Farage Scalps Bercow. Now What?


Nigel Farage’s campaign to win the Parliamentary seat in Buckingham for UKIP must be going better than many thought. Political Betting’s Robert Smithson, for example, was taking bets against Farage last week, scoffing at Farage’s supporters, or those like me who thought Farage stood a good chance of being elected.

John Bercow, as it is turning out, now seems to be a worried man. And he is trying to find a way out of the contest. He is saying, in effect, that if UKIP breaks the convention of standing against the Speaker in elections in Buckingham, no Speaker’s seat would ever be safe again. He is suggesting a small Constituency be established for him to win, called St Stephens based on a tiny area around the Palace Of Westminster.

Some details of this story can be found in The Daily Mail HERE.

I doubt Bercow would be saying all this if he felt secure in his Buckingham seat.

It seems a little late in the day for such Constitutional shenanigans, I would have thought, but I suppose The Political Class would likely want to run and save their darling Bercow from humiliation at the hands of Farage if that is what he fears.

But to be honest, I would suggest that running away and hiding would be even more humiliating for the precious little darlings, would it not, than losing an electoral battle fair and square.

Bercow played a foolish game over the Lisbon Treaty referendum vote in The Commons earlier in the year, first of all publicly backing the policy, and then changing his mind when the vote actually happened, and voting against it. At that moment, of course, he would have had no idea he would be facing Britain’s primary eurosceptic champion in his own Constituency, and he imagined he could shit on British democracy with impunity.

Had he stayed loyal to the referendum and voted for it, he could have pleaded to his Constituents that he was a reliable eurosceptic, as he has done so often in the past. Even then many had suspected his euroscepticism was purely an act to keep him onside with other Conservatives and that now appears to be the case.

It now appears that either Bercow could, indeed, be slung out by his frustrated eurosceptic voters in Buckingham, or he will escape to the sanctity of yet to be created ‘St Stephens’. But as Conservative MPs didn’t approve Bercow’s appointment in the first place, as he was appointed by a majority of Labour MPs not Conservatives, it seems that few Conservative MPs are keen for him to continue as Speaker anyway. One might ask if it is really worth all the run-around, as a COnservative majority in the election could quickly terminate Bercow’s tenure as Speaker anyway. Bercow is in trouble, on all fronts.

If he runs for cover to St Stephens, that would in turn allow the major parties back into Buckingham, but Farage, who might at one time, have been presented as a carpet-bagger, could now be credited with sending Bercow packing, and be seen as a political winner, deserving of support.

And another thing, who would want to come in at this stage, and stand against Farage, after he has already effectively felled Bercow? I would not like to be the Conservative PPC selected this late on to see off Farage. Buckingham Conservatives might decide that Farage should be rewarded with the seat regardless.

Surely now is the moment for Lord Pearson to attempt that famous deal with David Cameron. He should offer to withdraw UKIP from 100 marginal constituencies across Britain, on condition that no Conservative would be put up against Farage in Buckingham? Now how about that idea, Dave and Malcolm? The COnservatives get an extra fifty seats and UKIP get their first. That must surely be good business for all parties.

Might I suggest a second more purposeful approach be made to Lord Strathclyde by Lord Pearson, once the Bercows have taken flight from Buckingham.

The Daily Mail report -\Speaker John Bercow wants to switch to a new seat with only MPs as his ‘constituents’ so he can avoid a humiliating defeat by former UKIP leader Nigel Farage at the nextGeneral Election.
It would mean abandoning his Buckingham seat for the newly created one called St Stephen’s – the name of the old House of Commons chapel – where, effectively, it would be impossible to challenge him.
He put forward the idea amid speculation that he may struggle to defeat Mr Farage, who stepped down as UKIP leader to take on Mr Bercow in defiance of the custom where the Commons Speaker is not challenged by the main parties.
If the tradition ended, said Mr Bercow, it could be hard for any Speaker to survive for more than one parliamentary term.
Mr Bercow suggested giving the Speaker ‘a separate constituency, known as St Stephen’s, representing a small area around Westminster’.
The Speaker’s original constituency would hold a normal election and choose a new MP, he explained.
‘The Commons can always decide to do that if it wants,’ he told Total Politics magazine. If MPs supported such an idea, he would not oppose it. Ordinary members of the public would not be allowed to be ‘constituents’ of the Speaker’s St Stephen’s seat.
Any Election challenge would have to be made on an individual – not a party – basis, making it harder to unseat the Speaker.
Mr Bercow said: ‘It is both possible and necessary for the Speaker to continue to be a highly active constituency MP.
I suspect I won’t face major party competition – but I will face opponents.’

