A piece in today’s Times by Matt Chorley, Red Box Editor:
David Cameron’s relationship with John Bercow remains as bitter as ever, with the former prime minister privately backing Harriet Harman to become Commons Speaker.
Mr Bercow is under pressure after allegations of bullying made against him by a former parliamentary clerk.
Ms Harman has been tipped to replace him and admits in an interview that she would “consider it at the time” if he were forced out.
Mr Cameron regularly clashed with Mr Bercow while Conservative leader and then as prime minister. Almost two years after he left No 10 the bitterness remains and he is supporting efforts to replace the Speaker.
It is understood that Mr Cameron bumped into Ms Harman in parliament this week and told her he was “rooting for her” to become Speaker. “I know that’s just the endorsement you need,” Mr Cameron joked of the cross-party alliance. Allies of the former prime minister see removing the Speaker as “unfinished business” after a failed effort to oust him from the chair just before the 2015 election.
Ms Harman, who was acting Labour leader in 2010 and 2015, has been linked with a run for the speakership for several weeks but the issue became more pressing after allegations on BBC’s Newsnight, denied by Mr Bercow, that he bullied Kate Emms out of her job as his private secretary.
In an interview with House magazine, Ms Harman said: “People have been asking me whether I would be prepared to stand. But I think that that’s something that I would have to consider when there’s a vacancy.”
Although the pair often clashed, Mr Cameron praised Ms Harman, who was acting Labour leader, in their final prime minister’s questions in 2015: “Twice you have stepped into the breach as your party’s acting leader, never an easy job, but you have carried it out with total assurance.” He also once joked “she’s far posher than I am”.
His rivalry with Mr Bercow goes back further. In 2005 when Mr Cameron was running for the Tory leadership, Mr Bercow took a swipe at his background, declaring: “The combination of Eton, hunting, shooting and lunch at White’s is not helpful when you are trying to appeal to millions of ordinary people.”
In 2010 Mr Cameron mocked him, recalling a joke about the diminutive Mr Bercow being furious at an MP driving into his car and shouting: “I’m not Happy.” To which the MP replied: “Well, which one [J4MB: of Snow White’s seven dwarves] are you?”
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For some years the Anti-Feminism League, and latterly J4MB, presented awards to men in senior positions, who are feminists or enabled feminist initiatives – “Toady” awards. Today virtually all men in senior positions are Toadies, so there seems little point in presenting the awards.
I worked for the Conservative party as a business consultant (2006-8), during the party’s term in opposition under the leadership of David Cameron, appointed leader in 2005. I had the misfortune of encountering Cameron’s odious Head of Strategy, Steve Hilton, a man loathed by many people who had to deal with him. In May 2015 Hilton appeared with Harriet Harman on The Andrew Marr Show – here (video, 2:38) – and was so fawning towards the evil witch that he earned a Toady award.
Cameron was always a mangina, later a Toady. In the autumn of 2009 he announced his intention to introduce all-women shortlists. Along with many others I cancelled my party membership, never to return. The party has been an utter embarrassment to small ‘c’ conservatives since at least 2005, and I’m with Peter Hitchens in wishing to see it annihilated at the next general election. Five years with a Commie in No.10 should be enough to establish and build a serious small ‘c’ conservative party, which the country badly needs.
Cameron’s backing of Harriet Harman for the Speaker’s role is utterly in character for the most appalling British prime minister in living memory (even if you’re 100+).