By Ray Fleming

JOHN Bercow is proving to be a most unusual Speaker of the House of Commons.
Some of his comments on Sunday's The Andrew Marr Show have infuriated Members of Parliament who look to him for support, or at least understanding.
He hardly needed to say that his job was not “to act as a shop steward for backbenchers” but the comment did remind some viewers that his predecessor Michael Martin sometimes saw himself in that role.

Speaker Bercow has taken exactly the same line as the three party leaders over the implementation of Sir Christopher Kelly's recommendations on the reforms arising from the expenses and allowances scandal -- that is, that although some “rough justice” may be involved, the damage done to Parliament has been “seismic” and a “wholesale, fundamental and irrevocable” change is essential.

One of the most criticised of the Kelly reforms is the ban on family members working in an MP's office.

Even if he were still an ordinary Conservative MP Mr Bercow would probably not be troubled by this change. His wife Sally has just announced her intention of standing as the Labour candidate in the Conservative-held St James' ward on Westminster City Council in next year's local elections.

Clearly a Labour wife running a Conservative MPs private office would create some problems but now that Mr Bercow is required to be totally impartial, the difficulty does not even arise.


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