In partial defence of Sally Bercow


by Rumbold
20th September, 2010 at 9:45 am    

Sally Bercow, best known as the wife of the Speaker, has come in for criticism once again after repeatedly tweeting various controversial views. Sally Bercow deserves to be heavily criticised for her use of ‘mental’ to describe George Osbone; a sadly all too common theme amongst people who feel that mocking mental issues and the people who suffer from them is the best way to criticise an opponent’s policies.

That aside, some of the criticism is unfair and sexist. A number of critics have called for the Speaker to ‘rein in’ his wife, as if she is some sort of animal. Mrs. Bercow is entitled to air her opinions on whatever she sees fit. It was her husband who was elected to the speaker’s chair, not her. She should be free to continue her political career, providing that she doesn’t not use the resources of the Speaker’s office to do so:

Some critics have said her comments cheapen the historic office of Speaker. And the fact that the Speaker is supposed to be impartial is undermined by Mrs Bercow’s attempts to find a Labour seat so she can become an MP, they claim. In May, Mrs Bercow failed in an attempt to become a Labour councillor.

Tory MP Nadine Dorries said Mrs Bercow only had a platform because of her husband and should not be using it to attack her party. She said: ‘It is absolutely outrageous that she should now be commenting on debates that the Speaker may or may not have granted. ‘It is totally unprecedented, unseemly and in bad taste. Mrs Bercow is letting down Parliament and the majority of people think she should just shut up.

Moreover, John Bercow was already politically compromised when he was elected, having been put in the chair despite massive expenses fraud, solely to annoy Conservative MPs.


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Filed in: Party politics,Sex equality






30 Comments below   |  

Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. sunny hundal

    Blogged: : In partial defence of Sally Bercow http://bit.ly/ctX0Zy


  2. Dr Shibley Rahman

    @SallyBercow RT @sunny_hundal

    Blogged: : In partial defence of Sally Bercow http://bit.ly/ctX0Zy


  3. earwicga

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : In partial defence of Sally Bercow http://bit.ly/ctX0Zy


  4. Katie

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : In partial defence of Sally Bercow http://bit.ly/ctX0Zy




  1. earwicga — on 20th September, 2010 at 9:54 am  

    I think Nadine Dories should ‘just shut up’. Her campaign against Sally Bercow is disgraceful.

  2. douglas clark — on 20th September, 2010 at 10:23 am  

    Have you ever noticed that folk that say ‘outrageous’ are, more often than not, hysterical?

  3. Jacquie R — on 20th September, 2010 at 10:35 am  

    Am a huge fan of Sally Bercow, who brightens up the day with her witty and incisive comments on Twitter and she has every right to. Hate to trot out that over-used phrase but she has achieved Twitter National Treasure status.

    Objectively, though, should the spouse of the Speaker be allowed to use their position to further their own political career and opinions? To be honest, probably not. Tried to imagine it the other way round, i.e. a Labour speaker with a Tory spouse, repeatedly promoting themselves and commenting on issues. Think I’d find it a tiny bit objectionable.

    #consistencyfail obvs, as Sally might say, but long may she continue to espouse her progressive views in the interests of humanity and social justice! As for Nadine Dorries, she should get a life!

  4. Markby — on 20th September, 2010 at 10:44 am  

    Agreed, Rumbold. People can make up their own minds about Sally Bercow and George Osbourne, and she’s not responsible to Parliament.

    As you say, the fact that Bercow was elected despite his involvment in the expenses scandal is what really cheapened the office. I would have been happy with a speaker from any party who was at least ‘clean’.

  5. Page With A View — on 20th September, 2010 at 12:06 pm  

    I agree some of the criticism is unfair – she is independent of the Speaker, not his chattel, so she should be able to freely speak her mind.

    However, by doing so, she consistently sticks her foot in it – Labour should consider whether such a gaffe prone woman is bringing them into disrepute, never mind the office of Speaker…

  6. Wibble — on 20th September, 2010 at 1:44 pm  

    Good link to the Bella Gerens’ blog and somebody being labelled “autistic”. Isn’t that Osborne got himself into hot water in regards to Gordon Brown?

  7. Kismet Hardy — on 20th September, 2010 at 2:20 pm  

    I totally agree calling someone with mental health issues ‘mental’ is as out of order as calling someone with learning difficulties a ‘retard’, but if the said person doesn’t have any certified condition, there’s nothing wrong with the word. I understand the mental state in question was a diagnosis made by some cock called Guido, a bit like (if nowhere near as poetically) as Hunter S Thompson’s baseless but relentless insistence that the politician Edward Muskie was hooked on ibogaine. As far as the word mental stands, I’ll always know it as a popular term in the rave days, that still suggests ‘wild’ and ‘out there’.

  8. Sunny — on 20th September, 2010 at 2:40 pm  

    Moreover, John Bercow was already politically compromised when he was elected, having been put in the chair despite massive expenses fraud, solely to annoy Conservative MPs.

    Rubbish – he was elected because he was about the only Tory Labour could respect.

    I agree on the ‘mental’ point tho – that isn’t right.

  9. Rumbold — on 20th September, 2010 at 3:47 pm  

    Earwiga:

    The upside is that anyone/anything attaked by Nadine ususally attracts a greater following.

    Good point Markby. Thanks Wibble.

    Sunny:

    Rubbish – he was elected because he was about the only Tory Labour could respect.

    Heh. No, he was elected in revenge for the Conservative ousting of Michael Martin; if they had wanted a candidate acceptable to all sides of the House they would have plumped for a Lib Dem. But I understand why you have to say what you say.

  10. earwicga — on 20th September, 2010 at 3:59 pm  

    Funnily enough I heard about Sally Bercow through Nadine Dorries coverage. Spot on Rumbold :)

  11. GW — on 20th September, 2010 at 6:01 pm  

    “Moreover, John Bercow was already politically compromised when he was elected, having been put in the chair despite massive expenses fraud, solely to annoy Conservative MPs.!

    And after the visious class based attacks on Speaker Martin I have not got the slightest problem with that !

    GW

  12. Sunny — on 21st September, 2010 at 2:11 am  

    if they had wanted a candidate acceptable to all sides of the House they would have plumped for a Lib Dem.

    And you think anyone would have paid attention to a Libdem?

  13. Rumbold — on 21st September, 2010 at 10:31 am  

    Sunny:

    The mood among many was for a speaker untainted by the expenses scandal and respected by all parties. A few Lib Dems fitted this bill. Bercow didn’t (massive expenses fraud, disliked by large numbers of Conservatives).

    Kismet:

    The problem is using a condition as a term of abuse. Having mental issues isn’t something to mock, or use as an insult. Imagine if I spent my days calling anyone who disagreed with me “cancer victims” in a sneering way. That is what Sally Bercow did.

  14. Shatterface — on 21st September, 2010 at 2:18 pm  

    ‘Have you ever noticed that folk that say ‘outrageous’ are, more often than not, hysterical?’

    Tut, tut. ‘Hysterical’s far more offensive than ‘mental’ (which I use myself, despite being bipolar): it’s rooted in misogyny as well as prejudice against nutters.

    And ‘retard’s no different from ‘thick’. If you can’t criticise your opponents for being mad or stupid, what’s left? ‘Wrong’? Not exactly hard-hitting, is it?

  15. damon — on 21st September, 2010 at 3:57 pm  

    I’d never heard of Sally Bercow until after her husband became speaker. It’s amusing the way they mention that on Newsnight and she is obliged to say something about that, before they move on to some topic,.
    There’s nothing wrong with saying something’s mental btw.

    Do you tut tut through programmes like ‘This is England 1986′ because that is how people actually speak – or spoke?

  16. Kismet Hardy — on 21st September, 2010 at 4:20 pm  

    Sorry Rumbold, I’m with Shatterface and Damon. Words are there to use as an arsenal as and when necessary, and given a choice, I’d always rather be called a Dirty Fuckwit Paki by someone coming at me with a bunch of pansies rather than someone calling me Intelligent, Sexy and Beautiful while wielding a baseball bat with a rusty nail stuck to it

  17. Don — on 21st September, 2010 at 5:00 pm  

    I just generally describe my opponents as intrinsically evil and destined to spend eternity in hell.

    Hang on a minute – that’s the Pope.

  18. Rumbold — on 22nd September, 2010 at 8:27 am  

    He Don.

