Within a matter of days of Speaker John Bercow speaking out against Donald Trump addressing parliament in Westminster Hall, all kinds of chaos broke out. The first event was a motion of No Confidence in the Speaker based on the interpretation that his actions were partisan. I argued in my previous post that he was arguing in defence of democracy, and not taking a partisan stance. Given all this, I lobbied my MP on the issue:
Dear Lucy Powell,
I am writing to you concerning the recent actions of the House of Commons Speaker, John Bercow. As I’m sure you know he recently said that he would not invite Donald Trump to speak in Westminster Hall, citing the US migrant ban, his acts of racism and sexism, and hints at opposing an independent judiciary. This has been seen as a partisan act by some, and now there is a motion of No Confidence in John Bercow. I think that what the Speaker said was correct and appropriate for his role, so in the upcoming debate on the issue of No Confidence I would like you to ask the following question. Feel free to change the language as you see fit.
“The Speaker for the House has said that he would not invite President Donald Trump to speak in Westminster Hall. He said ‘As far as This Place 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’. I would like to ask the Honourable Member, in plain terms and with clarity, exactly which of those values is partisan. Which party or Member of this House does not oppose racism, sexism, or does not support equality before the law? Which party of Member of this House does not support an independent judiciary?”
I hope I can count on your support in this matter. The current Speaker is a moderating force in the House of Commons, and the opposition parties cannot be heard effectively without a fair and balanced Speaker.
So far my MP has ignored her own best judgement, the opinion of her constituency and my correspondence on the issue of Brexit. She put her own career ahead of the interests of her constituents and followed the party line. I doubt she’ll listen this time either.
Things then took a turn for the surreal, yet again. The Government decided that the State Visit should be moved to a time of the year when the Houses of Parliament are in recess, avoiding the issue entirely. At that point is seems as though the motion of No Confidence is somewhat moot (or maybe it’s not, I can’t really tell at this point.) Even with this news, there have been rumours of mass protests in London, and so now there are plans to move the State Visit to Birmingham, with an entry fee and proceeds going to the British Legion. This is a rather strange escalation if Trump aims to avoid embarrassment. His humiliation would be redoubled if thousands of protesters travelled to Birmingham, paid the entry fee (and made another voluntary donation to add insult to injury), turned up and to boo and slow clap him. None of that is beyond the abilities of the average London resident, and I get the impression that Trump doesn’t quite understand how small South England is compared to, say, New England. It should turn out to be an interesting State Visit after all.