'Berserker' right-wing Tory MPs tried to sabotage BBC documentary

Tory MP Bill Wiggin is seen demanding that the Speaker order one of the cameramen to move

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A small band of right-wing Conservative MPs, known to their colleagues as the “berserkers”, have been accused of plotting to sabotage a television documentary.

The veteran broadcaster Michael Cockerell was granted unprecedented access, including placing camera operators on the floor of the House of Commons, to make the four-part series for BBC 2 on how Parliament works.

While David Cameron, Ed Miliband, the Speaker, John Bercow, and the Clerk of the Commons, Sir Robert Rogers, all willingly co-operated with the programme makers, a few MPs vehemently objected to their presence.

In the first of the four programmes, which will air next Tuesday, the Tory MP Bill Wiggin is seen demanding that the Speaker order one of the cameramen to move. Mr Wiggin has denied that he objected to the camera crew being in the building, but said he wanted the camera operator moved to a safer position after his camera had hit Mr Wiggin on the head.

 

Talking to journalists after a private showing of the documentary in Whitehall yesterday, Mr Cockerell revealed that there were other Tory MPs – not including Mr Wiggin – who had more sinister ideas. Without naming names, Mr Cockerell alleged that the “berserkers” planned to arrange an “accident” which would involve someone falling backwards against a cameraman, knocking him over.

“There was a plan by backbenchers to knock our cameraman over and proceedings would be suspended and we would be blamed for it,” he said. It was thwarted. Security understood what was apparently planned and they averted it. These people know a lot about what’s going on.

“In Parliament every day there are cunning plans by various groups. It’s a place that is made for plotting and conspiracy.”

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It took Mr Cockerell six years to get permission to take cameras into Parliament, and a year to film the four one-hour programmes.

The first episode includes footage showing how Tory MPs are provided with planted questions that David Cameron wants to be asked at Prime Minister’s Questions. It shows two MPs carrying out their instructions, which include using variations of the set phrase “our long-term economic plan is working”.

Mr Cameron is filmed defending the practice. He says: “Politics is about the team putting across a team message.”

The programme makers used a drone-mounted camera  to take sweeping aerial shots of Parliament’s roof.

The first episode follows the progress of two newly elected women MPs, Labour’s Sarah Champion and the Tory Charlotte Leslie, as they learn Parliament’s arcane rules and practices. After a rowdy Prime Minister’s Questions, Ms Champion exclaims: “The behaviour in there is just disgusting, really embarrassing, juvenile!” She adds that the offenders are “men in their fifties”.

Ms Leslie explains that she went into politics because  “I have always been angry. I feel like smashing brick walls down.”

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