Nicholas Lezard: Forgive Bercow his past indiscretions

Nobody was going to confuse him with Disraeli. So why try to discredit him?

Share
Related Topics

To address every layer of farcical silliness which has been, and continues to be, thrown up by the John Bercow affair would take more space than either this paper has, or you and I have patience for. His stupid pieces about how to pick up women from decades ago, his wife's admission to smoking cannabis and the curiously strangled, yet of course wholly convincing, denials of any further drug use, the thrashing about that they and his spokesmen are doing to minimise the damage... we are in a realm that only Armando Ianucci, of political outsiders, can navigate; and, being a political outsider, only he could see the bigger picture.

Before he does so, let me contribute a suggestion. I knew a few people like Bercow around the time he wrote those pieces: Young Tories, a peculiarly repellent breed, who in the early 1980s would have posters of Maggie Thatcher on their walls; the more provocative wore "Hang Nelson Mandela" T-shirts and after a night drinking with fellow members of the Monday Club, would goose-step around our university towns for a laugh. Heady days.

The first and last political interview I ever undertook was with John Carlisle, the pro-apartheid MP for Luton North, who stopped the tape when I mentioned the Monday Club, with whom he had been associated. The Monday Club, for the benefit of younger readers, was a splinter Conservative group who it sometimes seemed were only a shade to the left of what is now the British National Party. The chief ideological difference, as far as one could tell from the outside, was a more widely geopolitcal frame of offensive reference (i.e. it sometimes seemed as though they wanted the wogs kicked out of everywhere, not just Britain).

The thing about Bercow is that he is not now as wholly repulsive as you might have imagined he would have turned out. His previous associations do not inspire confidence, or even the smallest imaginable fragment of respect. But the reason why he is loathed in the Tory party today is not because of his embarrassing past on the far-right fringe; it's because he has moved too far to the left. He even has a wife who left the Tories and joined Labour – in 1997, which sounds opportunistic whether she joined before or after the election. (She joined shortly before.)

And now Metro, a paper distributed free to London commuters, has unearthed, or been handed, a strikingly daft and unfunny article it claims he wrote in the 1980s, the details of which don't bear repeating. Bercow denies authoring it. All anyone needs to know is that if he really wrote it, it would prove that he was a prize tit, although there is nothing, shall we say, wildly out of character about it. Well, we have all done things in our hot youth of which we might now be ashamed. But someone seems to have gone to a certain amount of trouble to drag this rather obscure episode to light.

No one was ever going to confuse Bercow with Benjamin Disraeli but it does seem as though there is a scheme to discredit him as much as possible. Now who on earth could possibly want to do that?

n.lezard@independent.co.uk

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Technical Author / Multimedia Writer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This recognized leader in providing software s...

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

I don't blame parents who move to get their child into a good school

Chris Blackhurst
William Hague, addresses delegates at the Conservative party conference for the last time in his political career in Birmingham  

It’s only natural for politicians like William Hague to end up as journalists

Simon Kelner
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent