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A new style of Speaker?

Nick Robinson | 11:53 UK time, Tuesday, 23 June 2009

I've just interviewed the new Speaker about how he will seek to win the confidence of both the public whose anger he has acknowledged and his own colleagues in the Tory party, many of whom are horrified by his election.

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Speaking in the palatial splendour of Speaker's House, John Bercow told me that he will not - in future - claim an MP's second home allowance. He defends his own past expense claims insisting that he paid back money voluntarily to cover the tax he had saved after "flipping" his home designation.

The new Speaker told me that he favours greater transparency over MPs' expenses when I asked him whether he would reverse the decision to black out much of the information about who claimed what.

Mr Bercow insists that more Tories backed him in a secret ballot than the three or four prepared to say so publicly. He suggests that most in his own party were used to someone of a different generation holding the position and insists that he can win their backing with the way he handles his new responsibilities

As for the day-to-day business of running the Commons, the new Speaker says that he wants to see "brisker business" with shorter questions and answers, and a "more considered" approach. Asked if he was prepared to discipline the prime minister and the leader of the opposition to achieve this, he answered simply "yes".

For the new Speaker to do a round of TV interviews is itself an innovation. Beyond this, though, I was struck by the fact that a man who's spent 10 years plotting to get this job was very cautious - one might almost say conservative - about the changes he promised.

His style will become apparent this afternoon but it will be intriguing to see when - or if - he unveils the changes which justify his billing as the reform candidate.

Comments

Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    Did you ask if he would make the Prime Minister answer any questions in PMQ? That would be the biggest change he could bring in

  • Comment number 2.

    A clear indication that the labour party are going to lose the
    next election and have no hope in hell on winning and wanted somebody
    that would upset the next governement. Rather than the cosey way
    Mr Martin has dealt with Mr Blair and Brown etc.

    What is good for the goose is not going to be good for the gander etc.

    More sinisism from nulabour

  • Comment number 3.

    Oh who cares indeed?

    Judging from what I hear and read the public couldn't care a damn about this Speaker elect.

    What most want is a general election and a clean slate and if that flushes the Speaker elect down the drain he can pay for his own plumber instead of billing us as in the past.

  • Comment number 4.

    Business as usual then! The bankers can still pay themselves millions in bonus payments and another speaker is elected to the old boys club to carry on this great 18th C act, so much for a modern government...

  • Comment number 5.

    On the question of expenses, only full disclosure will satisfy the public. If MPs knew their constituents would be combing their claims with a fine-tooth comb you can bet they'd keep the list clean. Personally I don't have an issue with reasonable claims for maintaining london flats or for that matter employing your spouse as PA - most family businesses do the same. So let the new speaker concentrate on the real fiddles like tax avoidance and 'researchers' enjoying holidays at the taxpayer's expense, not about bath plugs and dodgy videos.

  • Comment number 6.

    Hi Nick

    This vote was interesting in the way it reflected MPs views.He is considered a reform candidate because he has paid money back but whilst typing this a radio advert has come on about "benefit cheats", as far as I can tell such an option is not offered to them... Indeed the tone sounds rather threatening to me.

    So even a so-called reform cndidate has one rule for the political elite and one for others.

    Not a good start.

  • Comment number 7.

    So we now have a speaker who is supposedly going to sort out sleaze, yet has just confessed to immorally , if not illegally , purloining public funds, returning the falsely claimed money is supposed to make his attempted pocketing of taxpayers' money permissable. He should in fact also be under investigation by the due process of law for fraud. Hopefully his constituents will deselect him before the next election. In spite of all the adverse publicity , the Westminster snouts are intent on continuing to steal at will from the public purse, ably abbetted by the current government. None of their proclamations of " mistakes and oversights " are acceptable, they are thieves and should be treated as such; removal from and debarrment from public office for all those guilty of " mistakes and oversights " should be automatic, and enforceable in law.

  • Comment number 8.

    THANK GOODNESS! IT'S BACK TO BUSINESS AS USUAL .....

    Bercow as Speaker - and nine million quid for the new RBS boss. Ho hum... back to business as usual.

    With any luck the peasants will have forgotten the expenses business by the time we have to have an election.

    Isn't life grand?

  • Comment number 9.

    "Speaking in the palatial splendour of Speaker's House, John Bercow told me that he will not - in future - claim an MP's second home allowance."

    That's awfully big of him to make such a sacrifice and leave himself stranded in this terrible but free hostel for the homeless. A plague on all their grace and favour houses.

  • Comment number 10.

    "Speaking in the palatial splendour of Speaker's House, John Bercow told me that he will not - in future - claim an MP's second home allowance". Deftly put, Nick.

    He can also announce that, since his seat will - by tradition - be uncontested, he needs zero communications budget too...

  • Comment number 11.

    Too fond of his own voice

    Time will tell and I will go along with the view that a
    leopard never changes its spots.

    Browns comments yesterday had me reaching for the sick bowl

    Why do we have to put up with this charade

  • Comment number 12.

    We can but hope that Bercow confounds his critics now he has won the high office of Speaker. Getting Brown to answer a straight question would be a good start.

    However, it is all a sideshow - what we really, really want is a General Election now!

  • Comment number 13.

    I guess what would be interesting for you to explain, Nick, is what practical powers the Speaker has for reform. Apart from controlling the business in the house, as it happens, how does he go about making changes, either to expenses, or the make up of committees, or the way in which the house does work?

  • Comment number 14.

    Getting rid of the stupid wig and breeches would be a start. Plus all the other fancy dress nonsense and procedural gobbledegook that makes parliament look like something out of a Gilbert & Sullivan production.

  • Comment number 15.

    "he won't be claiming a second home allowance"

    Will that be because he gets a home in or next to the Palace of Westminster which goes with the job? Kind of a flat over the shop, so to speak?

    Can that also be because his salary and pension takes a mega leap?

    Is somebody taking us for idiots yet again?


    I think we should make a rumpus and get a speaker in from the PUBLIC. Er, not a political manoeuvre.

  • Comment number 16.

    It's a shame Glenda Jackson didn't stand.....she would have been more like Betty Boothroyd perhaps and has already had some practice in the hot-seat when she played Elizabeth I.......perhaps next time...Or maybe Supernanny; a firm hand is needed to keep those naughty kids in order....

  • Comment number 17.

