Simon Carr:

The Sketch: Little Man in the Big Chair prepares to repel all boarders

Share
Related Topics

The look on the faces of the Tories hadn't been seen since the Great Stink of 1858. There was an almost visible heat ripple of loathing coming off the top of their Conservative heads.

Sir Peter Tapsell leant back from the shoulders to regard a vile new microbe. David Davis wore an expression of incredulous intensity. James Gray next to him was generating an emotion as yet unknown to either medical science or the judicial system.

What a blow it has been. John Bercow, the new Speaker. What a big fat blowfly he is in their jar of Neutrogena.

He is there, though, to restore the reputation of the House of Commons. "It's a tall order," he'd told us on election day, "and I'm only a little chap. But I think I can rise to the occasion." The taller Tories certainly found their gorges rising to the occasion.

Charles Walker, Bercow's sole Tory nominator found himself sitting next to George Young, the second tallest Tory and Bercow's runner-up. Walker had chosen the single worst seat in the Palace of Westminster, what a strange young man he is. His whole personality seemed to be bent out of shape by the baronet's gravitational field. The poor fellow's face twisted and buckled as George gently turned one way or the other.

A few minutes earlier, Bercow had made his debut in the Speaker's procession into Parliament. His first appearance in public. We heard the policeman's long, melancholy call like a sea horn in the fog: "Speeeeakerrrr!"

He was among us, Little Chap. And he had modernised his dress. Symbolism is important in politics. Was he wearing Man City strip? Or sunglasses? I'm sorry to say he was in Top Shop day wear. Ordinary clothes with a baggy, academic gown.

Oh, for the days of that gorgeous dandy Speaker Martin – he who wore the lace at his throat like a highwayman at the old inn door. Those were the days, weren't they? Or weren't they, it's too recent to remember.

Back in the Commons, Little Chap was in the Big Chair. The Tories were longing for him to present all his defects in the most concise form.

The script they had written for him went: "In the first discharge of the duties of the chair, it is less than a nostrum but more than an axiom that it shall be incumbent on the senior members of the official opposition who wish to contribute to the proceedings to do so in a condition of trouserlessness. Sergeant at Arms! Bind him!"

But having beaten about the bush I have to bring you to the bad news. He was perfectly all right. He performed creditably, even ably.

Some humour, some charm, a deft manner in making the big Pole Kazinsky be quiet. The thing is, he has his heart's desire. He will now defend his position with everything he needs to use. He will deploy integrity, he will bring in some modesty, he will dial up a little loyalty. Acquiesence when necessary, defiance if it's needed, impartiality if that's what is required.

There may be a little work to do there. An early slip was detected – it surely won't happen again. He'd called Sir Peter Tapsell. A little context. Tapsell was the man whom Bercow had mocked in his election speech. He'd put on a stupid-old-toff voice to say, "You're not just too young, you're FAR TOO YOUNG! Speakers should be practically SENILE!" This attack on one of his own side very much pleased his Labour friends and appalled his Tory enemies.

So, he called Tapsell, Tapsell started booming away and a tight and tiny smile appeared on Steve McCabe's face. He's a Labour whip, you see, and was sitting by the Speaker's chair.

McCabe's eyes drifted leftwards and upwards. "Bwah wah wah," Sir Peter went. Bercow's mouth was twitching too while his eyes were drifting right and downwards. His eye met the government whip's and their mutual smile became a little conspiracy.

It is a great crime for a Speaker to canoodle with any sort of whip.

But that's the end of that. He's played a miserable hand so skillfully it's hard to see him misplaying his aces now.

simoncarr@sketch.sc

React Now

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

Recruitment Genius: Developer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you familiar with the sayin...

Recruitment Genius: Hospitality Assistant

£6 - £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care organisation take pride in del...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker

£6 - £7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care organisation take pride in del...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Assistant

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A Protein World advert displayed in an underground station in London which says  

Protein World’s advert 'not offensive'? Try telling that to the 70,000 people who signed the petition to ban it

Anna Cafolla
A Palestinian child screams in pain at the Kamal Adwan hospital in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip after she was hit by shrapnel during an Israeli military strike near her family house  

As a surgeon who worked in Gaza last year, hearing that 511 Palestinians died after their ambulances were obstructed doesn't surprise me

Ghassan Abu Sittah
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

Education: Football Beyond Borders

Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most