John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons, has an article which is to appear in the next issue of The House magazine, due out on 16 October in which he proposes some improvements in the manner by which the House of Commons carries out its business.
He begins by summarising recent changes since 2009; and writes: These were mostly the work of the Wright Committee of 2009-2010, whose recommendations included the election of Select Committee Chairs and the creation of the Backbench Business Committee which has, to borrow a phrase, acted to “take back control” of a section of our timetable on behalf of backbench MPs, aka the poor bloody infantry. In view of the fact, so aptly demonstrated by themselves, that our present MPs are not fit for purpose, one assumes he meant to write bloody poor infantry – but I digress.
He continues with a final point, where recent changes are concerned, writing: The final element has been the change in the culture at Westminster. The Parliament elected in 2017, in terms of gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation, is more representative of modern Britain than any of its predecessors. All I can say to that is ‘Hooray for the gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation bandwagon; unfortunately, as intimated in the preceding paragraph, it is little point in electing people to be more representative of modern Britain if they are not competent or knowledgeable for the task required – but yet again I digress.
Bercow then begins to outline three changes he would like to see implemented. He begins with the fact that a ‘House Business Committee’ has yet to be created, even though the other recommendation of the Wright Report, the House Business Committee has, albeit in the process become, as he puts it, ‘part of the furniture’. Presumably if a ‘House Business Committee’ is created it will include some Members of Parliament who, having been there so long, can also be considered ‘part of the furniture’ – but, for the third time, I digress. He ends this section by stating the failure to create a ‘House Business Committee’, as a basic democratic principle, will not do. John Bercow must realise that within our current system of democracy there is a great, great deal of basic democratic principle, if we are to have any semblance of ‘true democracy’ which will not do.
Bercow’s final suggestion is about who can request the recall of Parliament, when it is in recess. Currently only the government can so do and he believes a cross-party group of MPs should also be able to request a recall, even if it entailed a recall in the depths of August with all the aggravation that this may entail. The inference that Members of Parliament should not have their free time interrupted beggars belief; they after all are the guardians of our nationand every job has a downside, does it not?
Politicians today enjoy a cosseted life style, they are selected by their party, confirmed by their local associations and if elected invariably have a job for life. Basically they control their own modus operandi, they receive subsided catering, they receive generous remuneration, the majority of them can legally own two houses, none of them are answerable to anyone but their own political parties (in effect), all paid for by the public purse – and Bercow proposes to increase the powers of the clique to which they all belong?
I repeat, if, to quote Bercow, we are to have any semblance of ‘true democracy’ then the current system of representative democracy will not do. Nowhere in Bercow’s article is any acknowledgement of the people and their superior status to those they elect. Just where is there any acknowledgement of the power of the people if he is discussing ‘democracy per se’? While we have the likes of Bercow in effect denying the people their right to control him and his fellow inhabitants of the House of Commons, there will eventually be only one outcome. Heads on pikes – and it won’t be those of the people.
Bercow and his ilk need to remember one basic fact of life – what goes round, comes round.