John Bercow

John Bercow

Infobox MP

honorific-prefix =
name = John Bercow
honorific-suffix = MP
caption =
constituency_MP = Buckingham
parliament =
term_start = 1 May 1997
term_end =
majority = 18,129 (37.5%)
predecessor = George Walden
successor =
birth_date = Birth date and age|1963|01|19|df=yes
birth_place = Edgware, London
death_date =
death_place =
nationality = British
spouse = Sally Illman
party = Conservative
relations =
children =
residence =
alma_mater = University of Essex
footnotes =

John Simon Bercow (born January 19 1963) is a politician and Conservative Party Member of Parliament for Buckingham in the United Kingdom with a current majority of 18,129 votes. He has a long-standing interest in Burma and has frequently raised issues of democracy and genocide in the country. In 2006 he was made a Patron of the Tory Reform Group. [ [ About People page] , Tory Reform Group]

Early life

The son of a Jewish taxi driver, Bercow attended Finchley Manorhill, a large North London comprehensive. As a teenager he was Britain's foremost male tennis prospect attaining the Number 1 British ranking before severe glandular fever effectively curtailed his playing career at a serious level.Fact|date=January 2008 He attended the University of Essex during the 1980s graduating with First Class Honours in Government. During this period, he became a controversial figure in student politics and was a member of the right wing Monday Club, becoming Secretary of its Immigration and Repatriation Committee. He eventually left the organisation, citing the extremism of many of the Monday Club's members as his reason. Fact|date=January 2008

After his graduation, he was appointed the National Chairman of the Federation of Conservative Students. He attracted the attention of the Conservative leadership and in 1987 was appointed by Norman Tebbit as Vice-Chairman of the Conservative Collegiate Forum, the successor of the FCS, to head the campaign for student support in the run-up to the 1987 General Election. After a spell in Merchant Banking, in 1988 he joined Rowland Sallingbury Casey becoming a board director within five years.

Councillor and Government Advisor

In 1986 he was elected as a Conservative councillor in the London Borough of Lambeth for four years. In 1987 he was appointed the youngest Deputy Group Leader in the United Kingdom. Before 1997 he was the unsuccessful Conservative candidate in two parliamentary elections, first in the 1987 General Election in Motherwell, secondly in the 1992 General Election in Bristol South.

In 1995 he was appointed as Special Adviser to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury Jonathan Aitken, and after Aitken's resignation to fight a libel action, Bercow served as a Special Adviser to the Secretary of State for National Heritage, Virginia Bottomley.

Parliamentary career

In the 1997 General Election he was elected the Member of Parliament for Buckingham with a majority of 12,386. Bercow shifted his politics, embracing social liberalism, at about the same time as his then colleague, Michael Portillo. In 2000 supported the successful attempt to reduce the gay age of consent to 16. He also supported the bar the following year on MPs becoming members of the Monday Club, an organisation of which he is a former member. [cite news |url= |title=Tory MPs resign from far-right club |author= |work=BBC News online |date=7 October 2001 |accessdate=2007-11-24]

Bercow rose quickly through the opposition's junior ranks before joining the Shadow Cabinet in 2001 under the then party leader Iain Duncan Smith. During his first spell on the front bench Bercow publicly confessed that his lack of ruthlessness would prevent him from rising any further through the ranks.

When the Government unveiled a Bill to allow unmarried gay and heterosexual couples to adopt children, Duncan Smith imposed a three-line whip on the issue rather than allowing a free vote. In protest, Bercow defied the whips and voted with the government arguing that it should be a free vote. He then resigned from the front bench. [cite news |url= |title=Tory resigns over adoption vote |author= |work=BBC News online |date=4 November 2002 |accessdate=2007-11-24] As a backbencher he was openly critical of the leadership declaring that IDS was about as likely to "meet an Eskimo in the desert" as he was to win the 2005 General Election. []

Return to the Front Bench

In 2003 the new Conservative Leader Michael Howard appointed Bercow the Shadow Secretary of State for International Development. In 2005, he won the Channel Four/Hansard Society Political Award for Opposition MP of the Year. With a colleague, he runs the Advanced Speaking and Campaigning course, which has trained over 600 Conservatives, including several current MPs. He has also lectured in the United States to students of the Leadership Institute.

Opposition MP of the year

On 8 February 2006, Bercow won the Channel Four/Hansard Society Political Award for Opposition MP of the Year for 2005. He said,

I shall treasure this award and I am extremely grateful to my colleagues for it. Winning it has raised the question of what is good opposition. I think that the public is fed up with one politician simply ranting at another politician for the sake of it. The public deserves to see a more measured and constructive approach to politics. In addition to pursuing a wide variety of local issues, I have attempted to question, probe and scrutinise the Government in the House of Commons on important national and international topics which concern people. Over the last 12 months, I have constantly pressed the case for reform of world trade rules to give the poorest people on the planet a chance to sell their products and improve their quality of life. The plight of the people of Darfur, Western Sudan, has also been a regular theme. They have suffered too much for too long with too little done about the situation. I shall go on arguing for Britain to take the lead in the international community in seeking decisive action for peace and justice. [cite news |url= |title=Opposition MP of the Year for 2005 |author= |work=Buckingham Conservative Association |date=8 February 2005 |accessdate=2007-11-24]

Personal life

Bercow married his Labour supporting wife Sally Illman in December 2002. They have two sons, Oliver born in December 2003 and Freddie born in November 2005. His constituency website states: "Outside of politics, John enjoys tennis, squash, swimming, reading and music, and he is a supporter of Arsenal F.C. He is a qualified lawn tennis coach."

Rumours of defection

Following the defection of Quentin Davies to the Labour Party on 26 June 2007, persistent Westminster rumours [cite news |url= |title=Bercow defection is expected at time of maximum embarrassment |author= | |date=14 July 2007 |accessdate=2007-11-24] placed him as the next most likely candidate for defection to the Labour Party. In September 2007, Gordon Brown announced that Bercow had accepted an advisory post on a government review of support for children with speech, language and communication needs. The Conservative Party chairman Caroline Spelman confirmed that this appointment was with the consent of the party. [cite news |url= |title=Mercer and Bercow to advise Brown |author= |work=BBC News online |date=3 September 2007 |accessdate=2007-11-24]

The Bercow Review

In 2008, John Bercow was asked by the Labour MPs Ed Balls and Alan Johnson to produce a substantial review of children and families affected by speech, language and communication needs (SLCN). After the report, the government pleged £52 million to raise the profile of SLCN within the education field.

It looks at the extreme consequences communication problems can lead to – from initial frustration at not being able to express oneself, to bullying or being bullied at school, fewer job prospects and even the descent into criminality. [ [] Retrieved on 24th Sep 2008]

The interim report highlighted a number of core issues: firstly, that Speech, language and communication are not only essential life skills but fundamental human rights [ [ ] Retrieved on 22nd Sep 2008] , early identification of problems and intervention are important to avoid social problems later on, and also, that the current system of treatment is patchy, i.e. there is a need for services to be continually provided for the children and families from an early age.


External links

* [ - John Bercow MP] official biography on the site of the Conservative Party
* [ They Work For You - John Bercow MP]
* [ The Public Whip - John Bercow MP] voting record
* [,_John/ Open Directory Project — John Bercow] directory category

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