Who says politics is not the domain of the crackpots and the unprincipled?
A Conservative minister who once called the Speaker of the House of Commons a ‘stupid, sanctimonious dwarf’ has announced that he wants to be his deputy. To start with, what a rocky foundation in which to build a serious working relationship. But such things are common in politics where enemies become so-called friends when expediency calls and previous bickerings turn into amiability for the very same reason.
Simon Burns is stepping down after three years as a minister to attempt to become Deputy Speaker. He will run against Nadine Dorries, the rebellious Tory MP who took part in I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! and whose relationship with the Tory hierarchy has suffered major reversals ever since.
Mr Burns has made no secret of his loathing for John Bercow, the Speaker, and was one of the few MPs to refuse to shake his hand when he took the Oath.
In June 2010, Mr Burns was reprimanded by the Speaker after turning to answer a question from a Liberal Democrat MP. When several Labour MPs shouted that they could not hear, Mr Bercow said: ‘I have just had members complaining that they can’t hear. You must face the House – it’s a very simple point, I have made it to others and they have understood it.’ Mr Burns retorted by mouthing the words ‘stupid, sanctimonious dwarf’ to Mr Bercow who is five foot six inches. He was later forced to make an unreserved apology.
Mr Burns was widely expected to be one of the losers in the forthcoming government reshuffle. He was the target of ridicule as railway minister, for using a chauffeur-driven car to travel the thirty-five miles from his home in Essex to London, rather than travelling by train. Use of the car cost £80,000 a year. He later recanted and joined rail commuters in order to limit the damage to his reputation, but was caught taking a government limousine to work again in July.
However, his decision to stand as Deputy Speaker will be welcomed by Tory MPs who have clashed repeatedly with Mr Bercow in the Commons. Nigel Evans resigned from the role, charged with sex-offences against seven men.
David Cameron welcomed Mr Burns’ decision to run, and thanked him for the loyalty and support he has always given him and to the party.
Ms Dorries said: ‘I’m going to stand. I have a proven track record of achievement in Parliament.’
There are two other candidates for the post. The vote, which will be open to all MPs, is likely to take place in ten days’ time.
There you have it. Politics and Politicians are a breed of their own. They operate solely to gain power and spend a great deal of their time trying to maintain it. Principles are for the faint-hearted and unless you do away with them, you risk failure on a grand scale. For in today’s complex world where money is the new divinity, the means matter less as the outcome matters most.