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12 Things We Learnt From John Bercow’s Lecture at CCCU

The RT Hon John Bercow MP gave a public lecture on ‘The Making of a Modern Parliament’ at Augustine Hall.

John Bercow is a British MP and the Speaker of the House of Commons since June 2009. He has been continually re-elected to be the Speaker and currently the 157th holder of the role.

Here’s what we learnt from his lecture: 

John Bercow came from humble beginnings

He told a story of his Mum pointing out all the time and money he was spending into becoming an MP, and she was worried that he would be ‘destroyed’ if he didn’t get the role.

But John said that failure was never an option for him.

“The thought of never getting into Parliament never occurred to me… I thought that if I kept at it, I’ll get there in the end. I never thought of failing.”

He praised Rosie Duffield

“Rosie has made an impression. She made some superb speeches, spoke movingly, spoken about her journey and struggles during election… She was gracious and honest. She’s made a very good start. I like people irrespective of party or age group. I like people who have character.”

He would prefer a more diverse mix of MPs

“We need more people from working class backgrounds who knows what it’s like to exist in this world.”

However, he understands that not everyone can financially afford to be an MP candidate. Hence why most MPs are from white, middle-class backgrounds.

It’s down to the Speaker to seek the widest range of opinions in the House of Commons

The Speaker should give way to people who want to speak on a matter that most interests them.

“I’m looking to call on women who are better behaved!”

He aims for the Speaker to be a catalyst for reform

One of John Bercow’s goal is to reform the way Parliament works. As seen in the topic of his lecture, he aims to modernise it.

“We have got to will our own revival.”

He believes that if society or the media is concerned about an issue, then it should be discussed in Parliament

He bought up a recent event where Donald Trump re-tweeted content from the right-wing British group, ‘Britain First’. The issue was bought up in Parliament by Labour MP, Stephen Doughty, who asked if the Home Secretary had a response on the matter.

John Bercow gave Home Secretary, Amber Rudd an opportunity to speak to which she declined.

He understands that people need to hear what Parliament has to say on these issues.

John Bercow has taken the role of an ambassador for Parliament, too

He believes that it’s important for the Speaker to engage with people outside of Parliament and Westminster.

“The Speaker can practice outside of the Estate. To involve with matters outside of Parliamentary interests.”

He has taken on an outreach role, focusing mainly on education.

He holds the opinions of young people at a high regard

“I believe that if we want to be respected by young people then we should respect young people. They are the future.”

He would like an elected second chamber

John Bercow wants a democratically elected second chamber to delay, pause and revise the decisions made in the first chamber.

As much as he is an advocate of the idea, he believes that it will not happen anytime soon.

Audience had an opportunity to meet and chat with John Bercow after the lecture.

There are many ways to modernise Parliament

He would prefer if parliament voted electronically, for the reasons of efficiency.

He’s not a fan of the wigs – he said that he feels a certain ‘disconnection’ when wearing them.

He would like more female MPs

Parliament should represent society as a whole, but currently, only 33% of MPs are women. He believes that it should be more.

The speaker is expected to be impartial in the debates

He is completely independent from any political party.

I sit in parliament as a quasi independent. A non-partisan member. Not a player, but a referee.”

The event happened on 30 November 2017 at Augustine Hall, Canterbury Christ Church University.