    #10. At 12:51pm on 23 Jun 2009, Woundedpride wrote:

    "He can also announce that, since his seat will - by tradition - be uncontested, he needs zero communications budget too..."

    Wrong, he still has a constituency to serve and even though the convention between the three main parties is not to contest the Speakers seat at a general election there is nothing to stop anyone else from doing so.

  • Comment number 18.

    Politics is a tough game.
    Rubbish.
    The speaker has a difficult job.
    Rubbish.
    Brown Labour is a load of .....
    RUBBISH!

    If the gelatinous globs of gluttonous goo got off their Ministerial Farces and spent a day in industry, or in a classroom, or in an A&E; they would soon find out what it's like to do a real days work, for real days pay.

    Being an MP is an easy ride.
    Excellent pay, outstanding benefits, gold plated pension,
    superb holidays and don't forget expenses and second homes.

    If being an MP is such a chore, then why does it become the family business?
    Maybe the resident labour flower pot men can answer that one.

    Why should decent, hard working people put up with MPs that have only ever been MPs?
    Honourable Members who have not done a stroke of real work in their lives, who have no life experience, who have not experienced the lifestyle of their electorate.

    Let's not forget MPs from the rancid ranks of the Unions.
    I have known my fair share of union reps and one thing is for sure, there isn't a trough big enough for them to sate their greed.
    Some of them are so addicted to the orgy of gluttony, they spew up, just so they can stuff themselves with more (broken toilet seats galore).

    Come on Britain, wakey wakey.
    Politics isn't everyone's cup of tea, but at least take a look at the human flotsam and jetsam that now rule our country.
    Surely we can do better than this.
    Surely.








  • Comment number 19.

    #11. At 12:52pm on 23 Jun 2009, GrumpyBob wrote:

    "Why do we have to put up with this charade"

    We, or more to the point you, don't have to, there is nothing to stop you standing for parliament, putting your case to your chosen hustings and then if elected putting your case to your fellow MPs.

  • Comment number 20.

    Listening now to Brown's interview on "World at One". What a load of tosh he speaks. All this "root and branch reform" by those who up until now fought tooth and nail to prevent it - is just rubbish.

    NOTHING is required of ANY MPs currently sitting in Parliament except their immediate resignations and a General Election as soon as possible.

    These clowns are still trying to carry on as if anyone could ever trust them again. Don't they realise yet that they're all going to be booted out as soon as we can vote. Unbelievable!

  • Comment number 21.

    Sooner or later there will be a General Election and I sincerely hope that the English public will consign most of these MP's to political history.

    That might seem a bit of a brutal judgement but it isn't really, just politics in a democracy.

    We are very, very lucky to live in a relatively benign democratic environment here in England.

    I am still stunned by the picture of young Neda Soltan dying on the front cover of todays Times.

    Sometimes, a sense of perspective is necessary and our political (and economic) troubles are not really so bad.

  • Comment number 22.

    So there we have it!

    A speaker elected by the opposing party and ostracised by his own.

    A speaker caught with his snout in the public purse.

    Gordon Brown again uttering a few words with a total lack of integrity.

    Transparency! I don't think so!

  • Comment number 23.

    #12. At 12:55pm on 23 Jun 2009, crowdedisland wrote:

    "However, it is all a sideshow - what we really, really want is a General Election now!"

    I bet they do, the euro-sceptics that is, last chance saloon and all that - these people, who keep calling politicians names and calling for an immediate election, are no more interested in sorting out MPs expenses than 'Richard'-Turpin was interested in giving up highway-robbery, their real interests are a few hundred miles away to the north-east...

  • Comment number 24.

    Boilerplated wrote:
    "Why do we have to put up with this charade"

    We, or more to the point you, don't have to, there is nothing to stop you standing for parliament, putting your case to your chosen hustings and then if elected putting your case to your fellow MPs.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------
    Well put. It will be interesting to see how many of the posters outraged by the current state of affairs will get off their backsides and stand in the next election or actively campaign for someone who does.

    I suspect that they will decide that it is much easier to snipe from the sidelines.

  • Comment number 25.

    #19 Boilerplated

    Quite right. I could, but Martin Bell did and won, but what changes did he make ? None, he failed to overcome the party system and wasted his efforts in my view.

    I will stick with the blogs and voting UKIP (since I did a Bercow after 35 years of voting conservative)

    Time will still tell !

  • Comment number 26.

    may be electing a non member of parliment to the duties of speaker would open it up to better choice of person as we have seen from recent problems within the house over various revelations can any mp be neutral enough to do the job openly and fairly ?.
    sadly i dont think they can personaly.

  • Comment number 27.

    It was interesting watching the live broadcast last night as the result was announced. The opposition benches sat arms crossed, stony faced. Brown talking about "an agreement that crosses the house" was so dishonest it almost made the tories gag. Has he ever been straight about anything in his entire life?

  • Comment number 28.

    #23. At 1:28pm on 23 Jun 2009, Boilerplated wrote:

    #12. At 12:55pm on 23 Jun 2009, crowdedisland wrote:

    "However, it is all a sideshow - what we really, really want is a General Election now!"

    I bet they do, the euro-sceptics that is, last chance saloon and all that - these people, who keep calling politicians names and calling for an immediate election, are no more interested in sorting out MPs expenses than 'Richard'-Turpin was interested in giving up highway-robbery, their real interests are a few hundred miles away to the north-east...
    ---------------------------------------------------------------
    Ho Hum! We need a speedy General Election for the following reasons:

    1. The present Government has wrecked the public finances and is borrowing unsustainably large amounts of money. Servicing the debt interest from this scorched earth policy, will cost more than the entire education budget the way things are going. Is that a useful form of "public investment"? We need a General Election so we can get a new Government with the mandate to sort out the public finances - Brown has kicked the issue into the long grass, because he cannot politically do anything about tax and spend before the next election - so we need the election now!

    2. This Parliament has been disgraced by the abuse of ACA and Parliamentary Expenses by MPs (of all parties). There needs to be an election so the voters can pass judgement on their own MPs. Until the Commons is cleansed by an election, it is completely lacks any moral authority (as does the Government).

    Have I answered your comments?

  • Comment number 29.

    PERFECT CHOICE by Liebour MPs - TOTALLY encapsulates what they are - corrupt, snouts in trough, look after ourselves, then Liebour, then overseas, then maybe those who they were meant to govern. Berk and Liebour deserve each other. ANOTHER nail in the coffin of what was once called Democracy. As for so called Political Editors asking any tough?????? questions - forget it.

