Separated at birth or previous incarnation? The wooden puppet at the centre of this image went under the name of Archie Andrews during the 1950s. He looks uncannily like a younger incarnation of Nigel Farage, Leader of the UK Independence Party
Wonder how Bercow will defend presiding over raising MPs' monthly chit-free expenses from £250 to £400 p/m once he got voted in? And how about the fact that helping him do that on the Committee was the entirely beloved Tory superstar Alan Duncan, he of the garden and now living on slightly larger rations than he was before the two of them, Martin-defender Sir Stuart Bell and H.Harman joined him in voting in this change once he became Speaker and just before Parliament went into recess?
David Cameron's failure to go for a total sweep of troughers will come back to haunt him on this. He has now to choose between either standing a Tory to help Bercow and keep UKIP out or standing down and helping UKIP win.
Labour's also hoist with its own petard in having ensured that nominally Tory but actually Labour-leaning John Bercow got voted in to the Speaker's chair over Tory opposition
You can see the combination of utter dismay and huffing and puffing at the Tory fan site Conservativehome (admirably designed and managed by the very savvy Tim Mongtomerie). Almost all the commentary from the punters (as does Cameron) seriously underestimates the way the public feels and will go on feeling as long as the main political parties try to draw a line under the expenses scandal.
All Farage has to do is just keep publicising the huge hike from £250-£400 per month free of chits to win the fight. He's unanswerable on that one and I would love to see Bercow keep having to try and defend it, especially as he'll have to either defend himself as the apolitical rep of the whole Parliament (main evidence the monthly expenses hike), or he'll have to present himself as Mr Nice Guy opposed to nasty old political meddler.
He comes over slightly better than Alan Duncan in the Mr Nice Guy role but not that much--another man deeply in love with himself and who has the greatest difficulty in projecting humility other than in relation to his height. Expect lots of use of his excellent work for disabled children, based on his having a disabled child and pictures of him with lovable kids in his Speaker role (they're already up on his website). The BBC and The Guardian will go into total-worship overdrive to support him and present Farage as the Devil Incarnate. Will that be enough to overcome the "Hiked expenses free rides up from £250 to £400." Which way would you vote?
And, by the way, who will be bankrolling and paying for Mr Bercow's election expenses and publicity? That's a nice one.
Farage has also brilliantly put himself in a position where he will get endless publicity for himself and his party beyond anything his backers could dream of bankrolling. It will be one of the highest profile contests throughout the election, and UKIP will be able to take on the mantle of being on the side of the taxpayers and British fair-mindedness in the face of all the vested interests. It should do quite a bit to boost the UKIP vote in other constituencies, and most particularly those with a trougher or otherwise Inglorious Basterd MP in the safest of safe Tory seats.
Cameron can still outflank Farage by leaving Bercow to his fate and announcing a much more radical approach to his own troughers and troughers in general:
- primaries for all candidates before local constituencies are allowed to select
- nominate public hero no-expenses Tory MP Philip Hollobone onto the Expenses Committees
- promises to bring in a "vote the rascal out" system which can lead to recall and fresh election at national and local level
- promise to rescind the free-monthly trough hand out and put it back to £250 with chits required.
- Introduction of 100% democracy-- all voters have to vote but have the freedom to write in candidates AND vote for "none of the above"
- Combine that plus "vote the rascal out" and the voters will feel at last that they can do something about parties and troughers who depend for their power base on otherwise impregnable seats.
- Plus it will give much more legitimacy for whoever gets elected.
- And it will send the most powerful of messages to those MPs who feel they're both safe for life and entitled. You know, like Alan Duncan and John Bercow.
Nothing less is going to impress the voters.
Unfortunately, there's not even the remotest chance in hell that the Labour Party will sign up to a programme like that.
And, given what I've said about my views of the nature of Farage's brain composition, I wonder which behind the scenes UKIP-supporting brilliant kid actually thought this one up?
But again, credit where credit is due. Farage deserves huge credit anyway (as I gnash my teeth) for seeing the political genius of it, picking it up and running with it.