UPDATE – From The Guardian Politics Blog today based on Bercow’s interview with Iain Dale’s Total Politics –

Bercow also floated the idea, which I had not heard before, of having the Speaker represent a new, tailor-made constituency called St Stephen’s. He did not back the proposal, but he suggested that it would one solution to the possibility of the Speaker losing his seat at a general election.

Bercow is seeing St Stephens as a possible avenue as a way back in if he is defeated in Buckingham, it appears. He is not planning on running away just yet. Maybe a turf trade will not be quite as easy as it initially appeared from the Daily Mail article. Oh well. Worth the thought as events keep changing.

The Tap Blog is a collective of like-minded researchers and writers who’ve joined forces to distribute information and voice opinions avoided by the world’s media.
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8 Responses to “Farage Scalps Bercow. Now What?”

  1. Harry says:

    There will be no Conservative candidate in Buckingham, so no need to again offer the deal that was rejected by Cameron.

  2. tapestry says:

    I haven’t made it clear, Harry.

    If Bercow quits Buckingham for this notional new Constituency, to be called St Stephens, presumably all the parties can re-enter the Buckingham arena, and the Constituency is open to all the parties once more.

    I was imagining that Cameron and Pearson could make a deal that the Conservatives would not re-enter Buckingham on condition that UKIP quits 100 marginal seats, where that would enhance the Conservative’s chances of winning those seats.

    Farage would then win Buckingham for sure, or for as certain as could be predicted. While were the Conservatives to come back in with someone other than Bercow, he might well lose it.

    Cameron might win 50 extra seats under such a deal.

    Both sides would be happy at that I would think.

  3. tapestry says:

    What’s Nigel’s number? I should give him a call.

  4. Andy JS says:

    Bercow complaining about someone standing against him? Labour and Alliance stood against Weatherill in Croydon NE in 1987.

  5. Anonymous says:

    On another note does the speaker have to be an “elected MP” at all? Just as we shoudl be able to vote directly for a PM perhaps we should be able to vote for a speaker.

  6. Harry says:

    Thanks Tap. Now I understand.

    I suspect a deal of that nature is not beyond possibility. However i suspect deal might be for more than a single seat (say 5 where UKIP is given a free run, in return for standing down in all winnable Tory seats?)

    Any such deal would, however, cause tensions in the party membership among certain groups.

    I do have Nigel’s mobile but unfortunately I’m not inclined to giving it out 😉

  7. tapestry says:

    If they talk over tea in The Lords, I am sure that the possibilities would suggest themselves Harry!

    What’s the currency you’re describing here? 20 UKIP withdrawals in marginals buys 1 withdrawal from a safe Conservative seat by the sound.

    I would think that’s a good start point to negotiate from. But it might be nearer 50 to 1 to begin with.

    Plenty of trouble to be had in both parties I would think. But why not talk about such a trade? Talk costs nothing, and what else can Lords Pearson and Strathclyde talk about, other than the Grouse being slow to fly this year with it being so much colder than usual.

    Those arrogant EU stooges in the Lords need a rocket up their arses.

  8. tapestry says:

    I heard talk that other parties have attempted such a deal in other parts, and the reply from up top was ‘no chance’.

    My advice would be to keep doors open. Situations can change, even if the current market is no buyers.

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