John Bercow

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pages: 333 words: 99,545

Why We Get the Wrong Politicians by Isabel Hardman

affirmative action, Boris Johnson, crowdsourcing, deskilling, Donald Trump, gender pay gap, housing crisis, John Bercow, old-boy network

Labour MP Barry Gardiner was caught in a gale of laughter when he stood up to ask his question in March 2015. MPs had been chortling at someone else, but their giggles punctuated his first sentence, which was ‘My father died of cancer.’ He then added, to shamefaced silence from those opposite him, that his mother and sister had also died of cancer. The collision between question and behaviour elsewhere in the Chamber couldn’t have been worse. John Bercow, the Speaker of the House, frequently upbraids MPs for their behaviour, claiming that the public despises PMQs for its childishness. There is evidence that bears this assertion out. YouGov polling conducted for this book following the Prime Minister’s Questions session on 22 February 2017 found that only 2 per cent of adults surveyed had watched the session in full, while just under a third said they hadn’t watched this particular session but had watched PMQs before, and 54 per cent said they had never watched it.

A better form of question is the urgent question, in which a minister is summoned to the House by a backbench MP or an opposition frontbencher on a specific matter. Such is the battle for power in Parliament that nervous governments will often organise statements on something that has gone wrong in order to avoid being humiliated by a UQ, or appearing reluctant to face scrutiny. This system fell by the wayside until John Bercow became Speaker, whereupon he seized on the opportunity to make the government as uncomfortable as possible by granting hundreds of urgent questions. He has helped Parliament become a little more threatening to the government. Ministers sometimes try to dodge urgent questions by sending their juniors to answer them. George Osborne would famously send David Gauke in his place to defend any unpopular Treasury policy.

In Britain, voters back a party with a programme for government, and it is therefore reasonable to expect that the government should be able to deliver what it has promised without the ‘losers’ – the opposition – being able to intervene. In the US, if both houses of Congress are dominated by the president’s opponents, then he becomes a ‘lame duck’, unable to deliver anything particularly radical. There are other problems besides the legislative deadlock that critics of the American system cite. Speaker John Bercow is fervently in favour of strengthening Parliament, but very cool on the idea of a full separation of powers. When I asked him about this, he explained: ‘I think that the case would have to be made quite strongly as to why it is or how it would be that we would be better served if ministers were not directly and immediately accountable to the House . . . It is a risky enterprise to move away from a situation where, however powerful they might be, they are members of our Parliament and we’ve got them.’1 Bercow’s delight in granting troublesome urgent questions to backbenchers and members of the opposition is an example of this, though the minister responsible for a crisis can quite easily send someone to answer on his behalf.


pages: 378 words: 94,468

Drugs 2.0: The Web Revolution That's Changing How the World Gets High by Mike Power

air freight, Alexander Shulgin, banking crisis, bitcoin, blockchain, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, cloud computing, credit crunch, crowdsourcing, death of newspapers, Donald Davies, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, fiat currency, Firefox, Fractional reserve banking, frictionless, Haight Ashbury, John Bercow, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, Leonard Kleinrock, means of production, Menlo Park, moral panic, Mother of all demos, Network effects, nuclear paranoia, packet switching, pattern recognition, PIHKAL and TIHKAL, pre–internet, QR code, RAND corporation, Satoshi Nakamoto, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), sexual politics, Skype, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, trade route, Whole Earth Catalog, Zimmermann PGP

It just wasn’t him.’7 In February 2012 a fifty-nine-year-old woman and a thirty-two-year-old man were found dead at their homes in Leicestershire, after taking a methoxetamine overdose.8 That same month Andrew Cooke, a twenty-nine-year-old drummer from Crystal Palace, went missing in east London and it is thought he may have consumed methoxetamine – knowingly or unknowingly – in the hours before his disappearance. ‘He was last seen between 3–4 pm Sunday afternoon (February 12) at a free/squat party located on 1 Lea Valley Road near Chingford,’ his friends wrote on Facebook. His body was found in a nearby canal on 14 March.9 After the government ban was announced in late March that year, Sally Bercow, the wife of John Bercow, speaker of the House of Commons, tweeted, ‘Mexxy is a legal high that is, er, no longer legal. And now we’ve all heard of it, demand will rocket.’ And with that, the research chemical scene was at the heart of British political life, reported upon in Middle England’s tabloid of choice, the Daily Mail, and tweeted about by the wife of the Speaker of the House of Commons.10 In every major city in the UK and many small towns there were people buying new, untested and powerfully psychoactive chemicals marketed as legal highs, with no indication of what the drug was, what it did, or how it should be taken.


pages: 613 words: 151,140

No Such Thing as Society by Andy McSmith

anti-communist, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bob Geldof, Boris Johnson, British Empire, Brixton riot, call centre, cuban missile crisis, Etonian, F. W. de Klerk, Farzad Bazoft, feminist movement, fixed income, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, friendly fire, full employment, glass ceiling, God and Mammon, greed is good, illegal immigration, index card, John Bercow, Kickstarter, liberal capitalism, light touch regulation, Live Aid, loadsamoney, long peace, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, mortgage debt, mutually assured destruction, negative equity, Neil Kinnock, Nelson Mandela, North Sea oil, Northern Rock, old-boy network, popular capitalism, Right to Buy, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, Sloane Ranger, South Sea Bubble, spread of share-ownership, strikebreaker, The Chicago School, union organizing, upwardly mobile, urban decay, Winter of Discontent, young professional

They restated that the club’s policy was: ‘An end to New Commonwealth and Pakistani immigration, a properly financed scheme of voluntary repatriation, the repeal of the Race Relations Act, and the abolition of the Commission for Racial Equality; particular emphasis on repatriation.’2 The committee chairman was the Conservative MP for Billericay, Harvey Proctor, and the committee secretary in 1981–3 was a student activist from north London, John Bercow, who many years later became Speaker of the House of Commons. (Sir Ronald Bell, that articulate voice of white middle-class rectitude, was no longer there to speak for the Monday Club, having died suddenly in 1982, in his Commons office, while having sex with a woman who was not his wife.) Bercow cut his ties with the Monday Club in February 1983, when he concluded that some of its members were racist.


