Village People: In a bind over Bercow

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Indy Politics

The plot to remove the Speaker, John Bercow, still lurks in the undergrowth in the Westminster Village. His enemies are old colleagues on the Tory side who see him as a turncoat, and for whom the last straw was that famous photograph of Sally Bercow clothed only in a sheet.

The main obstacle the plotters face is that Bercow is popular with Labour MPs, who voted him into office. To get around that, they have resigned themselves to the idea that if he goes, his successor will have to be from the Labour side. A name in the frame is Paul Murphy, whose steady record as a former Northern Ireland Secretary suggests that he would have the authority to keep unruly MPs in order.

Rely on me to stand (down)

What a difference a year makes. This week will mark the anniversary of the first of the television debates that enlivened the general election and turned Nick Clegg into the golden boy of British politics. "I agree with Nick" was the catchphrase of the campaign. How sadly different from recent headlines, in response to the Deputy Prime Minister's plea that he is a human being.

Contempt for the poor man has gone global. "Aw. Poor Nick Clegg. Cue the violins for the British Deputy Prime Minister," were the opening words of the report yesterday in the Toronto newspaper The Globe and Mail.

Generous to a fault

Prince Andrew has had a reasonable week. He spent three days in Indonesia as the UK's trade representative (with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Thursday) without attracting any bad publicity. Indeed, he barely attracted any publicity at all, in part because he made a point of not speaking to the press. Now it has emerged that various captains of industry have signed a letter to The Sunday Times praising his contribution to British exports. Can it last?

Regrets, he has a few

"I don't necessarily think people have abused the system, but the system itself is absolutely antiquated and Byzantine," a local MP told the Scunthorpe Telegraph at the start of the expenses scandal two years ago.

"It's guaranteed to annoy the public and I think it can damage their view of Parliament," he said.

The source of these wise words was the former environment minister Elliot Morley, who faces a stiff jail sentence after pleading guilty this week to the biggest expenses fiddle so far, involving £30,428 in bogus claims.