Bercow being even handed? You decide

Paul Waugh and then ConservativeHome flagged up an exchange which took place yesterday in the Commons during an Urgent question on the BA strike.

Tory Radio is pleased to bring you an extract of the audio so that you can decide if the Speaker was being even handed to both sides. Seemingly Speaker Bercow seemed to say that questions needed to focus solely on the issue of the strike – only then to let Dennis Skinner to talk about anything BUT the strike. Then when Mark Pritchard MP dares to ask about the Union Unite, the Speaker comments “the question doesnt remotely relate to the question we are considering”.. errr And Skinner’s did??

A few minutes later (hence the inserted silence in the podcast) Mark Pritchard asks a Point of Order. Was Speaker Bercow somewhat robust in slapping down a Conservative (again). Would it now be fair to suggest that when the Speaker stresses that the House should be aware that the public are watching and should behave in a dignified manner (as he often does at PMQ’s) perhaps he should now include himself in that telling off?

To listen to the extracts click the play button above.

17 Responses to Bercow being even handed? You decide

  1. idonotbelieveit says:

    They have video of it here, scroll in about 18 minutes
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/democracylive/hi/house_of_c

  2. Thunderous Chimpgibb says:

    Mark Pritchard should stop whining. He was caught breaking the rules, and complaining that Dennis Skinner was treated differently doesn't change that.

    Cameron promised that under his leadership we would see an end to precisely this kind of behaviour. The public are sick of it, they think MPs find the misfortunes of their constituents funny, and it os causing irreparable damage to the reputation of Parliament. if Tory MPs don't get it, and want to blame the Speaker for not rewarding their reprehensible behaviour, then they show they are notbyet fit to govern.

  3. Athirat says:

    I think it was fair. Pritchard knew he was crossing a line. He was trying to be clever, and was caught out. He was trying to dodge around the Speaker's very clear prohibition of raising matters not related to the Strike, but failed.

    And then the Point of Order was an outrage.

    I was watching BBC Parliament about that time yesterday, and actually thought he was being very fair. Only 5 or ten minutes previous, in Treasury Questions, he had rebuked the minister for attacking Tory Policy during questions. So I think he does a good job in chairing these exchanges.

  4. Tom says:

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910

    Michael Howard and Andrew Mackay were allowed to ask questions about Unite – MH even asked if the Government ould stop taking money from them.

    Really this is a posionous issue – both sides are trying to make the other look shady and corrupt via their financial links. If anythign Bercow needs to slap down more MP's trying to bring this crap up – just makes them all look like children.

  5. athirat says:

    Editor, allowing Skinner his question was allowing latitude, which I think he was really obliged to do given he had allowed three previous questions (those of Mackay, Howard and Robathan) which were related to UNITE. And clearly as the video you link to shows, Speaker did in fact interupt Mr Skinner.

    So yes, I do think Speaker was being even-handed. You can't expect him to give a free-reign to Tories simply because there are a minority of back-bench MPs who simply loathe him.

    • editor says:

      1) The issue of Unite is of direct relevance to the BA strike – how is Ashcroft??

      2) I wasnt aware I had linked to a video?

      3) Straight after the Speaker suggested he wouldnt allow questions not on the topic of BA and the strike – he did just that with Skinners intervention.

  6. Athirat says:

    Sorry Editor, I got confused there about the video/lack of.

    I'm unsure whether you could really say the question was allowed. The Speaker didn't allow a response to Skinner's question, and got the house to move on. Rightly so given he had just made clear that he did not consider this urgent question (a plus point of Bercow's Speakership has been that we have more of those!) an excuse to debate Party Funding

    Given there were three Conservative voices which made equally tangental points previously, it seems only fair that Bercow allowed Skinner to put his views on the record before making an attempt to move forward.

    Also, I do think there is an issue about the point of order made by Pritchard. It is all very well for him to play the victim, but he made an extremely serious allegation which he knew would provoke the chair. It was rather childish of him.

    Anyway, you did say that we should be the judge of the exchange. These are my honest views, I do think there is something of a vendetta against Bercow.

  7. Tom says:

    1) So now its fine to question UNITE and Labour links when its being made a election issue by the Tories. There is none, really its both sides trying to score points

    2) idonotbelieveit links in first comment

    3) Firstly the question by J Greening just before Skinner was the following "The reality, though, is that this is a political dispute, because Unite gives Labour money" but he allows that blatent dig.

    Secondly the Speaker interupts Skinner and tells the minister not to respond which gets Skinners back up no end. This has been blown up by the usual suspects who don't like that they didn not get the Speaker they prefered.

  8. Tom says:

    I actually don't work for an MP although I have a few friends who are researchers/PA's. I just take a great interest

  9. Jim says:

    Bercow did get up and stop Sadiq Khan from replying to Skinner's question. It wasn't the most even handed exchange ever, but then neither was your reporting of it.

  10. editor says:

    Tom…my mistake…it appeared as though one of your comments was sent from the parliamentary estate.

    Jim….does this website look like the BBC….the clue is in the title.

  11. Total Corkage says:

    Good grief. Could you please refrain from commenting on Parliamentary proceedings until you can actually be bothered to read the exchanges in question.

    Skinner was told to shut up mid question. A series of Conservatives mentioned Labour links to Unite. But never let facts get in the way of a good story, eh?

    So having forced out Martin for being weak and ineffective, Bercow is now condemned for asserting the authority of the Chair. If they didn't want a strong speaker, they should have kept his predecessor.

  12. editor says:

    Perhaps you would like to quote what the Speaker said directly before Skinner spoke and then exactly what he was allowed (prior to any inervention from the Speaker) to get on the record. If you can't having watched the exchange and read the exchange I know I can.

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