Saturday, June 20, 2009

John Bercow’s anti-Catholic past

It has been suggested that there is a conspiracy afoot to smear John Bercow in order to stymie his quest to become the next Speaker of the House of Commons. Cranmer rather doubts this: he is not into conspiracies in any case, and even less is he inclined to propagate stuff and nonsense which might adversely affect Mr Bercow’s chances of becoming Speaker.

Good grief, no.

But Nadine Dorries MP believes John Bercow to be a closet Socialist (well, not so much closet as cupboard), and she discloses that she ‘will be studying the procedure, to call a Speaker re-election following a general election, very carefully; and will have that procedure engrained on my heart ready to go when the Conservative party take power.’

Engrained on her heart?

One wonders what Mr Bercow has done to merit such hatred and loathing.

Guido Fawkes has discovered (or, more likely, been sent by a 'stop Bercow' co-conspirator) this photograph dating from the late 80’s which purports to show John Bercow addressing the Glasgow Rangers Supporters Club. There is apparently the Rangers / red hand Ulster Defence Association poster on the wall behind him. It is reported that he heartily led the signing of some traditional Rangers songs, the lyrics of which Cranmer could not possibly reproduce here, not least because he has no means of corroborating their authenticity.

Cranmer had no idea that Mr Bercow was such a hot Prod in his past. Indeed, His Grace wonders how Mr Bercow has managed to lie so low and avoid the ‘bigotry’ radar of those very clever investigative journalists whose sole purpose in life is to expose anti-Catholic conspiracies and root out bigotry from under every cornflake. There was a time when a little residual anti-Catholicism was what made the English English. Certainly, through the Whig-Tory conflagrations of yesteryear, it forged the identity of the modern Conservative Party. But John Bercow appears to have rather more in his closet than is acceptable to the postmodern party: it would be no small irony if Michael Martin, Parliament’s first Roman Catholic Speaker since the Reformation, were to be replaced by a Sash-singing sectarian.

The Scottish Daily Record is already on to the case.

More 'stop Brecow' smearing?

Cranmer doubts the Daily Record is in cahoots with Mrs Dorries, who is even less likely to be conspiring with Mr Fawkes, who is even less likely to be part of a ‘Tory plot’ to ‘stop Bercow’. As with all such operations, it is not so much collusion and carefully-laid strategy as the coinciding of disparate and independent efforts to thwart the possibility.

The newspaper reveals that Mr Fawkes’ photograph dates back to a meeting of the ‘ultra-right Federation of Conservative Students’. This, of course, is unforgivable. One could overlook an address to the ultra-left Federation of Socialists Students, especially if Mr Bercow had also been singing anti-Protestant songs in a Celtic club. Such a revelation would do his quest to be speaker no harm at all. But knowing the words to ‘The Sash’ and singing about the IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands are beyond the pale.

And so John Bercow has been replaced by Labour's Margaret Beckett as favourite to be elected as Speaker. The fact that he has repented of his Protestant past and turned his back on his ultra-Right heritage do not appear to be helping his campaign.

Perhaps if he were to indicate his intention to follow Mr Blair across the Tiber, and ‘do God’ in the Roman fashion a little more convincingly and infinitely more contritely, he may win back a few votes on Monday. How else may one overcome ‘sectarian shame’?


Blogger Gnostic said...

Margaret Beckett as Speaker? After all the disasters she's presided over?


20 June 2009 at 11:06  
Anonymous Paul said...

They really think that people will accept Beckett as Speaker? Jesus Christ - they are more deluded than even I thought.

20 June 2009 at 11:21  
Anonymous Preacher said...

Your Grace.
Rumours even when accompanied by a photograph do not really prove ones affiliations. Indeed I, and probably Your Grace have been priveleged to speak in some very strange places when sharing the gospel of Our Lord.

20 June 2009 at 11:34  
Blogger Christian said...

Given that the English were UNREFORMED Catholic for 1000 years and these UNREFORMED Catholics have always maintained a presence amongst the English population for the following 400 years it seems to me a little absurd to say that anti-Catholicism is what makes the English English. I suspect Richard I, Henry V, Edward the Confessor and many more would have a few problems with that view. Perhaps it is what makes the Anglican English truly Anglican English; that would be reasonably true but not true of the English as a whole.

20 June 2009 at 11:40  
Blogger John Woolman said...

Times have changed. Yesterday the Scottish High Court ruled one Rangers' song, The Famine Song, to be racist. The defender of the miscreant Rangers fan was the doughty and alleged singer of songs about Fenian blood, Donald Findlay QC. (

When I worked in Glasgow some 25 years ago, sharing an office with a rabid Rangers fan, the singing of such songs at football matches and elsewhere was quite normal behaviour for many Glaswegians.

Seems a shame to cut Bercow out of the running just for what he is alleged to have done years ago when such behaviour was acceptable in what might have been regarded, by some, as civilised company in the west of Scotland, particularly considering the competition.

