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

Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF, BGP, Multicast, WAN)

£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF,...

Commercial Property Solicitor - Bristol

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: A VERY HIGH QUALITY FIRM A high qual...

DevOps Engineer (Systems Administration, Linux, Shell, Bash)

£50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: DevOps Engineer (Systems Administration, L...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The power of anonymity lies in the freedom it grants

Boyd Tonkin
Rebel fighters walk in front of damaged buildings in Karam al-Jabal neighbourhood of Aleppo on August 26, 2014.  

The Isis threat must be confronted with clarity and determination

Ed Miliband
Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone