« And so it begins... (or is that 'continues') | Main | Rolling blog on the reshuffle »


We're hearing that Chris Patten may be Foreign Secretary.

Well, if this scenario were to arise, I doubt if it would be a terribly difficult decision for Cameron.

Perhaps best not to comment unless it happens. John Bercow denied he was going to cross the floor so being an honourable man we should all expect him to keep his word shouldn't we?

Many years ago, when Bercow was supposedly a right-winger, I arranged for him to address a meeting of a school debating society. The master who ran these events was a friend of mine and wanted a leading member of the then-controversial FCS or YCs.

Needless to say Bercow eagerly agreed.

Two days before the event I phoned his home to make final arrangements. 'But he's gone to Hong Kong' his mother bleated. I had to work fast to organise a replacement speaker.

I have never had any time at all for Bercow since he let me down and his ridiculous far-left posturings of the last four or five years come as no surprise whatsoever.

Unlike Quentin Davies, who is basically a decent and honest man, Bercow will be no loss at all.

Whether Labour would want him is a different matter.

To be shot of 'portable principles' Bercow - surely to good to be true?

I think Bercow would be ideal as a PPS to a Labour Minister....but I still believe Cameron could become Culture Secretary in a Brown Cabinet

A party without Patten, Bercow and Davies. We'll finally be a sect!

Would this be the same Chris Patten who decided that after 150 years without democracy in Hong Kong it was imperative to introduce it just 5 years before the handover to the Chinese?

What would be next up his sleeve?

A nuclear power station for Gibraltar?
Home Rule for the Falklands?
Annexing the Channel Islands so they lose their tax status?

Not long for GB to change his mind.

Patricia Hewitt is 'standing down'. Apparantly.

Jump before you're pushed in the phrase

I agree it would not be difficult for Cameron to decide what to do. You cannot join a Government and remain a member of an Opposition Party unless there is a coalition...(period).

He could join the Cabinet without joining the Labour Party however.

What is rather amazing about all of this is why any Conservative would have resisted the temptation to defect during Blair - who was certainly not a socialist - and then do so on the advent of Brown, who almost certainly is. Except the lure of office offered, and the frustration of ambition denied, of course.

Please keep this thread for Bercow and defection stuff. I'll start a new thread for the reshuffle!

Londoner, you have answered your own question in your last sentence. Labour knows that Tories are much easier to buy than the other way around. Operation Gobble taught them that much.

Patten would seem unlikely in the light of this post:

Scroll down to the bottom for him saying that he has to write 50,000 words for his book while abroad in July and August.

"Labour knows that Tories are much easier to buy than the other way around. Operation Gobble taught them that much."

Michael, petty insult to Conservatives aside I would agree that it is easier for the party in government to tempt an opposition politician with a promise of cabinet office rather than the other way around.

He's unlikely to say 'no, Prime Minister, I can't be Foreign Secretary', I have a book to write.

Patten's opposition to the Iraq war must rule him out of being Foreign Secretary.

But, CCHQ Spy, it doesn't exactly look like he's been in discussions about a return to politics.

I don't agree, though, that opposition to the war in Iraq would rule him out. He might be ideal for Brown to get onside to take the troops out...

If Bercow does jump, he'll be the first Labour M.P. for Buckingham since Robert Maxwell (1966-1970)

Anyone own a Yacht?

I hope he doesn't manage pensions as well.

Are any other MP's at risk? Perhaps Cameron and the whips better go and do some loving.

Cameron to lose another MP?

How careless!

Perhaps he should tag them all?

Scotty, it wasn't an insult. Look at the track record: which members of the Labour Party defected to the Tories or colluded with them from 1979-1997? The only one I can think of is Reg Prentice and he switched for policy reasons before Thatcher came to power. There were defections to the SDP of course but that was a leftwing party. Labour has much greater ideological cohesion than the Tories and therefore its disgruntled members are much harder to pick off. I doubt whether Kate Hoey or Frank Field will defect.

Kinnock is hovering in the Labour wings.Had quite a lot of media exposure this last month too.

Well, defections to labour are less damaging than defections to UKIP or BNP so the speak.

