Our newly appointed Commons Speaker, faced with the task of reforming parliament, has decided to start with the uniform.
Traditionalists awaiting his inaugural procession into parliament squirmed as Mr Bercow appeared from the hallway wearing – gasp! – a shirt and tie, and a newly shortened gown.
Gone is the traditional train we all know and love, as well as the waistcoat, cuffs and stock and wing collar, at a total saving to the government of a credit-crunch-busting £700.
We’re certainly onto a bargain with this Speaker – by my calculations that’s enough to clean about a third of MP Sir Douglas Hogg’s moat. However, this fashion move won’t come as good news for those MPs mindful of unemployment statistics. I wouldn’t be surprised if the rather sheepish looking trainbearer (now, thanks to Bercow, without a train to bear) soon becomes the next Brit to join the dole queue.
“In terms of Commons chit-chat, this is pretty groundbreaking stuff…”
Along with his fashion reforms, which will, no doubt, fill the pages of Glamour magazine for the next few weeks, Bercow has also changed the feel of debate in the Commons. From Michael Martin all we could expect was “order, order” or the occasional “let the Prime Minister speak”. To be honest I don’t think people were really fussed about Martin’s involvement in the expenses episode, I think they just wanted a bit more banter.
Bercow has certainly delivered on that front… well… at least as far as Commons Speakers go. He seems to nuance every call for order that he gives just in case we lose interest. We had “you must calm yourself, it’s not good for your health!” at one point and “Order! I know it’s the third time but perhaps it’ll be third time lucky!” at another.
In terms of Commons chit-chat, this is groundbreaking stuff. Bercow is on fire. He hasn’t done badly for himself this week in general to be honest. Several MPs started off their questions to the House with statements of praise for the Speaker, sometimes even boardering on the flirtatious. “You know you’re getting old when the speaker starts to look young” is a personal favourite.
To my surprise, our very own Mr O’Brien has opted not to cover Bercow’s extremely important fashion reforms in Muse this edition. I can’t think why.