Thursday, July 02, 2009

Did Mr Speaker Leak His Own Statement to the BBC?

I happen to agree with John Bercow's proposal for Deputy Speakers to be elected. It is just as important that they command the support of the House as the Speaker himself. But I did think it was a little odd, to say the least, that the contents of the Speaker's statement appeared on the BBC website before he had stood up to make it. Simon Burns MP seems to agree. This was his point of order just after 1pm.
Mr. Simon Burns (West Chelmsford) (Con): On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I seek your advice and help. Since he became Speaker, Mr. Speaker has on a number of occasions deprecated to the House the habit of giving information on policy to the media before it is announced in the House. That is right.

I am sure that Mr. Speaker is as concerned as I am about the fact that his statement today was a significant story on the BBC news website half an hour before he made it. That suggests that it was leaked to the BBC. I was wondering whether Mr. Speaker would like to carry out an inquiry to try to find out how the statement was leaked and given to the corporation prior to its being made in the House.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: The hon. Gentleman could not possibly expect me to comment. Mr. Speaker will take note of what the hon. Gentleman has put on the record, but I could not possibly begin to opine about what may have occurred. I should just add that the fact that Mr. Speaker was going to make a statement was certainly in the public arena, in the sense that it was displayed on the annunciators in the House. I know no more than that.

Mr. Burns: Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I assure you that although the fact that Mr. Speaker was to make a statement was on the monitors, in no shape or form was it clear what the statement would be about. The other point is that if the Government have to bring statements here first rather than leaking them, no one—whether it is the Government or any other body with advance notice—should leak Mr. Speaker’s statements to the media.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: I cannot speculate about that. I say again to the hon. Gentleman that he has put his concerns on the record. If something injudicious or accidental has occurred, there will no doubt be opportunity for further comment. The issue is hardly more urgent than that.

No doubt government ministers will be thinking about sauce, geese and ganders. Or perhaps it was all a wheeze by Mr Bercow to get one over on ITN's Tom Bradby...

36 comments:

Anonymous said...

A good bit of student politics for which the Berc is so famous.

Anonymous said...

But surely he must have got the leak approved by Mandy or Mr 0% growth before the release.

Witterings From Witney said...

Nice spot Iain - have linked

Paul Halsall said...

Are you going to talk about Osborne?

Anonymous said...

Why talk about Osborne when everyone else is?

Strange coincidence. He has the audacity to suggest that the Labour Party isn't being honest and, straightaway, all the media focus is on his expenses.

I know that he might have done wrong. I'm not excusing that, if he has. Far from it. The media certainly should report it as that is its duty. Yet I don't think it's bigger news than the government's U-turn over Royal Mail. Nonetheless, the BBC are leading with the Osborne story. This, mere days after a blog by Nick Robinson casting aspersions on him because he is wealthy, young and male.

Mandelson has fingers in every pie. I wonder if the BBC is one of them.

jon dee said...

Of course he did and most likely with government approval. Does not bode well for the future despite his fine words.

Being little may make it harder to keep his ego under control.

Anonymous said...

Surprised Berc didn't go for the tights.Jules would have loved it.

Anonymous said...

Anon.6.27 Is the Pope a Catholic?

The Huntsman said...

"Commons Speaker John Bercow has said he wants MPs to vote in elections to choose his deputy speakers.

In a statement to MPs he said he wanted two deputy speakers from the government side and one from the opposition side. "

Under such a system the executive would inevitably whip its members and use its majority to elect Toadies from its own side so that you could end up with a proto-Labour Speaker, two Labour deputies and a Lib Dem deputy, thus freezing out Tories from any sort of role in the speakership.


"I happen to agree with John Bercow's proposal for Deputy Speakers to be elected."


Given the way in which Labour has acted ion a wholly partisan and mean-spirited fashion over the loathsome Bercow's election, why do you think they will desist from further outrages?

Not a good idea, I am afraid. You can sometimes have a tad too much democracy.

Anonymous said...

You could start by getting Mollie Sugden's name right in your "Tweets".