  • Comment number 30.

    The usual Brown twaddle "greatest reforms ever" "More widespread than ever" "best things since sliced bread, no better even than sliced bread!"
    "taller, higher, wider, deeper, louder than any reforms ever" "only me, only I can do this".

    Blah blah blithering blustering Brown.

    The most obnoxious thing about it is that MPs KNEW what sort of system they were setting up and I doubt for a second that they would be looking to change it without the Telegraph's stories. For Brown to be looking for some sort of moral high ground for cleaning up the cess pit that he presided over is absurd

  • Comment number 31.

    Hi Nick,

    If this election of Bercow is in the interest of the people's parliament then I am Donald Trump.

    Ann Widdecombe was by far and away the choice of the public according to what I've read in various sources. But of course, in this game of pulling one over your opponents Labour wanted to pull one over the other side and here we are.....the best candidate didn't win on the day. How fitting that this would be at the behest of a ruling party totally out of touch with the mood of the public?

    And oooooh...."Speaking in the palatial splendour of Speaker's House, John Bercow told me that he will not - in future - claim an MP's second home allowance."

    How mighty nice of him, gee I am touched that a man who'll earn £145k a year is not claiming for a second home.

  • Comment number 32.

    #14 Speaker Martin got rid of the wig when he was elected and we know how that ended.
    Can't see the wig returning, though it might actually be a good thing to bring back to give a visible signal of the authority of the speakers chair. Re-imposition of the impartiality, probity and honourable traditions of the house (okay laugh now)associated with the role could be what is required.

    Perhaps Nick could also ask to interview Bercows wife as he seems to have moderated all his own views to better coincide with hers, perhaps whatever she thinks should happen is more relevant than what Speaker Bendy currently thinks.

  • Comment number 33.

    #24 I have tried twice and beat the Monster Party. But only ever had a just to do it at a token jesture. Delivered about 200 leaflets, which were denise on detail (did not want a sound-byte effort) but detail that people could think about and engage with. Got around 50 votes.

    it was only a council ward election. Apparently some of the other delivered around 15,000 leaflets with there little armies of helpers

  • Comment number 34.

    19. At 1:16pm on 23 Jun 2009, Boilerplated wrote:
    #11. At 12:52pm on 23 Jun 2009, GrumpyBob wrote:

    "Why do we have to put up with this charade"

    We, or more to the point you, don't have to, there is nothing to stop you standing for parliament, putting your case to your chosen hustings and then if elected putting your case to your fellow MPs.

    ================================

    Putting aside the cost of a deposit & mounting a campaign you forget that due to our fantastice party poltical closed shop that if you are an independant no-one will listen to anything you have to say because your'e not a member of the club.

    seriously, when was the last time you heard an independant speak in a debate?

    You could try to enlist yourself as a fifth column in one of the 3 parties, but if you got as far as parliament you'd find yourself either a slave to the whips or out in the cold or even expelled from the party.

    The present system is designed to keep those outside of the mainstream (defined by them) outside.

    I think the political games they played over the speaker elections is once again proof that party politics has little to do with the national interest.

    They didn't vote for the person they thought would do the best job, they voted for the one they thought would most annoy the opposition.

  • Comment number 35.

    #29 as well as an election to clear out parliament, these is also the issue of political editors and reporters at the BBC and actually how they perform there roles and the use of tax payers monies.

  • Comment number 36.

    4. At 12:13pm on 23 Jun 2009, mvan99 wrote:

    Business as usual then! The bankers can still pay themselves millions in bonus payments and another speaker is elected to the old boys club to carry on this great 18th C act, so much for a modern government...

    Can I suggest a maximum wage?

  • Comment number 37.

    The new speaker really only needs to remember one thing.

    That is that parliament and its members have just about lost all credibility with the UK public and, more specifically with the UK electorate.

    That is an enormous crisis and one that will have consequences and sequels for many years to come upon many aspects of UK government, politics and democracy.

    It is not a 'photo-opportunity', quick 'bit of spin', type of problem and some serious soul-searching is going to have to happen before MPs win back the public trust.

    At worst, it could ensure that future elections become meaningless as more and more people ask themselves, "why bother?" or conclude that, "None of these doughnuts are worth going out to the Voting Station and writing down a 'x' for!"

    So, dear Mr Speaker, how will parliament continue if say the next general election has only a 10 or 15 percent turn-out? Just keep the heads down and pretend nothing has happened, perhaps? (After all, the MPs, even if voted in by one hundredth of one per cent of the electorate will still get their pay and expenses, won't they?

  • Comment number 38.

    35. At 2:28pm on 23 Jun 2009, IR35_SURVIVOR wrote:
    #29 as well as an election to clear out parliament, these is also the issue of political editors and reporters at the BBC and actually how they perform there roles and the use of tax payers monies.

    =========================

    cool, you just come up with a definition of 'bias' 'impartiality' and 'neutrality' that everyone can agree on & isn't based on relative individual perspectives, and we can get started.

  • Comment number 39.

    #31. At 2:08pm on 23 Jun 2009, kingrgs78 wrote:

    "Ann Widdecombe was by far and away the choice of the public according to what I've read in various sources. But of course, in this game of pulling one over your opponents..//.."

    Err, I think the real reason Miss Widdecombe didn't win might have been the fact that she had already made it known that she was leaving Parliament within the next 10 months (though she had made 'noises' about staying on but had not said she would, if I recall correctly), could it be that MPs were looking for a long term Speaker, knowing that reform of parliament, form, function and costs is not going to be a 'quick-fix'?...

  • Comment number 40.

    #32. At 2:16pm on 23 Jun 2009, Whistling_Neil wrote:

    "[in reply to #14] Speaker Martin got rid of the wig when he was elected...//..."

    Incorrect, Betty Boothroyd refused to use the wig when she because Speaker, Martin followed her example on her succession.

  • Comment number 41.

    Will the new speaker hold the government to it's own standards?

    Gordon Brown promised parliament that announcements would be made to the house, not to the media. Despite this promise, only this morning, Brown made yet another announcement to the "Today" program (probably because of the generally sycophantic attitude of their presenters towards the Labour party). Will Bercow hold Brown to account?

