John Bercow: more meme than man

John Bercow, speaker of the House of Commons, MP for Buckinghamshire, former Tory, alleged bully and, according to The Daily Mail, ‘egotistical preening popinjay’, is to hang up his robe.

This living, breathing internet star, more meme than man, has provided light relief the length and breadth of Europe during the interminable cluster-hump that is Brexit.

Admonishing ministers one moment, enacting archaic seventeenth century parliamentary precedent the next, and sprinkling the whole show with his catch-phrase.

‘Order…orrrr-derrr…ordeugghh…ordr, ordr.’

Where once the speaker of the house took a back seat Bercow is more hands on. Front and centre. Not so much driving the car as sprawled across the bonnet, legs akimbo, clinging to the windscreen wipers and directing traffic.

Truth is, most of us haven’t the faintest idea of whether he was a good speaker of the house or not. We haven’t given it much thought. As far as we can tell the job boils down to crowd control.


He’s responsible for verbally spanking the Eton boys and enforcing the rules; except when the rules get the wrong result, whereupon he unfurls his massive copy of the ‘Big Book o’ Parliamentary Procedure,’ locates some ancient loophole, and goes with that instead.

All of which, upon his departure, will no doubt leave us with some dull, grey, establishment-friendly version as a counter to ‘The Bercow Years.’ Our gaze will have nowhere to alight but on the actual politicians, from both sides, as they continue to set a horrible example of non-co-operation to the nation.

Bercow, I have little doubt, will remain in the spotlight.

He’ll write a book, he’ll probably do Strictly, and who knows, maybe he’ll even tread the boards. The smell of greasepaint and the roar of the crowd. He strikes me as a bloke who, at some point, has half-drunkenly uttered the words: ‘it causes me great anguish that I’ve never had the chance to show the world my Hamlet.’

Once he’s faded, in a decade or so, from public view, it seems highly likely that he’ll reprise his role in some cheap Freeview game show.

Presiding over hapless contestants with mock authority. Calling for ‘Order…orrr-derrr…’ at the drop of a hat. Like Parliament, but with prizes.

While Brexit, interminably, continues to be debated somewhere in Westminster.


(Image: Can Pac Swire via Flickr CC)