unusual way, was quite understandable.

But what a waste of a man with so much to offer and so much political acumen. It was a sad story.