‘Whining Bercow should look in the mirror’

‘Whining Bercow should look in the mirror’: Furious MPs hit back at Speaker’s complaint about  ‘public school  twittishness’ at PMQs

Published: 19th February 2014

BercowMPs today rounded on John Bercow for  complaining about ‘yobbery’ and ‘public  school twittishness’ at Prime Minister’s Questions.

The Commons Speaker has written to David  Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg warning the public risk being alienated from  democracy by the ya-boo nature of the weekly confrontation.

But Tory MPs hit back, accusing Mr Bercow of  ‘whining’ and losing control of the Commons because of his ‘bias’ towards  Labour, adding that one of his predecessors, Baroness Boothroyd, had never felt  the need to complain.

It follows MailOnline’s revelation that  members of the public have written to Mr Bercow criticsing him directly  for  his handling of PMQs.

Some  viewers accused the Speaker of treating the Prime Minister ‘like a two-year-old’  and ‘appalling behaviour’ in letting Labour ‘get away with saying what they  want’.

Despite PMQs being the only regular event in  parliament to gain any signiciant number of viewers, Mr Bercow has railed  against the wall of noise that faces Mr Cameron and Mr Miliband in particular as  they clash over the despatch box.

But Tory MP Alec Shelbrooke compared Mr  Bercow’s troubles to predecessor Bettey Boothroyd who he said had ‘no need to  resort to whining’ while Sarah Wollaston said it was up to the Speaker to not  call people responsible for heckling.

Mr Bercow’s letter to the party leaders comes  in the wake of a string of boisterous and loud exchanges which, according to a  recent study, is alienating the public.

But he also claimed ‘good female’ MPs were  leaving Parliament – with the charged comment that they were ‘less inclined to  screech and shout’.

A Hansard Society report revealed that   67 per cent of respondents felt ‘there is too much party political  points-scoring instead of answering the question’.

Only 12 per cent agreed that ‘PMQs makes me  proud of Parliament’.

Mr Bercow said he was not expecting  MPs to  behave like ‘Trappist monks’ and appreciated ‘passions will be  aroused’ in the  Commons.

But he added: ‘There are people who think  culturally the atmosphere is very male, very testosterone-fuelled and, in the  worst cases, [full] of  yobbery and public school twittishness’.

The Speaker told The Independent that he regretted that ‘some  very good female members of Parliament on  both sides’ are leaving the Commons  at the next election, and added that women were generally ‘less inclined to  screech and shout’.

However MPs suggested the solution to the  problem lay with Mr Bercow himself.

Tory Alec Shelbrooke wrote on Twitter:  ‘Bercow needs to look in the mirror. Betty [Boothroyd] never had the need to  resort to whining.  His biased approach is why he’s lost control of  PMQ’s.’

Sarah Wollaston, Tory MP for Totnes, said:  ‘Speaker could just stop calling the worst PMQ hecklers & ban the crap  planted “helpful” questions.’

Douglas Carswell, Conservative MP for  Clacton, also wrote on Twitter: ‘New Bercow doctrine for  PMQs?: narks  never called. Planted questioners told to sit down.’

Others on Twitter were divided. Walaa Idris  said: ‘Speaker Bercow’s complaints about heckling MPs at PMQs doesn’t make any  sense when he has the power to decide which questions are asked.’

Marcus Stead said: ‘What is John Bercow  talking about? PMQs would be very dull without any jeering. Most views [sic]  quite like it.’

Last year MailOnline revealed  public disgust at ‘braying’ MPs during Prime Minister’s Questions is laid bare  today, in a catalogue of angry  letters to Mr Bercow which branded them morons,  t**ts and a throwback to the 19th  century.

Dozens  of complaints were sent to the  Speaker’s office from September to November  about the behaviour of  heckling, insulting and  guffawing MPs in the House of  Commons.

While the postbag fell short of the ‘bucket  loads’ which Mr Bercow boasted  of receiving every week, it revealed some of the  anger at Mr Cameron and Mr Miliband.

Mr Bercow has been dogged by bad publicity  since taking up the role as  Speaker, and he is seen by Tory MPs as being biased  towards the Labour  Party.

Letters, emails and web messages  repeatedly  accused MPs of behaving like football hooligans, naughty  schoolchildren, ‘rowdy  buffoons’, ‘morons’ and ‘braying donkeys’ who do  not live in the real  world.

It is claimed MPs behave like 19th century  ‘public schoolboys’ who think  they are still in the Bullingdon Club, the Oxford  University dining  society which counted Mr Cameron and George Osborne as  members and is  famed for smashing up restaurants.

However Mr Bercow himself also faced  criticism,  with one letter warning ‘revolution will be inevitable’ if he is  unable to act to curb the noise.

A couple of  letters even chided the Speaker  for complaining that the public do not  like the noisy hullabaloo every  Wednesday at midday.

One email said: ‘I do not find the noise  levels a problem at all; the microphones in the  chamber do an excellent job of  amplifying the voices of the speakers.

‘I would far rather listen to  PMQs with the barracking and noise from the  backbenchers, than having the  Speaker interrupt the Prime Minister and  the Leader of the Opposition when they  are in mid-sentence.’