Sunday, 12 February 2017

Impartiality guidelines

This morning's The Andrew Marr Show raised the issue of impartiality - in terms of the Speakership of the House of Commons and in terms of BBC presenters. and I had a wry smile over my face at something David Aaronovitch said... 

LAURA PERRINS: This is the story again of John Bercow, who seems to believe that the rules of Parliamentary neutrality do not apply to him. Coming after his outspoken remarks against President Trump, which I think bring Parliament into disrepute because he's clearly under a duty to remain neutral on these issues. He's also been found to be speaking in relation to Brexit. And of course, this has very serious implications because he'll be chairing the debate in relation to the Brexit bill, and for him to say "I voted to stay", I think puts him in an untenable position. 
ANDREW MARR: There's about twelve, I think, Tory MPs who have already lined up a motion against him. The question is does this story then turn that twelve into many, many more and start a process that gives him an impossible week? 
LAURA PERRINSI think there's a moral obligation now for him to stand down. It's very important that the Speaker is seen as being neutral. And the rules are very clear. It says that he must remain politically impartial at all times, and if you want to be Speaker = and you get various privileges that come with that role - then it's also your duty and your responsibility to remain impartial and not pick and choose your rules as you go ahead. 
ANDREW MARR: I saw a wry smile over David's face there. 
DAVID AARONOVITCH: I think it is daft. I really do. Who possibly imagined that John Bercow didn't have an opinion? And, incidentally, one of the candidates that the people who want Bercow out are saying should take over as Speaker is Jacob Rees-Mogg. No-one has the faintest idea want he thinks about Brexit, do they? You have an opinion, Andrew, but you're not allowed to voice it on this programme. But you will, when you go to schools, tell them what you think about things and you won't say "I can't have an opinion about it". We rely on you....
DAVID AARONOVITCH: do your job in the studio. We rely on the speaker to do his job in the House of Commons, not to be a political eunuch. 
LAURA PERRINS: No, the rules are very clear though. There's a reason behind the rules. They are not just there for the sake of it. He is chairing the debates, so it's incredibly important that's he's seen to be impartial and neutral. It doesn't say you must remain impartial neutral while chairing the debates. It says you have to remain impartial at all times. If he doesn't want the rules and wants to express his opinion - and, of course, he can have an opinion - if he wants to express the opinion don't take on the role. Just don't take on the role.


  1. Seems like it's not just the BBC who's become an enabler.

    Sharia on the NHS!

  2. DA could easily be played by that SNL fellow off 30 Rock, to broaden his repertoire.

    He (DA) is in the news a lot at the moment. Not necessarily in a good way.

    Maybe it was a BOGOF?

  3. Interesting to see Laura Perrins getting another spot on the BBC so soon after her QT appearance. The BBC slightly expanding their horizon at last?