John Bercow in Ely and according to a Labour city councillor ‘all 500 in the audience fell in love with him on Valentine’s evening’

PUBLISHED: 23:11 15 February 2020 | UPDATED: 23:14 15 February 2020

John Bercow in Ely. He was guest of Topping & Co and 500 turned up at the cathedral to hear him interviewed by David Learner. Picture; JANE LEARNER

John Bercow in Ely. He was guest of Topping & Co and 500 turned up at the cathedral to hear him interviewed by David Learner. Picture; JANE LEARNER

Archant

Labour’s REBECCCA DENNESS, a member of Ely City Council, was among a crowded gathering at Ely Cathedral on Friday to hear former Speaker John Bercow. He was there to promote his book ‘Unspeakable’ for an event organised by Topping & Co.

Cllr Denness provided us with her thoughts on the event: feel free to email the editor, john.elworthy@archant.co.uk if you agree or disagree with her assessment,

All 500 in the audience fell in love with him on Valentine's evening.

The guy sitting next to me told me it was the best Valentine's evening he'd had. Bercow's father, Bercow-junior told us, said the Speaker, generally speaking was generally speaking, but how he speaks!

Wonderfully correct language, sometimes old-fashioned but his ideas are bang up to date. What a talent. Never have I understood what the phrase 'you could've heard a pin drop' meant until last night when we were all holding our breath in his pauses. Speaker and accomplished actor.

Bercow's words about Boris Johnson were heard in silence. Johnson's majority gave him the right to do this that and the other was his legitimate view.

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But, when Bercow disapproved, he invoked Thatcher who would never have picked only friendly journalists on whatever occasion. Fiddling with the role of judges caused him concern. Javid did what he had to and that was the decent thing. Huge applause for that.

Bercow would say Johnson was entitled to the Cabinet of his choosing. But what does his choice tell us? Johnson wanted to get Brexit over the line and that required loyalty.

Now is a time for creativity in deal-making and addressing a list of domestic priorities, though. Good decision-making comes from challenge and debate. The Cabinet he's chosen will not challenge, so where will the ideas come from? An 80-seat majority gives security, but would a secure PM keep Patel and dispense with Smith?

Central control from No 10 from where Johnson will only emerge to don a high-viz jacket to show off an expensive project and crack a joke or two, eyes on the camera.

Or else go to the House for half an hour on a Wednesday lunchtime for the only slither of scrutiny he exposes himself to and only that because he has to. Is this thin-skinned and insecure Johnson the PM we expected?

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