    Shatterface, Damon and Kismet:

    Words aren’t the be all and end all, and actions are more important, but they can contribute to a cycle of abuse, and should be tackled.

  19. douglas clark — on 22nd September, 2010 at 8:59 am  

    Shatterface @ 14,

    I’ve re-read your post about half a dozen times and I’m really not sure whether you are defending me or attacking me :-(

    Och, did I miss the memo that appears to have been sent out that said:

    Only incredibly serious posts will be accepted on this web site. Flippancy is next to devil worship and will not be tolerated.

    Seems to me that there are a few folk around here that would like that to be the policy.

    Sometimes, the only way to deal with idiocy is through satire. However poor or weak that satire might be.

    I seem to recall quite a few witty posts from your good self, that only a seriously deranged monomaniac could have taken offense at.

    Oops!

    Me?

    I, thought they were funny….

    New rules:

    If you wish to post here, under no circumstances try to be funny. We have teams of Puritans that will deliberately take offense, and then you’ll be sorry! Jokes about the French will come under especial scrutiny and the word ‘hysterical’ only refers to the, ahem, feminine gender! Be warned! We are on the lookout to take offence!

    It’d be a sad day if humour, even sad and bad humour, was seen that way.

    A Frankie Boyle fan.

  20. douglas clark — on 22nd September, 2010 at 9:47 am  

    One of the things I love about this site is the way a thread will go completely ‘off topic’. Which, if I’m allowed an opinion at all, this one has.

    Even the author is dragged into some sort of defence of something he didn’t even touch on in his original opinion piece.

    Rumbold is right. Words do matter. Not because as Kismet Hardy says:

    I’d always rather be called a Dirty Fuckwit Paki by someone coming at me with a bunch of pansies rather than someone calling me Intelligent, Sexy and Beautiful while wielding a baseball bat with a rusty nail stuck to it.

    It is not that either scenario is likely, it is however quite credible that someone who wrote “a Dirty Fuckwit Paki” is indeed a pansy, and is trying to stir up the folk with the baseball bats with the dirty nail.

    There is that element of evil intent amongst some folk.

    Godwin warning!

    Did Hitler directly kill anyone? I suspect not.

  21. kismet hardy — on 22nd September, 2010 at 12:09 pm  

    All I’m saying dougie is that Hitler called me names, I am equipped to cuss him back and I daresay make him cry a bit. If however his blackshirts came silently towards me, I’d be fucked

  22. douglas clark — on 22nd September, 2010 at 3:44 pm  

    True Kismet, but the little baby boy – they are almost always boys ain’t they – was not born with a nazi tattoo. He became what he became, perhaps through reading a wimps idea of a better planet, which I think is called ‘Mein Kamph’

    The point merely being that words can stir actions.

    And, sadly, do.

    _____________________________

    Anyways, I thought our beloved fuhrer (trade mark Lee John Barnes or whatever the fuck his name was) had a sliding scale of people for the gas chamber? Jai was first, I was second, Jews were third, after that the rabble of anyone that has ever written anything on Pickled Politics and then anyone that won’t fuck John Lee Barnes. Knowt to do with Asians, no siree. Well, until later….

    I think I have got that about right….

    ____________________________________

    The latter half of this post does not meet any criteria for being taken seriously. Indeed critics will be mocked….

    For being completely and utterly up their own arses.

  23. Rumbold — on 22nd September, 2010 at 4:41 pm  

    Douglas:

    The threads which go off on a tangent are the best ones. And I feel that people raised reasonable points; why do words matter so much in some cases? Because of their impact.

  24. Don — on 22nd September, 2010 at 5:20 pm  

    I think Tim Minchin put it pretty well.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVN_0qvuhhw

  25. douglas clark — on 22nd September, 2010 at 7:05 pm  

    Rumbold @ 23,

    Absolutely correct. I’d go as far as to say you made more cogent points in this thread than you did in starting it :-)

    Don @ 24,

    Tim Minchen is my hero.

  26. persephone — on 22nd September, 2010 at 11:24 pm  

    I like the tim minchen link

    As to the impact of words – words create impressions and build cerebral connections. What we hear influences how we think and feel – how we feel impacts us physically and mentally and thoughts influence actions … so the adage “ sticks & stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me” does not ring true in reality

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