One wonders what songs may have been sung by the present Pope in his youth. There are few who would argue that that should have disqualified him from his present post. It is all relative.

20 June 2009 at 11:41  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr Preacher,

His Grace has indeed been priveleged to speak in some very strange places to some even stranger people, but he would not and could not 'heartily sing' in such gatherings any hymns or songs with which he found a degree of antipathy.

20 June 2009 at 11:45  
Blogger McKenzie said...

Caught red handed as the saying goes, but if it is to be a choice of these two, then I fear the worse.

Philippians 3:13-16 (King James Version).

13.Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
14.I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
15.Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.
16.Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.

20 June 2009 at 11:50  
Anonymous non mouse said...

It's all very mysterious.
I mean - if everyone who wants to qualify for a job in Parliament must be a Perfect Person - who never breathed a syllable of Political Incorrectness, and who never set a toe out of line...

then how did we end up with the motley crew we have there now?

20 June 2009 at 11:51  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr Christian,

Have you purposely misrepresented what His Grace said, or merely misread it?

He said, quite distinctly: There was a time when a little residual anti-Catholicism was what made the English English.

And his following sentence clearly establishes the historical context.

Yet you twist it into the present tense and dismiss this as 'absurd'.

The only absurdity is the inability to discuss the historic reality and present consequences of that reality without leaping to invective and insult which belong in another place.

20 June 2009 at 11:52  
Blogger McKenzie said...

Not being as clued up on all of this one would like to be, I have listened (read) Iain Dale's argument (opinion) and I am happy to put faith in his reasoning about Sir Alan Haselhurst as the next speaker.

I would not even consider putting Margaret Beckett through a tree shredder.

20 June 2009 at 12:38  
Blogger Christian said...

Dr Cranmer,

I did misread your post. I apologies for any offence caused.

20 June 2009 at 13:41  
Blogger FAIRFACTS MEDIA said...

The story about Bercow could well be true.
I remember he was quite high up in the FCS, leader pehaps.
And I remember going to one of these Glasgow Rangers Supporters gatherings sometime in the late 1980s.
A few did sing the sash but I cannot remember if Bercow was one of them.
I cannot recall what year or what city the gathering took place in.
It was all a very long time ago- at least 20 years.
I was at Warwick University then and was one of the members of it's campus Tory party.
The West Mids FCS were a radical bunch.
Anyway, it was all a long time ago and we have all, hopefully, grown up since then.
The wild excesses of youth, perhaps.
And I am sure no worse than what many of today's ZanuLiarbore students got up to in their youth as well.

20 June 2009 at 13:46  
Blogger FAIRFACTS MEDIA said...

I mean ZanuLiarbore MPs

20 June 2009 at 13:47  
Anonymous Old Grumpy said...

Your Grace - you know, this is but one reason why I enjoy your blog.
Communicants thereon (thank you, Mr Christian) are occasionally prepared to admit that they've got something wrong, and are prepared to apologise for it, instead of the normal descent into a flame war which becomes increasingly acrimonious, not to mention boring.

It's a rare degree of civility, and one which the House of Commons even more rarely subscribes to, more's the pity.

20 June 2009 at 15:01  
Anonymous sydneysider said...

@ John Woolman
Interesting reference to the Pope.
I believe it was compulsory to join the Hitler Youth when His Holiness was 14 so it is not really a comparable example.I've heard that he only mimed to the songs it doesn't count.
Probably stepping on a few toes here but appointing a German to the Papacy and a Scot as the British Prime Minster were not the best choices in these troubled times.

20 June 2009 at 16:21  
Anonymous Bethel said...

Mmm... bring on Margaret as many lovely hanging baskets around Parliament Square...

20 June 2009 at 17:14  
Anonymous Sandy Jamieson said...

I must admit, it is the one story that made me warm to Bercow.

You have to remember that sectarianism is ingrained in Scotland- curiously not because of the demands of the majority but becuase of the insistennce of the minority to retain their exclusivity. As a consequence, it is the minority who have suffered.

20 June 2009 at 18:51  
Anonymous Yokel said...

I live in the constituency that Bercow purports to represent.

It is clear that if he is successful in his campaign for Speaker, then we will have another Socialist in the chair. And even more cause for him not to represent his constituents.

If he does get the job, then there must be another break with tradition. He must be opposed at the election by a Stop Bercow candidate.

20 June 2009 at 19:13  
Blogger McKenzie said...

Gordon is disappointed with the personal attacks and says he would gladly walk away....WALK!

If you are looking for sympathy then please explain why it is due.

We have been lied to consistently and blatantly. Time and time again people have tried to be reasonable but to no avail. You will not answer a straight question with a straight answer.

Your ministers are aloof and refuse to address the concerns of the people who they are supposed to represent. They simply represent themselves.

