A look behind the headlines - a bit of a cautionary tale?

13 February 2017

Quick, turn off the lights, pretend we're not in...

If you don't live under a rock, you'll have seen or heard the fuss that the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow MP has kicked up with his recent remarks about US President Trump's visit to the UK later this year.

John Bercow MP

Trump has apparently been invited by PM Theresa May (careful with that spelling btw, there's another Teresa May in a different line of business all together, and US officials got the two mixed up.) to visit the UK and Speaker of the House, John Bercow was quite quick off the mark to say that Trump would not be invited to adress MP and Lords as some other international leaders have done because it was "not an automatic right", but an "earned honour". 

President Trump

As you no doubt know, President Trump likes to shoot from the lip and some of the things he has said do not sit well with the Speaker of the Mother of Parliaments.

Speaker Bercow began by saying "...before the imposition of the migrant ban I would myself have been strongly opposed to an address by President Trump in Westminster Hall."  and he went to say "After the imposition of the migrant ban by President Trump, I am even more strongly opposed to an address by President Trump in Westminster Hall.

"...as far as this place [the Commons] is concerned, I feel very strongly that our opposition to racism and to sexism and our support for equality before the law and an independent judiciary are hugely important considerations in the House of Commons."

Quite clearly, Trump's langiague and attitude, both on the campaign trail and in office, fly in the face of some srtongly held principles and the Speaker was, he said, simply upholding that tradition by not inviting someone whose language and rhetoric are contrary to those values.
Upholding British Values, you might say, if you wanted to open another can of worms...


 Order, order

 As you'd imagine, someone dispalying principles as strongly as this has ruffled a few feathers in the House of Commons, especially among tories who see Trump as our post-brexit saviour.

They've gone so far as to call for a vote of no-confidence in our John.

According to your friendly local news organ, the Express and Star, Bercow faces "a challenge to remain as speaker"

Express & Star

The article goes on to explain in detail how tory MP James Duddrige, who tabled the motion, says he's been "amazed" by the number of people to privately voice to him their support for his motion.

This is interesting because, to date, only one person has signed the motion, and that's Mr Duddrige himself.

screen shot
 


 

Question Time

Right, this raises the question in our title - is this 'Fake News' or is it a valid 'Point of View'?

Yes, technically, the Speaker of the House of Commons faces a challenge and a bid to oust him, but that bid consists of one solitary, lonely, billy-no-mates backbencher tabling a motion, which, if it doesn't attract more support, won't get debated and so the 'challenge' will just disappear whence it came.

There are not legions of tories and ukips rushing to his support (there aren't legions of ukips to rush to his support, but we won't go there for obvious reasons...), so can it count as a challenge?

House of Commons

And that headline "...as Tory MPs raise fears" 
"MPs" is clearly plural, more than one, yet you can clearly see that Early Day Motion 943 has only 1 signature.

Where are the MPs?


And your point is...?

You have to ask yourself what the Express & Star is doing here.

Clearly it isn't accurate reporting of the facts - the paper is suggesting a number of MPs (plural) are seeking to force the resignation of the Speaker, but clearly there isn't alot of support for the motion so that's not the case.

Is the paper trying to generate political debate?
If that's the aim, you'd need accurate facts...

Is the paper just part of a right wing attack on the Speaker?
Could be, Bercow is a Marmite character, but on the whole he is seen as being good at his job

Is this another attempt by right wing media to censor news and opinion that's not to their liking, or to convey news that's sympathetic to their view?

We don't have any special rights or privileges to find the information above - anyone can do it (the Express & Star could have done it), all the infomation is freely availabe; that's a lovely thing  about our country, you can ask government, MPs, politicians and council officers what they're up to, and mostly they're obliged to tell you.

However you look at it, Green Friends, we'd like you to take away from this the point that there's often a lot more going on in the background than you generally get to hear about. Please dig and delve for yourselves, don't rely on what you read in the papers...