Fausty said...

It'll be interesting to see how Bercow handles his lapse.

It's interesting that 61% of politicos, commentators and chatterers believe that we shouldn't begrudge Michael Martin his peerage, while 70% of 'ordinary voters' believe he shouldn't've been ennobled.

Go figure.

If Mandelson is behind giving the Osborne expenses story legs, hadn't he better be careful that the tables don't turn on him? As I recall, his expenses record is very murky and there's probably much more to be uncovered.

Thomas Rossetti said...

This is completely off-topic (and may earn me a yellow card from Iain Dale) but I feel I really must draw attention to this brilliant post in response to Michael White's awful piece on the dreadfulness of bloggers.

Initially quoting Sir Michael, Soddball writes:

What I do that really annoys Staines, Peter Oborne and other rightwing attack dogs is defend the political class as a whole from unwarranted assaults that are corrosive of democratic discourse and public trust.

But Mr White, you might see the assaults as unwarranted but I disagree. This 'political class' to which you refer is half the problem. For New Labour, it's public school, oxbridge with a politics degree, head of Labour at the university, join Labour as a junior staffer, become PPC for a safe seat, head in to commons. For the Conservatives it's much the same. It is a failing system. It fails to connect, despite the constituency system, a MP with their constituents.

They are psychologically and financially isolated from the world in which the rest of country lives. Who amongst us can make the sorts of claims on expenses that MPs do? I run a business. I can claim for IT equipment, postage, petrol, a few other odds and sods, and that's it. Mrs Soddball works for BigBank in the city, and they can claim a maximum of £10 without a receipt. For MPs, it's £250.

The palace of Westminster itself fails to connect an MP with the rest of the country. The staffers, the whips, everything about that place strips the normality out of MPs.

The public do not trust MPs because MPs are failing them. The rage against the system is not a cause of the loss of trust but a symptom of it. It is a direct consequence of the elitism, the remoteness, and the arrogance of westminster that has created the political blogging phenomenon.

The journalists lobby is complicit in this. For twelve years, you and the others have sat on your hands while corruption was made endemic. You overlooked scandal after scandal. You allowed Blair and Brown's spin doctors to frighten your editors, to threaten to 'withhold information' from you. They made the media dance like puppets.

Well, no more. Call it blogging, call it citizen journalism, call it narcissism, nihilism, call it what you like. It is going to tear up the cosy compact between government and big media. If it frightens MPs and the big media groups, then all the better.

The Editor said...

If you want to avoid Osborne there's always Brown on 'honesty' from CH4 News tonight: Relaunch No 23 – Brown on his honesty, or lack thereof.

Though i'm not sure there's much room for debate.

Anonymous said...

Berkow is beggining to resemble one of those egotistical football referees who think the crowd have paid to see him.
I think I hate him......very much.

Paul Halsall said...

@Anon

How on earth can "hate" come into this? Sheer madness.

wolfie said...

Paul Halsall

Was it you that complained to the standards commissioner?

" A labour party activist, wrote a complaint, but assured us it wasn't motivated by politics but by disgust at his behaviour" So were was the letter about A. Darling, Baroness Uddin, Jack Straw et al ?

Course it wasn't politics, Pope is jewish and Bin Laden's a mormon.


Don't you party drones get it? we the non partisan ( all 98% of the population) are sick and tired of your yah boo politics

Whilst none of you could run a piss up in a brewery or even open a whelk stall

Osbourne cheated...shock horror that only makes 75% of the whole current house of commons. If you really cared you'd get your boss to call an election and let us the people decide.

Anonymous said...

Paul Halsall

Quite easily, he's an 'orrible greasy imbicile with a constant smug smirk on his face.

Anonymous said...

I think that a problem the government faces is that, as soon as it says something, many instinctively believe it to be false, and often end up believing the polar opposite. It's irrational, I know, but I've been driven to it due to years of spin.

Hence, in this case, although I despise fiddling expenses, I'm inclined to give Osborne the benefit of the doubt, as I feel that he's being victimised by an organisation resembling the propaganda arm of the government.