Not all of this mess is your doing, Tony Blair has MUCH to answer for, but this is the problem...he walked at the first sign of trouble. This does not mean that you staying paints you in any more favorable light. Your motives have been long since understood in the public realm.

Many of us are sick of the way we have been treated Gordon. It's not that we wish to rush in a Tory government, but you have to go and go fast. You have failed on all fronts quite monumentally.

If you would gladly walk, then do it, maybe you will save yourself from just one more failure. Your simple lack of capacity to understand why this country is in this mess, is in its self one of the major reasons why the mess is here. It's not just you, there is in fact very few MP's that understand what it is that people have had enough of.

The whole lot of you are quite sickening. Do NOT expect any sympathy. Things have exceeded the normal parameters of civility. You have gone beyond insult.

GO, and take the rest of them with you....if you please.

20 June 2009 at 19:18  
Anonymous no nonny said...

Dr. Brown -
I second what Mr. McKenzie said.

20 June 2009 at 22:13  
Anonymous not a mouse said...

btw: Bercow looks very young for a Speaker.

20 June 2009 at 22:15  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Looks like Beckett is not only leading the field of prospective Speakers candidates, she has the highest trough factor too.


21 June 2009 at 07:45  
Blogger The Young Oligarch said...

Your Grace ,

I have looked closely at the photograph which you reproduce and can find no trace of anything referring to the UDA . The closest is our country's flag , emblazoned with the legend "Rangers" and possibly with the Red Hand of Ulster underneath .

Admittedly the Labour/Sinn Fein party in West/Central Scotland regard the display of our country's flag with contempt and they are , currently , very powerful people .

Mr.Bercow seems to be pictured in the 1980's when our country was under daily attack from this Labour/Sinn Fein tendency .

I know what songs I sang at political/footballing gatherings to express my hatred for our enemies and my support for our countrymen .

I am not ashamed , but proud !
So should be Mr.Bercow .

21 June 2009 at 15:47  
Anonymous Alphasilk said...

ER.... but at this stage John Bercow was Jewish....

21 June 2009 at 23:31  
Blogger North Northwester said...

the ‘ultra-right Federation of Conservative Students’.

O, happy days of my youth.

Or is that my father's youth, and byegone days of yore?

Multiple good points, The Young Oligarch, and well pointed out Alphasilk.

We ALL sang the bloody Sash back then, and wierder, more Right-wing stuff as well and we turned out alright.

Unlike much of the 'Conservative' Party.

21 June 2009 at 23:53  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As per alphasilk I too was under the impression JB was Jewish ....

As for the youngoligarch's comments perhaps he is not aware of how many Catholics in the police and military died defending the UK.

Anne Widdicombe for speaker - no material expenses taint, she's said she'll reform and then step down (a Cinncinatus for our times)and she's her own person.

22 June 2009 at 00:07  
Blogger The Young Oligarch said...

Anonymous -

"As for the youngoligarch's comments perhaps he is not aware of how many Catholics in the police and military died defending the UK."

I am very much aware , Sir .

"Fenians" are not necessarily Roman Catholics and Roman Catholics are not necessarily "Fenians" .

Our Roman Catholic brethern in Northern Ireland and Scotland who resist this evil political philosophy are worthy of the highest respect .

Our current government is ,however , in thrall to the "Fenian" tendency in emigre Irish politics .

Attacking , or de-moralising ,the ultra-British majority in west/cental Scotland is part of their feeble attempt to cling on to power .
I , for one , will stand against them , as true Britons have always done .

North Northwester -

Thank you for your approbation .

There is not an anti-Roman Catholic word in "The Sash" , however .

Perhaps we should start to castigate the RC church for being anti-Protestant ?

Calvinophobia , anyone ?

22 June 2009 at 01:53  
Blogger The Young Oligarch said...

Several commenters have remarked upon Mr.Bercow's Jewish origin .

Let me refer them to the case of Sir Roy Welensky , Prime Minister of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland .
He is often quoted as describing himself as "half Jewish, half Afrikaner [and] 100% British".

Mr. Anonymous -

I fear we do not need a Cinncinatus , but a Sulla .

God willing , it will not come to that .

22 June 2009 at 02:10  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WILL this country GET a

I thought that RIGHT HONOURABLE meant that MPs were RIGHT HONOURABLE.

BUT NO they all seem to be as bent as fish hooks.

Having one of the DISHONOURABLES that have proven to the country that they are NOT RIGHT HONOURABLE anywhere near our seat of government is TOTALY DISGUSTING.

And will who ever becomes speaker be FREE OF DISHONOUR???

Or will they be one of the DISHONOURABLES that the POLICE will proscecute IF they have the NERVE to PROSCECUTE or will that be another COVER UP????

22 June 2009 at 21:02  
Blogger news said...

Maybe he is a relative of Stephen Berkoff, the actor and director.

Has anyone found out where his forebears immigrated from. No sectarian, religious reason, just interest.

23 June 2009 at 09:21  

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