    Additionally, why does the BBC conspire with the Labour party to evade Brown's promises? The BBC could have turned the microphone off as soon as Brown started making policy announcements. Why didn't they? Possibly because the BBC has abandoned even the pretence of political neutrality in favour of broadcasting Labour propaganda.

  • Comment number 42.

    28. At 1:48pm on 23 Jun 2009, crowdedisland wrote:

    "Ho Hum! We need a speedy General Election for the following reasons:"

    The reasons don't matter. You're not going to get one! It's just not the way it works.

    And even if a billion people demanded and election on every blog in the country - it still wouldn't cause one to happen.

    You equally won't get a proper say in who ends up as prime minister - that will be determined by the people who get voted in as MPs, even if only one person has turned out to vote in a constituency.

    Our parliamentary 'system' is only democratic to some degree and then only if lots of people believe in the system, trust the politicians and bother to vote.

    It was never designed to - because the need was never perceived that it might have to - work with high levels of voter apathy, low voting turn outs and high levels of dis-satisfaction amongst the electorate with the honour and integrity of politicians.

  • Comment number 43.

    41:

    I imagine the thought of having a captive TV audience in front of him was too big an opportunity to miss out on. The new Speaker should give him a rap on the knuckles for retreating into the bad old habit of making policy announcements away from Parliament.

  • Comment number 44.

    We are now stuck with a government bereft of ideas vision and credibility and a speaker so tainted by the expenses saga himself he is unlikely to be pushing too hard for too much reform.

    We are at an impasse where the deselection of all MP's tainted by the expenses scandal has become an impossibility because of the numbers involved and the dire effect it would have on all parties.

    The selection of Bercow will give them all a breather in which to try to appease the voters before the next election. Perhaps this is necessary so parliament can at least get on with other crucial matters that continue unabated.

    The world didn't stop and they have taken their eye off the ball on many of the issues that are building up around us.

    The electorate will always have the final say.

  • Comment number 45.

    #38
    #41

    and maybe this is where we need to start the PM+cabinat are not allowed by law to use the BBC interviews to announce policy it has to be before the house first, then there is time to prepare the proper questions.

    But the system has to change as its broken, the question is to recognise its broken first and why the start to define what is required to fix it.

    and that would be more than what could be put on this blog

  • Comment number 46.

    GoBro was up to his old tricks on Wato. He has apparently always been in favour of an Open Public Inquiry and still thinks that it is only the Tories that will have to cut public expenditure.

    If he is reading this I will speak very slowly so he can understand:
    Whoever is in Government after the next election will have to slash public expenditure because they will have to pay back government debt incurred by GoBro and Aldar. Those of us who actually pay tax have reached the maximum that we will pay, any further increase will reduce the tax received by government.

    On his suggestion that he might go back to teaching God help the students. You can tell GoBro but not a lot.

  • Comment number 47.

    41. At 2:50pm on 23 Jun 2009, Cynosarges wrote:
    Will the new speaker hold the government to it's own standards?

    Gordon Brown promised parliament that announcements would be made to the house, not to the media. Despite this promise, only this morning, Brown made yet another announcement to the "Today" program (probably because of the generally sycophantic attitude of their presenters towards the Labour party). Will Bercow hold Brown to account?

    Additionally, why does the BBC conspire with the Labour party to evade Brown's promises? The BBC could have turned the microphone off as soon as Brown started making policy announcements. Why didn't they? Possibly because the BBC has abandoned even the pretence of political neutrality in favour of broadcasting Labour propaganda.

    =============

    if Brown wants to publically break promises he's made to the house by announcing policies on national TV why should the BBC conspire to retrieve the situation for him by halting the broadcast?

    now that would be bias.

  • Comment number 48.

    #42. At 2:53pm on 23 Jun 2009, Sutara wrote:

    28. At 1:48pm on 23 Jun 2009, crowdedisland wrote:

    "Ho Hum! We need a speedy General Election for the following reasons:"

    The reasons don't matter. You're not going to get one! It's just not the way it works.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    I know you are correct in the basics, but there is the whiff of insurrection in the air. You only have to read the blogs across the spectrum to see there is a huge, pent up demand for an early General Election. The longer Brown delays on this, the worse it will be for Labour when that election is eventually called.

    As I pointed out in my earlier post, there are serious issues to be resolved which have been kicked into the long grass after any election - we cannot afford to wait until next Spring to start sorting out the black hole in our public finances, so something is going to have to give!

    Take to the streets and demand an election - it is the only way!

  • Comment number 49.

    There is no " new style speaker " just the same old drivel and balderdash to which we've grown accustomed from politicians and political pundits.

    I am ashamed of the House of Commons , I am ashamed of the House of Lords.

    I would lie to think that some of the " Honourable " members have the wit and wisdom to be ashamed of themselves but it would seem unlikely.

  • Comment number 50.

    You'd be better off entitling this article - a new style of politics - rather than speaker.

    The truth is that in just the space of four years while newlabour has grimly clung onto power, mangled the economy and blamed everyone else in the process the great British public has managed to:

    Chuck newlabour out of control of the Scottish Parliament.

    Chuck newlabour out of control of Edinburgh council

    Chuck newlabour out of control of all the county councils in the whole of England.

    Chuck newlabour out of the London mayorality

    Get rid of the worst speaker on record who was newlabour too.

    Give newlabour only 5% countrywide support in the European elections.


    All this, yet still the BBC manage to go on believing that somehow the great Gordon Brown can pull the big one off..

    His ministers are booed on Question Time yet they still put themselves up for the job of speaker.

    Gordon Brown is booed by ninety year old veterans at Dunkerque yet still he bleats on about not walking away.

    If ever there was a man and a party that had gone well past their sell by dates it is this bunch of utterly shameless losers and their shambles of a party.

    Call an election.

  • Comment number 51.

    21. At 1:27pm on 23 Jun 2009, JohnConstable wrote:
    Sooner or later there will be a General Election and I sincerely hope that the English public will consign most of these MP's to political history.

    Indeed there will, and indeed they shall. The problem is, what dross, with even less experience and who is to say any more integrity will be there to replace them? What, precisely would a 'general election now' do to solve the problem? Same old electoral system, higher salaries, same old trough, just a different set of second-rate snouts. Or perhaps third-rate snouts.
    And, to whoever it was that suggested that I stand for parliament. It's a great idea but it won't work. I'm a bit too old for the X-Factor circus that will be the next general election, I wouldn't get through it without taking a swing at a reporter, and anyway I probably couldn't do a better job than the incumbent Geraldine Smith.
    I wouldn't mind getting my hands on all that loot though...I'll think about it.

