How much of a battle does Bercow face in Buckingham?

Further developments in Buckingham, John Bercow MP’s constituency, where convention dictates that other parties don’t put up a candidate against the incumbent Speaker:

UKIP is looking forward to a large donation, whilst claiming that fundraising on Bercow’s behalf breaches Parliamentary rules. Meanwhile, Buckingham Liberal Democrats announce their plan for the General Election.

The Times reports that a UKIP member from Buckingham has complained to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards after receiving a letter from fundraising team “The Friends of Speaker Bercow”:

[John Russell] has written to the commissioner expressing concern that The Friends of Speaker Bercow may be breaching parliamentary rules by appearing to operate in conjunction with the apolitical Office of the Speaker.

Strict rules govern how MPs electioneer and politicians are not allowed to use the machine of the taxpayer-funded civil service to help them with their campaigning, or exploit the services of Commons officials who are also paid by the state.

The so-called Friends of Speaker Bercow are a group of fundraisers who are trying to drum up £40,000 of donations to bankroll the MP’s constituency campaign at the election.

The letter from Bercow’s Friends reportedly says,

As Speaker of the House of Commons, in accordance with convention, John has had to resign his membership of the Conservative Party in order to fulfil the duties of his office. He will be standing at the forthcoming election without the financial support of a major political party. This means that John will have to fully fund his own campaign and this is why we need your help.

Nigel Farage, the former UKIP leader, is standing for the seat where political mega-donor Stuart Wheeler plans to give the party £100,000 to help it unseat Bercow.

Buckingham Liberal Democrats, meanwhile, have chosen a spokesperson rather than a candidate for the General Election. The local party’s website explains the appointment of Marie-Louise Rossi:

Marie-Louise has been chosen by the local party members but will not stand as the Parliamentary Candidate for the Liberal Democrats in Buckingham, in accordance with the convention that the major parties do not oppose the incumbent Speaker. She will make the case locally for the Party’s Manifesto, speaking on both national and local issues.

There’s already been debate here on the Voice, about John Bercow’s prospects in the General Election:

Stephen asked whether candidates should stand against Bercow in the Buckingham constituency and Philip Young asked, “Why shouldn’t Buckingham Liberal Democrats join in?”

Will the arrival of UKIP cash, or indeed a Liberal Democrat spokesperson, make a difference to the result in the seat with the highest Conservative majority of 2005?

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This entry was posted in General Election and News.


  • Surely the whole £100,000 couldn’t possibly be spent just to unset Mr Berkow after all that would mean that Farge’s Agent was spending significantly more than he would be able to declare.

  • LFAT, incredibly, many people don’t approach electoral politics as a question of “get incumbent X out and damn the consequences”. You may find that this would lead to a cycle of cynicism if it were the dominant paradigm.

  • If I lived in Buckingham, I would find myself unable to cast my vote for either Bercow or Farage. The former, as Speaker, would be unable to represent me, and as for Mr Farage, his behaviour in the European Parliament the other day proves him unfit for public office. What justification is there for disenfranchising those electors in Buckingham who want to vote Liberal Democrat? Other than deference to a flawed constitutional convention?

    LFAT: I want both Bercow AND Farage out. How do I go about it?

  • I see absolutely no reason why the lib dems shouldn’t stand a candidate. It seems absurd, why can’t the residents of Buckingham vote for a representative?

  • Agree with Sesenco and Harry D.
    If it’s a choice between offending the Speaker’s sensibilities and disenfranchising the voters I know which one seems more important.

  • Mark, agree that that is a problem, but there is a very simple solution: have a new election for speaker at the begining of every parliament. Small change, and the people of Buckingham will be enfranchised.

    (Yes right now, in the new parliament, the house may be packed with right-wing tories who will chose one of their own – but if that is a problem, then the idea of an impartial speaker needs to go, which I don’t think is necessary)

  • Malcolm Todd 27th Feb '10 - 10:00am

    Plenty of parliaments have speakers who are also fully political figures. The House of Commons is regularly chaired by one of several deputy speakers, who are also party members who fight fully contested elections. The idea that the Speaker needs to be some figure of Olympian detachment from the mucky-muck of proper politics is just flannel.

  • If the election in Buckingham is reduced to predominantly a question about who is going to split’s who’s vote, there is a good case for, at least, Alternative Vote.

    I do think that “Instant Run-Off” is, arguably, a better name for it than “Alternvative Vote”.

  • I imagine Buckingham members will generally be going to Oxford East or Newbury to help us win those seats.

  • Antony – or indeed to Northampton North, which is very winnable and also close to that constituency!

  • @Sesenco – absolutely agree that choosing between Bercow and Farage is no solution at all.

    Those two would never get my vote ‘under normal circumstances’ and the independent candidate doesn’t sound much cop (for a start, his website states that ‘we have been left without a full-time Conservative MP to represent our interests in Parliament’ – well yes, but that does give me the impression that he’s not the man for me seeing as he hasn’t even bothered to acknowledge that there might just be some non-Tory voters in Buckingham…)

    So what am I supposed to do as a disenfranchised Buckingham voter?

    Or are the other main parties just going admit that my vote is just not that important?

  • James – fair point. I guess what I am most disappointed by is the fact that none of the main parties seem particularly bothered …

  • If it’s not purely academic to ask, if John Stevens wins is he planning to take the Conservative whip, the Lib Dem whip, or neither?

2 Trackbacks

  • By Top of the Blogs: The Golden Dozen #158 on Sun 28th February 2010 at 9:36 pm.

    […] (Q4, 2009) by Stephen Tall on Lib Dem Voice. Who and where the party’s money comes from. 3. How much of a battle does Bercow face in Buckingham? by Helen Duffett on Lib Dem Voice. The choice before the voters: Bercow or Farage. So grateful I […]

  • By BNP announce Parliamentary Candidate for Buckingham on Tue 9th March 2010 at 1:10 pm.

    […] Liberal Democrats have chosen a spokesperson rather than a […]

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