What Labour and its various trolls fail to grasp is that it's not just dyed in the wool Tories who neither trust nor like the government. If the Tories are to gain enough seats to win the election, the swing will come mainly because of the failings of the incumbents rather than the merits of the prospective government. That is an indictment of British politics at present.

On topic, re. Bercow, I would just say simply that he shouldn't have made a song and dance about cracking down on premature policy reports. At the most basic level, I think it's poor form in any walk of life, particularly politics, to say something and do something entirely different. That goes for the government too.

Anonymous said...

I think it more likely Cameroons have instigated the story on Osborne, he is not well liked.

DespairingLiberal said...

"It is just as important that they command the support of the House as the Speaker himself" - isn't that exactly what John Bercow got? Yet you clearly have not accepted that vote as it didn't go the way you wanted it.

It's like a sort of Tory Iran here sans the beards.

Anonymous said...

Same old same old.

Auntie Flo' said...

Arianna Huffington of Huffington Post is in London, Iain, shouldn't she be meeting David Cameron? She's met Brown.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/arianna-huffington/london-diary-gordon-brown_b_224549.html#postComment

Constantly Furious said...

Off topic, but ..

Are the honourable members of this blog aware that Labour are pumping millions into Northern Rock just to fatten it up to sell?

Taking on hundreds of temporary staff and 'consultants' to make it look like a 'real' company just long enough for Brown to flog it off before the election.

With, of course, our money...

Dave said...

I've noticed that he seems to be making an awful lot of statements. My biggest concern was that he would politicise the post to persue his own agenda -seems I was right.

Shouldn't the Leader of the House and Shadwo Leader of the House be responsible for making these types of proposals?

Anonymous said...

Iain - presumably you will be commenting on Ben Bradshaw's accusation that the Tory parliamentary party is "homophobic" and Chris Bryant's comments that it would be damaging to gays for them to vote Tory?

Lord Snooty said...

This is utterly bizarre, Iain. Why are you pursuing this tedious anti-Bercow line? What about a post on Osborne? Or on Bradshaw's homophobic slurs? Your blog is becoming a joke.

Owen is a scouser said...

A bit shallow, even by your standards. Have you not noticed there are some pretty big stories at the moment? Go and have a look at what Guido's leading on. I'm starting to get the impression you're getting a bit bored with blogging.

Lady Finchley's dildo said...

I stink of fish

Anonymous said...

The Osborne story seems trivial. The details of his mortgage arrangements have been known for months. All that has happened now is that the Standards Commissioner has received a complaint and is investigating.

So what?

Anonymous said...

No Osborne link??????????????????on his EXTRA five grand.hmmmm

Penfold said...

Bercow is an odious, self serving, egotistical prat.
A typical product of an Eastern European emigre family......
What more do you expect of him, standards? acceptable behaviour? playing the Englishman? oh perleeeeese.

As for Georgy Porgy, a typical example of the left trying to stir up the muddy waters to deflect the spray hitting them. Standard operating procedure.

Anonymous said...

Since Campbell's return with Mandleson in the run up to a general election, 'spinmaster' was reported as working for the BBC.

The suggestion of a 'Deputy Speaker' - paid for by taxpayers in a deepening recession, amid historic levels of debt is utterly ludicrous.

If Bercow cannot function alone in his role, he should quit pdq !

Thatsnews said...

Brcow = Don't do as I do, do as I say...

Anonymous said...

Thomas Rossetti,

Those with more than half a brain cell know that the issue of expenses starts and ends with 'improper' method of operation in the Fees Office.

Thereafter, 'leaks' were made selectively to damage Labour dissidents and members of oppositon parties - hard on the heels of Labour's disastrous local election results.

Nulabor governs on the basis of media spin and sleaze - 'dirt dishing gutter level politics'.

Anonymous said...

Who says it was the Speaker who leaked it - perhaps it was our whips office? Smug Simon Burns perhaps?

tsubaki said...

Did anyone else just see Bercow's response to this point of order?