  • Comment number 52.

    #48. At 3:22pm on 23 Jun 2009, crowdedisland wrote:

    "Take to the streets and demand an election - it is the only way!"

    Indeed, it is probably the only way to get the reading of the riot act, or is this 'demand for an election' going to be nothing more than a damp squib...

  • Comment number 53.

    "[Brown} told Radio 4's World at One it was the biggest ever reform of Parliament."

    Clearly and obviously it is no such thing. He's attempting to reform the expenses system, that's all.

    Brown just loves projecting the delusional image he has of himself as some sort of towering political giant bestride the world of tiny people who depend so much on him.

    He's clearly bonkers. Blair KNEW when he was lying, Brown has convinced himself he is telling the truth. Even more so, he's convonced himself that the mere fact that he is saying something makes it true. If Blair said he could fly, he'd know he was lying, some people might think they can fly and say so but Brown believes that if he says he can fly, this will mean that he can.

  • Comment number 54.

    goldCaesar @ 34

    You are right to be concerned as to how effective can an independent MP be, even assuming that they can be elected.

    I believe that Sir Paul Judge has tried to address this issue via his creation named 'The Jury Team', which provides a overarching support network for independents who wish to challenge the existing 'big three' political cartel.

    It would be worth looking into this and I commend Sir Paul Judge for this very timely initiative, which is sorely needed to improve our English democracy.

  • Comment number 55.

    52. At 3:43pm on 23 Jun 2009, Boilerplated wrote:
    #48. At 3:22pm on 23 Jun 2009, crowdedisland wrote:

    "Take to the streets and demand an election - it is the only way!"

    Indeed, it is probably the only way to get the reading of the riot act, or is this 'demand for an election' going to be nothing more than a damp squib...
    =======

    of course it would mean that we'd all have to stop blogging for a bit ....

  • Comment number 56.

    A new style of Speaker? Personally I doubt it, but we must I suppose, give him the benefit of the doubt.
    If he means business, he will act quickly and:
    1) Reprimand Government ministers (including the PM) when they make announcements through the media rather than to the House,
    2) Let it be known that future publication of MPs' expenses will be based on the "Daily Telegraph" template rather than last Thursday's farcical publication by the House Commons, and
    3) Set in motion the means to enable the House to pass a resolution requiring the election of select committees by secret ballot thus emasculating the Whips and beginning the process of restoring power to the Legislature.
    Actions speak louder than words especially from a Speaker who sees "nothing wrong" with manipulation by an MP of his/her second-home designation - a loophole only available to our legislators - to avoid paying Capital Gains Tax. In any event, why does a Member representing Buckingham need a second home?
    But we should give him a chance - at least until the elction which cannot come soon enough.

  • Comment number 57.

    The first rule of the new Speaker then:
    "Thou shalt not make new policy statements outside the confines of The Houses of Parliament".

  • Comment number 58.

    Nick -- when you speak with the "Speaker" next why not ask him to do what the greater public wants -- dissolve parliament & CALL AN ELECTION before Brown does any more damage

  • Comment number 59.

    51. At 3:42pm on 23 Jun 2009, Its_an_Outrage wrote:

    # 51. At 3:42pm on 23 Jun 2009, Its_an_Outrage wrote:
    21. At 1:27pm on 23 Jun 2009, JohnConstable wrote:
    Sooner or later there will be a General Election and I sincerely hope that the English public will consign most of these MP's to political history.

    Indeed there will, and indeed they shall. The problem is, what dross, with even less experience and who is to say any more integrity will be there to replace them? What, precisely would a 'general election now' do to solve the problem? Same old electoral system, higher salaries, same old trough, just a different set of second-rate snouts. Or perhaps third-rate snouts.
    _______________________________________________________________________

    I have tried to explain this ad nauseum - the present Government has lost all its political and moral authority and is like a rabbit stuck in the headlights. We need a new Government with a fresh mandate to do necessary things like addressing the chronic state of the nation's public finances before we go bust, instead of after we go bust. That means an early General Election - geddit???

  • Comment number 60.

    anyone who thinks that the BBC is biased towards Labour, clearly has never seen an episode of Newsnight, or the Daily Politics, or listened to the Today programme, or PM, to name but a few.

    We have reached a sorry state of affairs in this country, where it seems that the majority have already decided that Bercow's speakership is going to be a disaster. This cynicism shows that people's ability to even contemplate someone with the desire to change parliament could be genuine, makes it even more important that the new Speaker is the 'clean break candidate' he described himself as. People should give him a chance, before he is consigned to the dusty pages of history.

  • Comment number 61.

    This new speaker sounds like a drone. Let him have the job... clearly it is just a typical British cushty number, something for his family to be proud of and for the rest of us to say "Whatever!"

  • Comment number 62.

    "a man who's spent 10 years plotting to get this job."

    Why?

    He may nor may not be a good man, he may or may not has hidden agenda.
    Who does he really serve? Does he spend 10 years plotting because he really, full hearted want to serve the UK public and only the UK public?

    I am keeping my doubts and my fingers crossed.

    On transparency. The new speaker must make transparent lobbying by lobbists, UK and foreign, finnancial, commercial, personal, military and political.

  • Comment number 63.

    Another day, another quiver of the needle of Gordo's moral compass.
    This time it is telling us it cannot (!) be right that MPs decide their own expenses or allowances or even the rules that govern them.

    But Great Oracle surely an implicit assumption that MPs as a whole are untrustworthy is a fatal contradiction at the very heart of our whole conception of democratic government.

    Any fool can see that surely, never mind a Great Oracle.

    Question

    When, in the whole period of its alleged existence, has Gordon Brown's moral compass ever been seen to have clearly pointed him to a sound judgement call on any issue of any description? Enlighten me please someone, the Oracle is driving me crazy.

  • Comment number 64.