Cameron probably isn't too worried about it.

If Bercow accepts the job it should be with Cameron's consent or not at all.

If Cameron does not accept and Bercow persists then the whip should be withdrawn. He cannot be part of the Government and the Opposition.

Oswald Mosley moved from Conservative Party to Independent to Labour and challenged McDonald over the Mosley Memorandum before founding the New Party


Gosh - I wish Vaizey had been offered a job as junior paper clip shuffler to to a parliamentary under secretary......

"He cannot be part of the Government and the Opposition."

Oh, that's just so old politics.

If Cameron comes over all tribal, he'll look so out of date.

It is unlikely that Bercow will defect. He will not want to swap Buckingham for an inner city seat in a Labour heartland. My money is on a former Tory Minister who thinks that his talents have been overlooked by Cameron.

My money is on a former Tory Minister who thinks that his talents have been overlooked by Cameron.

Not John Redwood !

or do you mean Peter Bottomley ?

I don't know who 'Traditional Tory' is, and I never want to know. John Bercow has been absolutely outstanding - more than outstanding - on human rights issues, especially Burma and Darfur. I work closely with him and think extremely highly of him. I hope and pray that the rumours are false, because he would be a big loss to our benches. I don't necessarily agree with him on everything, but on foreign policy and human rights I am a major fan of his!!! I also think bloggers who say 'good riddance' to Chris Patten are seriously misguided. I disagree with Patten on things like Europe, but what he did in Hong Kong was courageous. He is also a charismatic, thoughtful heavyweight.

Looking at the photo, wasn't John Bercow on the Wombles ?!

Enough with the Chris Patton love-in. The man was a hand-wringing lefty when we were in Government and a profoundly arrogant Party Chairman. By contrast Francis Maude looks like a favourite Uncle.

I never thought Patton was a conservative, I wouldn't trust him as far as I could throw him and thousands of Conservatives, including me, cheered when he lost his seat.

No spine, sneering and usless in a tight corner

Defect? Tory Gain

My view is that if Patten is offered Foreign Secretary or Bercow International Development Secretary they should take it. I'd rather have Conservatives in charge of those government departments than Socialists. I guess they would have to resign the whip, at least in the short term, but I don't see why they should leave the Party - it isn't as though their joining the government would be on their own initiative. So why not? If Brown is daft enough to offer Conservatives these jobs, why shouldn't they take them?

Ben Rogers - I don't know who 'Traditional Tory' is, and I never want to know.

And you're not going to be told either, Ben.

I've read your comments on Burma with interest. The human rights problem there is one that needs to be tackled with great delicacy and diplomacy by the international community. I realise you mean well, but emotional posturings are more likely to prove counter-productive.

Not that such hard facts would concern John Bercow.

Those of us who recall Bercow of old can take our pick as to whether we most dislike the pro-repatriation homophobic ranter of the past or the socialist intriguer of today. Two sides of the same coin, really.

Either way, Ben, your Bercow fan club is unlikely to reach beyond single figures.

Traditional Tory, do you work for the Foreign Office? Your snide-ness reminds me of Sir Percy Craddock - a typical appease-artist.

Traditional Tory, may I ask have you ever been to Burma? Have you ever crossed the border unofficially, into the conflict-ridden jungles, to meet internally displaced people and hear their stories of rape, forced labour, torture, destruction and killing? I have made 18 visits to Burma and its borders - the Thai, India and China borders and inside. I hope that what I am about is a little more than 'emotional posturing'. I wonder though why you think highlighting the crimes against humanity in Burma will be 'counter-productive'>

stories of rape, forced labour, torture, destruction and killing? I have made 18 visits to Burma and its borders

Similarly tragic stories are legion across Asia, Africa and South America.

Almost anywhere man rears his ugly head, in fact. Outside the ivory tower of the democratic West we live in a savage world.

Constructive engagement, preferably channelled via the United Nations is invariably more effective than confrontation.

