Simon Carr: Celebrations then, but the real work starts now

Truth to tell, it is a triumph for him, the complete fruition of a long-term plan

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One funny thing – after the penultimate round of voting I developed a little view of what might happen and went round saying, “It’s Bercow. By 20 votes.” There was no evidence to support this. Others were saying with equal assurance it was mathematically impossible for Bercow to win. Tory optimists were talking up the “momentum” George Young was developing. No one knew anything.

But passing Nick Robinson talking to Michael Gove I said it to them as well. “It's Bercow, by 20 votes.”

An hour later, a gallery colleague came into the room and said confidentially: “It's Bercow by 20 votes.

Michael Gove says so.” We don't laugh enough these days, but that helped the deficit.

The Tories were looking pretty sick thinking about the 20 votes they’d all come to believe in suddenly.

Hell, it was Bercow - but by 50! Fifty!

The applause from Labour was immediate, loud, celebratory, and not a little malevolent. Nearly all of Beckett’s votes had gone to Bercow. The payroll vote had been deployed from one to the other – I dare say on Gordon’s direct instructions.

Harriet beamed – a little vindictively I thought – in the direction of the Gallery. Mary Creagh became quite dewy. The Prime Minister smiled (and that’s a sad event these days). Ed Balls nodded approvingly at another little dose of poison in the wells.

But for public consumption it was great gay abandon. They had done it!

He had done it! The Clean Break Candidate was in place. The Tories were trying to smile bravely – well, some were – and a small coterie of them were actually applauding. He is, after all, not entirely without friends in the party, but supporters are few and enemies are everywhere. That’s what makes it so delicious for Labour.

When the Speaker-elect said, “My first thoughts were of my –”

“Your pay!” heckled a Tory woman MP.

Oh! Low blow! But it’s true the pay and conditions do improve markedly for the Bercows. They'll be millionaires.

Well, good luck to them.

The more Labour applauded the more the Tories ground their teeth (they hate applause in the Commons).

The louder the applause – and the Lib Dems were doing it too – the stronger was the case for Bercow “representing the whole House”.

Bercow’s acceptance speech was (technical term) all right. It was the greatest moment in his professional career, he said. That would be true for anyone.

He stood there in the throne a little diminutively and savoured his triumph.

Truth to tell it is a triumph for him, the complete fruition of a long-term plan. Seven or eight years ago he first ventilated his ambition. And through two elections and many career mutations he has sure-footedly and deliberately gone step by step to his throne.

His behaviour seemed so egregiously false to some of us, but perfectly reasonable to others. But that’s another important thing in politics – given time you can believe anything you set your mind to believe.

Having said that, what was Gordon thinking when he ribbed him saying, “you said you were now going to put aside all your political views. Some of us thought you’d done that a long time ago.”

Bercow laughed. Labour laughed. I laughed. “Should he have said that?” I asked the Mirror. The Mirror laughed. Gordon, incidentally is looking worse.

Yesterday he was tripe-white, with sunken eyes and a thousand mile stare. His joke was funny because it was true. The man must be on the wrong edge of exhaustion. Cameron made a graceful, amusing speech. Etona floreat.

Bercow's campaign isn’t yet over.

He has to demonstrate his “complete impartiality”, if he is to avoid being ejected by the incoming Tories next year. There will also be the traditional tests to his authority in the House.

But very many Tories will like to remember the words of Bercow’s old hero, Enoch, when he warned of “the Tiber foaming with much blood”.

Equally though, Bercow will change, as people do when they achieve high office. And sometimes they change for the better (excuse the note of surprise in my voice).

That’s something to look forward to.

simoncarr@sketch.sc

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