Not Working by Blanchflower, David G.

active measures, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, bank run, banking crisis, basic income, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, Black Swan, Boris Johnson, business cycle, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, Clapham omnibus, collective bargaining, correlation does not imply causation, credit crunch, declining real wages, deindustrialization, Donald Trump, estate planning, Fall of the Berlin Wall, full employment, George Akerlof, gig economy, Gini coefficient, Growth in a Time of Debt, illegal immigration, income inequality, indoor plumbing, inflation targeting, job satisfaction, John Bercow, Kenneth Rogoff, labor-force participation, liquidationism / Banker’s doctrine / the Treasury view, longitudinal study, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, market clearing, Martin Wolf, mass incarceration, meta analysis, meta-analysis, moral hazard, Nate Silver, negative equity, new economy, Northern Rock, obamacare, oil shock, open borders, Own Your Own Home, p-value, Panamax, pension reform, plutocrats, Plutocrats, post-materialism, price stability, prisoner's dilemma, quantitative easing, rent control, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, selection bias, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, Thorstein Veblen, trade liberalization, universal basic income, University of East Anglia, urban planning, working poor, working-age population, yield curve

The next day the prime minister went back to the EU Commission to try to get further concessions and, as expected, came home empty-handed. It was unclear why, after two and a half years of negotiating, she thought she could get more in an evening. The Sun’s colorful headline on her return was “EU Leaders Tell PM to Get Stuffed.” After two failed attempts to get May’s deal through Parliament, less than two weeks before the UK was meant to leave the EU at the end of March 2019, Speaker John Bercow announced that he would not allow a third vote on the withdrawal agreement without substantial changes. Bercow’s decision was based on an official parliamentary rule book that was first published by Thomas Erskine May in 1844 that says you can’t keep voting on the same bill hoping you will get a different result. Brexit is going to be delayed. Chaos reigns. The OECD in its forecast from November 2018 has GDP growth in the UK at 1.3 percent in 2018; 1.4 percent in 2019; and 1.1 percent in 2020.


How to Be a Liberal by Ian Dunt

4chan, Alfred Russel Wallace, bank run, battle of ideas, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Boris Johnson, bounce rate, British Empire, Brixton riot, Carmen Reinhart, centre right, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Dominic Cummings, Donald Trump, eurozone crisis, experimental subject, feminist movement, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, Growth in a Time of Debt, illegal immigration, invisible hand, John Bercow, Kenneth Rogoff, liberal world order, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, means of production, Mohammed Bouazizi, Northern Rock, old-boy network, Paul Samuelson, Peter Thiel, price mechanism, profit motive, quantitative easing, recommendation engine, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, Scientific racism, Silicon Valley, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, upwardly mobile, Winter of Discontent, working poor, zero-sum game

The Tory party was purged of any remaining moderate figures – those who could not bring themselves to support no-deal. Almost overnight, some of the most respected and experienced politicians on the British centre-right were removed from the parliamentary party. One of the Vote Leave government’s first moves was to suspend parliament. On the morning of 28th August 2019, with just two months to go until the Article 50 deadline, the prime minister initiated a prorogation. The Speaker of the Commons, John Bercow, branded the move a ‘constitutional outrage,’ but he was powerless to stop it. In the early hours of 10th September, for the first time in the modern era, parliament was suspended against its will. Once again, the liberal system fought back. Miller took another case to the Supreme Court, amid more death threats and racial abuse. It ruled that the prorogation was unlawful. Parliament returned.


pages: 721 words: 238,678

Fall Out: A Year of Political Mayhem by Tim Shipman

banking crisis, Beeching cuts, Bernie Sanders, Boris Johnson, centre right, Clapham omnibus, Corn Laws, corporate governance, Dominic Cummings, Donald Trump, drone strike, Etonian, eurozone crisis, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, iterative process, John Bercow, Kickstarter, kremlinology, land value tax, mutually assured destruction, Neil Kinnock, new economy, non-tariff barriers, offshore financial centre, open borders, quantitative easing, Ronald Reagan, Snapchat, working poor

Unusual or not, the senior figures in the British government had now aligned themselves indelibly with the most controversial figure ever to occupy his office. It is hard to fault the desire to put Britain at the front of the queue to influence the new president and secure a post-Brexit trade deal, but in the coming months such eagerness began to look like an error. The idea of a state visit by Trump attracted the threat of mass protests at home. On 6 February, the Speaker of the Commons, John Bercow, announced that he would be ‘strongly opposed’ to Trump giving an address in Parliament’s Westminster Hall, an honour accorded to Barack Obama but one that had not been offered to Trump. In March a fresh row erupted when Sean Spicer, the president’s press secretary, repeated a claim made by an analyst on Fox News that GCHQ – the British intelligence listening station – had been used by the Obama administration to spy on Trump Tower.