John Bercow was first elected to represent Buckingham in 1997 with a majority of 12,386 and was re-elected as a Conservative MP in 2001 and 2005 with increased majorities.
He served as a front bench spokesman for Education and Employment, for Home Affairs and was a member of the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, as Shadow Work and Pensions Minister and later as Shadow Secretary for International Development.
In November 1998, John was given the award of “Backbencher to Watch” in the Spectator Parliamentarian of the Year Awards. In February 2005, in a ballot of his parliamentary colleagues, he won the Channel Four/Hansard Society Political Award for Opposition MP of the Year. In December 2005, John was voted the “Backbencher of the Year” in The House Magazine awards. John was named “Health/International Champion of the Year” at the Charity Champion Awards 2007.
John was appointed by the Secretary of State for Education to lead a review of services for children and yound people with speech, language and communication needs. The final report was published in July 2008.
In 2009 John was elected by a secret ballot of all MPs as the 157th Speaker of the House of Commons. As convention requires, on election by MPs, the Speaker must become independent of Party. Some seeking to make mischief in the constituency suggested that John could not represent Buckingham effectively as the Speaker. However in reality as Speaker John has MORE access to Government Ministers and is able to represent constituents direct to the people who make decisions in this country.
John says, “As an independent Member of Parliament I have more rather than less freedom to take up the issues and concerns of my constituents, HS2 being a notable case in point. As Speaker, I have greater access to Ministers, and frequently meet with them in Speaker’s House in order to make representations on behalf of local residents.”
In 2010, in line with convention, John stood for re-election as Member of Parliament as ‘The Speaker Seeking Re-election’. He was returned by a majority of over 12,000 against a range of candidates including UKIP’s Nigel Farage who’s challenge naturally received high profile media attention.
After finishing a poor third, Mr Farage said, “I wasn’t to know just how popular John Bercow was with his constituents in Buckingham and that really is what shone out of that result.”
John Bercow has told the press that he wanted to run for the job of Speaker because, “… I felt that there was a task to be undertaken and that’s about strengthening backbench involvement and opportunity in parliament, and helping parliament get off its knees and recognise that it isn’t just there as a rubber-stamping operation for the government of the day, and as necessary and appropriate to contradict and expose the government of the day.”
Examining his record as Speaker, John says, “Reform is a process, not an event. As Speaker, I am proud to have earned the reputation of putting the local MP at the heart of Parliamentary business, by allowing more backbench colleagues the opportunity to ask questions and scrutinise government policy. I have allowed an unprecedented number of Urgent Questions to be asked of government Ministers at the request of ordinary Members. I have also taken the view that the Speaker should be an ambassador for Parliament so when I am not undertaking my duties in the chair or out and about in the Buckingham constituency, I am often found visiting schools and community groups, answering questions about my role and the role of MPs. I am like to think I am a reforming Speaker where reform is needed, whilst being simultaneously deeply protective of the history and tradition in which our democracy is steeped.”
John regularly gives lectures about how Parliament works and its modernisation in recent years. You can watch one such lecture, delivered at the University of Buckingham, below:.
Photos : UK Parliament