    I'm all for Parliament being "cleaned up" and "reformed", but to me there remains a large element of smokescreen to the entire exercise.
    In the run - up to the Euro Election there was much talk (usually from UKIP) about just how little of our legislation is now home - grown, with figures in the order of 75% being quoted as being the amount of work that is actually doing no more than enacting EU Directives into UK Law. I have no recollection of anyone challenging that figure, so I assume that it was not far out.
    Not small matters such as the "West Lothian Question" remain unaddressed, and I have no lively hope of that changing. Now I firmly believe that while the number of MPs may have been correct in previous times, faster personal travel, coupled with faster communications, results in the number of 646 (or thereabouts) being just far too many bottoms on seats in the Palace of Westminster. Add to the mix things like the existence of National Parliaments or Assemblies in Scotland and Wales, leaving the basic constitution of Parliament (in the physical meaning of the word) unchanged is indefensible. We certainly do not need that number of people to rubber stamp EU Commission directives, even if they have been gold - plated during their translation into English, as has been frequently observed.
    I suppose it's too much to hope that there will be a *proper* review of Parliament that not only makes it transparently honest, procedurally correct but structurally correct for the role it actually has?
    Even less likely is its insistence on our behalf that *it* is the correct legislative assembly for the UK, not Brussels.
    If Capt. Mainwaring were about I think he could only say "Stupid Boy" to that idea.
    If only...

  • Comment number 65.

    I think, perhaps, this Parliament now has the Speaker it deserves. One of his first statements was to the effect that the majority of MP's were honest, and there for the benefit of the people. This is patently untrue, would he not have been better advised to announce the publication of a list of the MP's who had NOT taken advantage of the expenses fiddle, as it surely was, so that those not on the list, including himself, could be disposed of at the General Election, whenever that will be. If we are honest with ourselves, isnt it just possible that this sad collection of MP's in fact reflect the society we live in and the depths to which we all have sunk. Very rarely a day goes by without a shocking story of man's inhumanity to man [or children], and each time we think it can't get worse...but it does. It is not only Parliament that has experienced the debasement of authoritarian figures, look at the Police for example......... In any event this joke of a Parliament together with its poser of a Speaker will eventually pass into memory. Roll on.

  • Comment number 66.

    So we now hear today from John Bercow that he will not be taking any money in cash Allowances for a Second Home. Wow!,what News for I should think not given the FACT that he now has a Grace and Favour Home that goe's along with the Job of Speaker, so who doe's HE think he's kidding - the Tax-Payer?, or is this one of HIS ideas to tinker around with falling over himself to Fix a broken down Parliamentary System.

    Anymore ideas like this and we will ALL fall about laughing, that is of course if the current corruption at Westminster was not as it is Serious.

  • Comment number 67.

    #59

    "I have tried to explain this ad nauseum - the present Government has lost all its political and moral authority and is like a rabbit stuck in the headlights. We need a new Government with a fresh mandate to do necessary things like addressing the chronic state of the nation's public finances before we go bust, instead of after we go bust. That means an early General Election - geddit???"

    That may or may not be so, but under our (unwritten) constitution it is in the gift of the PM to decide when the election is going to be - remember that if you rock the boat to much on this the next time that your 'government of choice' is in power I'm sure that you would not wish to have the same accusation made against it and thus forced out without the required vote of confidence being moved and won by the opposition, would you - Geddit???

  • Comment number 68.

    #7 kaybraes
    "Hopefully his constituents will deselect him before the next election"

    Indeed they should, but sadly his former party will likely "follow convention" and not oppose him as neither will the unLib unDems. If a "clean up politics" independent is going to get anywhere, this should be the best seat to try. Esther Rantzen for Buckingham, perhaps?

    Post or reactive moderation for all except CBeebies, please!

  • Comment number 69.

    59. At 4:16pm on 23 Jun 2009, crowdedisland wrote:
    I have tried to explain this ad nauseum - the present Government has lost all its political and moral authority and is like a rabbit stuck in the headlights. We need a new Government with a fresh mandate to do necessary things like addressing the chronic state of the nation's public finances before we go bust, instead of after we go bust. That means an early General Election - geddit???

    Nope, sorry, I still don't quite geddit. We don't need another second-rate government, whichever side of the House they sit. Also, I'm afraid that this incessant shouting for an early general election is about as useful as a football chant. It's not going to happen. Let me explain. The decision can only be made by the government (or perhaps, admittedly, the Army), and as it's not in their interest to call an election at the monment, they are probably not going to.

  • Comment number 70.

    64. "Not small matters such as the "West Lothian Question" remain unaddressed, and I have no lively hope of that changing."

    Rather off-topic but have always wondered, does the west lothian question also apply to London MPs as London also enjoys devolution along with Wales N.I. and Scotland?

  • Comment number 71.

    Boilerplated #17: Wrong yourself, actually. His need for communication with his constituents about the sterling work he is doing as their advocate on HoC Select Committees, on the floor of the House, on overseas missions and in debate will be significantly reduced now that he cannot participate in that way. Surgeries will stay, of course, and the letters to Ministers, but those won't figure in his communications cost claims.

    Of course, he may need some money to circulate one of the usual self-aggrandizing news-sheets prepared by our MPs that help to replenish our recycling bins, featuring valuable pictures of photo opportunities at the local swinmming baths...

    As for the likelihood of no contest for his seat, whatever happens at that point he will need to register election expenses, not HoC communications costs, to support his reelection. Of course, there is every opportunity that some disaffected renegade Tory will oppose him.

  • Comment number 72.

    re:39 Boilerplated

    The fact that Anne Widdecombe would only have been speaker for a year or so was surely positive - she could have facilitated the necessary radical reforms without having to worry about the old guard and her her political "career". She would have done the job for all the right reasons and not been sidetracked by all the wrong ones.

    Look at the reaction of the public to last night's vote.
    Now think about how different the reaction would have been if Ms. Widdecombe had been chosen.

    I rest my case m'lud.

  • Comment number 73.

    #60 I have first hand experience of the BBC. As said before had them in a pincer movement with a friend that showed beyond any doubt that they are bais and filter the news agenda to a particular view QED

  • Comment number 74.

    It has been proposed today that those MPs who knowingly fiddle their expenses (fraud) stand a chance (some hope) of being sentenced to 12 months imprisonment. Now if Joe Bloggs did the same in the course of his employment and found himself at the local Crown Court he could probably pick up far more than 12 months and he is unlikely to be in a position of such trust as that of an MP. Why are MPs treating themselves so differently? Are they so outside the law. A good number of MPs are lawyers and it seems their fingerpints are all over this proposed legislation.