Oh dear... Bercow. I take the points Ben Rogers makes in his defence because he seems to write with authority. It just goes to show that life is too detailed to allow for admiration or contempt. There remains, however, a basic truth in Trad Tory's understanding. Bercow's whole outlook on life has been in flux of late; it was always slightly crazy and now he's overcompensating for past excesses. He's a sort of poor man's Portillo. Repenting his nationalist past he hass become a multi-culti patsy; remorse for his Fawltiesque sexual morality, has made him eager to throw babies into the arms of any kind of couple - unless they smoke, I presume. And at the end of the day, though his heart - when it is not obscuring his cufflinks - is in the right place, he is really a rather silly little man.

Traditional Tory, do you work for the Foreign Office? Your snide-ness reminds me of Sir Percy Craddock - a typical appease-artist.

Sir Percy's views have been vindicated by the successful transition of Hong Kong from colonial rule to Chinese partnership.

Patten was a ineffectual dreamer; his time at the colony an utter and untoward waste of time which did much to promote misunderstanding between Britain and the Peoples' Republic of China.

Full marks also (for once) to the late Sir Edward Heath for condemning the philosophical incoherence of the Patten approach.

though his heart - when it is not obscuring his cufflinks - is in the right place, he is really a rather silly little man

This reminds me of two of the few printable stories about Bercow during his student days.

Some Tory grandee was invited to speak to the FCS branch where Bercow was chairman and the little man had 'nothing to wear'. Luckily there was a sale on down in the town and he immediately bought himself a sports jacket.

A few days later Bercow stepped forward to greet the VIP. As he raised his arm to shake hands, Bercow proudly displayed the Burtons label on the cuff, which he had neglected to remove.

On another occasion some wag nailed to the union notice board a disgusting piece of pizza which had been trodden on by umpteen dirty boots.

To this work of art he added the subscription 'Portrait of John Bercow'

Is this was passes for 'amusement' in your world traditional tory: that someone bought a sports jacket from Burtons? How you must laugh yourself stupid when you meet the working classes.

My dear Traditional Tory ... I thought you sounded like Sir Percy Craddock. Now I think you are Sir Percy Craddock! I am afraid we clearly fundamentally disagree on many things. I am somewhat ashamed to be in the same party as someone who is as unpleasantly acerbic as you. I lived in Hong Kong for five years, post-handover, from 1997-2002 ... among most people, Patten was loved. I always remember his brilliant response to Jonathan Dimbleby in The Last Governor documentary on BBC. Asked if there was a place for diplomacy, he said: "Of course there is a place for diplomacy. I have tried the diplomatic approach. But you know, there are people in the British Foreign Office who take 'cultural sensitivity' too far. There are some in the Foreign Office who, if China were to declare a policy of the slaughter of the first born, would say: 'Well, given our cultural differences that is not entirely unreasonable'" ... sounds like you would fit into that category!

Surely Ben Rogers takes his opposition to Traditional Tory and Sir Percy Craddock too far. As Samuel Johnson would say his invocation of slaughtered first born is an extravagant example. Sir Percy's attitude, moreover, was nothing to do with culture and everything to do with power. In an old style foreign office way, he calculated that we had the power not to stop but merely to irritate Peking. He feared that if by pro-democratic grandstanding we irritated Peking enough, it would take out its spleen on the people of Hong Kong. I have to say, it was merely by a fluke that the chain of events which Sir Percy apprehended did not come to pass.

Careful there Ben. Your metaphorically foam-flecked post conveys the image of one dangerously on the verge of an apoplectic fit.

One thing we used not to ‘do’ in the Tory Party was hysteria but, as Dave constantly tells us, we are changing.

Thank you for that valuable insight Gareth. Actually I had a suit out of Burton’s sale years ago and wore it to work for years. I did, however, remember to cut the labels off before venturing abroad.

Let's stop the exchanges getting personal here please!

Didn't you get thrown out of the Tory Party by IDS Traditional Tory? Have they let you back in now?

The comments to this entry are closed.



ConHome on Twitter

    follow me on Twitter

    Conservative blogs

    Today's public spending saving

    New on other blogs

    • Receive our daily email
      Enter your details below:

    • Tracker 2
    • Extreme Tracker