    Its just the same old faces - same old rhetoric. Nothing is going to change, even with a new Speaker. Once the summer recess is over, Parliament will settle back into its old ways - knowing full well that there will be no further disclosures from the Telegraph.

    The only way we are going to see a real change of mood in the country towards Parliament is for there to be a General Election - and it cannot come a minute too soon.


  • Comment number 75.

    #72. At 6:08pm on 23 Jun 2009, expatinnetherlands wrote:

    "Look at the reaction of the public to last night's vote.
    Now think about how different the reaction would have been if Ms. Widdecombe had been chosen."


    You mean, rather than all but the 'nose out of joint Tories' applauding Mr Bercow on his election there would have been all the Tories clapping whilst everyone else sat on their hands...

    Just face the facts, even many Tories weren't voting for Widdecombe, look at the voting figures, if they had been Widdecombe would have replaced Sir George Young in the final ballot.

  • Comment number 76.

    In theory, Bercow could do 2 things which are guaranteed to gain him the respect of the entire electorate:

    1) Expenses; ask Brown why he needs to setup endless committees and quangos to police their expenses and to work out what those expenses should be, when instead they can simply say "we'll live under the same laws as the rest of the country does; we'll just do what HMRC allows other people to do."

    2) Force Brown to answer questions at PMQs; if Brown refuses to do so then he needs to get Brown physically ejected from the House.

    Both of these things are things which the speaker should be doing as a matter of course; it's his job. If he does so then he'll gain huge respect in the electorate. If he fails to do so then he'll be seen as no better than Martin.

    Remember that by classing something like furnishing a second home as an expense (not taxable) rather than a perk (taxable), MPs have committed blatent/basic tax fraud; the fact that their own "rules" themselves broke the law in this respect does not mean that they should be allowed to get away with it.

    MPs; play by the same basic tax laws as you force everyone else to live under; stop this insane "rule-committee" mentality and simply abide by the law. Contrary to what the BBC tries to spin on your behalf, there are people other than MPs who have more than one office, and those people are not allowed to invent their own rules to avoid tax on perks. You want to know why people are angry with you? It's simply because you don't play by the same rules that you force onto the electorate, what you do is illegal, immoral, and just plain unfair.

  • Comment number 77.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 78.

    MP's have not taken on board there pay and expenses they are trying to take us for as much as they can and

    The bankers are just taking us as mugs Shareholders who gave their assent to the package proposed for Mr Hester included UK Financial Investments, the arm of the Treasury, which manages taxpayers' 70% stake in Royal Bank. some civil servant who wants to be on the gravy train

    The targets are a joke Mr Hester will not have any trouble in hitting such low targets

    In respect of the 6.4m long-term part, half is payable if the share price were to hit 375p (compared with 37.5p this morning)then that would be a target that would be worth paying him for that but to take the share price from 37.5p to 70p they are having a laugh they must think we are idiots

    Fill your pockets at the tax payers expense they don't mind They will just pick up the bill over the next 50 years

    His pay should of not been more than 250,000.00 per year

  • Comment number 79.

    a new style of speaker ? ... maybe, but a very old style of Tory Party. Political picture of the week has to be Cameron desperately, pleadingly trying to get his own MPs to have the good grace to clap the new speaker as he was dragged to the chair, without much success.... so, as usual, Tories dont like the will of the majority expressed through a secret ballot... unless it corresponds with their own views ... and this is the party that will, barring some astonishing fluke, form our government for the next few decades .... Oh Dear !

  • Comment number 80.

    Could someone please explain why we need a general election and soon?
    What would really radically change?
    We would still have far too many MPs and Lords.
    Their expense system would only be slightly modified.
    They'd still be in their palatial Palaces of Westminster which must cost us an absolute fortune.
    Their 'grace and favour' accommodation would continue (look at the Speaker).
    We'd still have contituencies where people would vote for a donkey as long as it belonged to their political party. A decent Independent wouldn't stand a chance.
    This is probably, for many years, the only chance the electorate has to force this archaic parliamentary system to downsize and modernise.

  • Comment number 81.

    Some weeks ago I wrote a comment on another Blog Article in which I explained that I would not stand as a canadidate for MP to the UK Parliament as I really couldn't stand the thought of having to shower every hour to clean off having spent time amongst the corruption, venality and shere hypocrisy of the Palace of Westminster (this was pre-MPs' expenses scandal).

    Not to put it too mildly, Mr John Bercow, newly elected Speaker was exactly the sort of greasy individual I had in mind.

    For this flipper of 2 mortgages to have been elected Speaker by this 650 gross dullards is the final piece of the evidence to reveal Parliament is utterly unrepresentative of the Citizens of the UK.

    A plague, a plague of everything rotten on both Chambers! And soon! The sooner the better!

  • Comment number 82.

    Personally I would have prefered to see Ann Widecombe as Speaker. After all she has announced that she is standing down at the next election so there is no worry about if she would make a good speaker and reform the House of Commons or not.
    Saying that....after the next election it is unlikely that many of the current MPs will be taking up their positions on the benches for the next session.
    Is it me or.....does it just seem that Parliament has 'lost the plot'

  • Comment number 83.

    Sorry but this blog, like so many others, is just becoming a 'rantathon'...

  • Comment number 84.

    I had not really heard of John Bercow until the speaker contest but I saw him being interviewed on TV tonight.

    I don't know what it is about him and his mannerisms but it is easy to see why people may not like him. I don't know why ! He just seems to ooze insincerity and I wouldn't trust him at all. Unfair comments I know as I've never met him or know much about him, but to me that is how he comes across.

  • Comment number 85.

    Can we have a reality check here Nick? Let me see. Bercow's journey was from Tory to Tory to Tory. How is this such an extraordinary journey when Alistair Darling and Gordon Brown went from being radical socialists (Marxist in Darling's case or perhaps he preferred being known as the more distinct Trot.) who didn't think radical socialism was nearly radical enough, to cheer leaders for unfettered free market capitalism. Now that's what I call a political journey.. Bercow was wrongly swayed by Powell and by Thatcher's excesses and suckered into Brown's big tent. But it's all relative. Not an edifying political journey perhaps but at least one within the bounds of reason unlike the journey of both Brown and Darling. Which is precisely why we are in the mess we are in today, being stewarded by pilots with no core of being and absolutely no instinct for capitalism and its often wayward ways. When Mr Brown does arrive in the world of academe no doubt he will start lecturing everyone with the benefit of a 2020 rearview mirror. The historian's conceit.

  • Comment number 86.

    #83 Boilerplated wrote:

    Sorry but this blog, like so many others, is just becoming a 'rantathon'...

    ---------------------

    Does this mean you will never post on here again?

    (Please, please, please...)

  • Comment number 87.

    New laws target rule-breaking MPs

    This is just fluff. As we know all-to-well most of the claims made by MPs were inside of the cosy set of rules that they created for themselves. The few that fall outside of the rules are open to fraud investigation.

    Typical nu-lab when in a fix legislate and hope it is mistaken for real action

  • Comment number 88.

    No change there then Nick

    As your colleague Waugh at the standard points out

    Why hasn't Bercow called upon Brown for announcing the MP code of conduct on the World at One when Harriet was to make the announcement to the house later the same day

    If Bercow still allows the planted questions for policy announcements too then surely we just have Martin jnr?

    Would that be sufficient to tip the public opinion?

  • Comment number 89.

    #83 Boilerplated wrote:

    Sorry but this blog, like so many others, is just becoming a 'rantathon'...

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    Boilerplated has posted 12 times on this one blog, yet do not see the irony in complaining about this blog turning into a "rantathon"!, I see a new job as an MP opening up for Boilerplated!.

  • Comment number 90.

    Boilerplated and #83.

    People complaining! A 'rantathon'!

    Why would that be?

    1) Failure to keep promise for a Referendum on the EU Constitution.
    2) Failure to keep promise for a Referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.
    3) Failure for 1 of 650 MPs and Cabinet Ministers to resign at once from post due to Expenses scandal.
    4) Failure to keep promise of more 'open', 'transparent' Government by deliberate Censorship of published Official MPs' Expenses Claim returns.
    5) Failure to acknowledge wrongdoing and arrest, charge and prosecution of MPs for knowingly submitting Expense claims ranging from 'compost bag' to 'duck house' to 'filial MP assistant living 200 miles from Parliament' to 'continuing claim on 2 paid up mortgages' and so on.
    6) Failure to accept Parliament needs root and branch Reform as indicated by election of 2 x 'residence flipper' John Bercow as Speaker.
    7) Failure by Messrs Brown, Cameron, Clegg et al to set an example - - all 3 had 'inadvertent' expense claims that were unworthy of people in such high office.
    8) Failure to complete Reform the House of Lords
    9) Failure to recognise or do anything about the 'Democratic defecit' in UK/England Politics until the Daily Telegraph rubbed their noses in it.
    10) Failure to acknowledge England is the only Nation of the UK without its own Parliament.

    'Rant'!?

    If it were any other Nation but the civilised, patient and lenient British there would 650+ heads on poles alongside the Thames by now!

  • Comment number 91.

    i'm still not convinced the public gives one jot who the speaker of the house of commons is and that a lot of fuss is being made over what should be a position that doesn't attract attention.

    www.fsnreportersblog.com

  • Comment number 92.

    ikam @ 90

    Failure by Messrs Brown, Cameron and Clegg to set an example - - all 3 had 'inadvertent' expense claims that were unworthy of people in such high office

    good point, well made

  • Comment number 93.

    Oh well!...at least the Iranians had the illusion of a vote for their leader!

  • Comment number 94.

    #90 ikamaskeip

    "10) Failure to acknowledge England is the only Nation of the UK without its own Parliament

    If it were any other Nation but the civilised, patient and lenient British"

    Presumably the "British" were OK with a UK Parliament. A majority of Scots, Welsh and Irish campaigned for their own Parliaments/Assemblies. If the English want their own Parliament, all they have to do is vote for it - not a difficult task!

    If you want one, then don't blame any of the other nations in the UK, if you haven't bothered.

  • Comment number 95.

    The manner and obviously spiteful, perverse spirit in which Bercow has been elected Speaker show clearly the character of the current membership of Parliament.

    There these corrupt MPs remain, dug in for another year. Resentful, truculent, looking to grab what booty remains and self-justifying to the last. Their only regret is that they have been found out and will shortly be forced off the grtavy train.

    Whether or not Bercow is any good as Speaker is beside the point. He's soiled goods. The first act of a new Parliament (when we actually get an election) must be to dismiss him immediately and replace him with a new face.

    Please God, let this farce end soon.

  • Comment number 96.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 97.

    There is so much dissatisfaction expressed on this newslog, I am beginning to think it is caused by some kind of mass negative downward spiral triggered by the recession.
    There was a lobby for a public inquiry into the Iraq war, it is partly granted, there are still grumbles, it seems no inquiry will be good enough.
    There was a cry for the resignation of the speaker, he resigned.
    A new speaker has been elected. Can he really be so unpopular after barely a day in office, that there is talk of getting rid of him already?
    I have read everything contributors have written above and these lines from Samuel Beckett came into my mind:

    "You cried for night. It falls. Now cry in the darkness."

  • Comment number 98.

    saga 92

    Very keen on your Cameron story, Saga, aren't you? But I'm starting to work out what has wound you up. It's the way he had a certain climbing plant torn down from his house, isn't it? I think you are concealing something from us all. Are you President of the Wisteria Preservation Society?

  • Comment number 99.

    #69. At 5:39pm on 23 Jun 2009, Its_an_Outrage wrote:

    Nope, sorry, I still don't quite geddit. We don't need another second-rate government, whichever side of the House they sit. Also, I'm afraid that this incessant shouting for an early general election is about as useful as a football chant. It's not going to happen. Let me explain. The decision can only be made by the government (or perhaps, admittedly, the Army), and as it's not in their interest to call an election at the monment, they are probably not going to.
    -----------------------------------------------------------
    It is clear that Brown is selling this country to Hell and back with his public sector borrowing. That means one way or another, we have to force a General Election this side of Christmas - preferably in the early autumn. I don't care what it takes, street protests, strikes in crucial energy industries, riots and mahem - we the people must force this Government to the polls!
    It can be done - all it takes is force of will, tenacity and courage. Any Government only survives because the people let it!

  • Comment number 100.

    #99 crowdedisland

    (Actually, my bit of your "crowded island" isn't crowded at all, and our Government would welcome more immigration)

    "Any Government only survives because the people let it!"

    Nice to see you rejecting the English idea of Parliamentary Sovereignty and engaging with most of the rest of the world in the idea that sovereignty lies with the people.

 

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