British Heritage
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John Bercow: A Public Address By The Right Honourable MP, 2019

A Resonating Voice in British Political Heritage.

John Simon Bercow, born on 19 January 1963, has significantly contributed to British heritage through his unique role in the nation's political landscape. His eloquence, strong character, and commitment to parliamentary procedures have marked his tenure in the House of Commons, particularly his decade-long service as Speaker. Despite controversies, Bercow’s influence and contributions to British politics are undeniable, and his legacy continues to resonate in the hallways of British power.

Early Political Journey

Bercow's political career began as a councillor in the London Borough of Lambeth, from 1986 to 1990, marking his first foray into public service. He endured two unsuccessful attempts to gain Parliamentary seats in the 1987 and 1992 general elections, but his determination paid off in 1997 when he was elected as the Member of Parliament for Buckingham.

Bercow's affiliations have evolved over the years. Starting as a member of the Conservative Party, he held posts under Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Howard in the Shadow Cabinet. However, he resigned in 2002 over a disagreement concerning his support for the Adoption and Children Act 2002. A year later, he returned, only to be dismissed from the Shadow Cabinet in 2004. His political views gradually shifted, sparking rumours of a potential defection to the Labour Party.

Tenure as Speaker of the House of Commons

The pinnacle of Bercow's political career was his service as Speaker of the House of Commons from 2009 to 2019. Following the resignation of Michael Martin, Bercow won the election to succeed him, thereby becoming the first MP since Selwyn Lloyd in 1971 to be elected Speaker without having been a Deputy Speaker. During his tenure, Bercow was obliged to leave the Conservative Party and maintain independence, a requirement of the Speaker's office.

Bercow was re-elected unopposed at the commencements of the Parliaments in 2010, 2015, and 2017, making him the first Speaker since the Second World War to have been elected four times and served alongside four Prime Ministers.

After the Speakership: A Continued Career in Academia

After resigning as Speaker in 2019 and not seeking re-election as MP for Buckingham, Bercow left Parliament. However, his journey didn't end there. He joined the Labour Party in 2021, though he was suspended in 2022 following a controversy.

Beyond politics, Bercow took on the mantle of academia. He served as Chancellor of the University of Bedfordshire in 2014 and the University of Essex from 2017 until 2021. In January 2020, he became a part-time professor of politics at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Controversies and Bercow's Legacy

Bercow’s career has not been without its controversies. In 2022, an independent Commons complaints body found Bercow to have persistently bullied staff over more than a decade. The Labour Party subsequently suspended him following the revelations.

Regardless of the controversies, the impact of Bercow's service to British political heritage is evident. His boisterous and eloquent speeches, his commitment to the procedural integrity of the House of Commons, and his dynamic political journey have left a lasting mark on the British political landscape. His tenure as Speaker was characterised by a unique and fervent commitment to his duties, shaping the way future Speakers will approach their roles. Despite his fall from grace, Bercow's significant contribution to British political heritage should not be overlooked. His story, marked by both triumphs and trials, is a testament to the vibrancy and complexity of British political life.

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The seeks to recognize individuals who have attained excellence and international renown in their chosen professional fields, and whose actions, in addition to their achievements, embody the character of the British people through commitment to British values, the British community and/or to Great Britain. Beyond demonstrated qualities of achievement and commitment, the serves to recognize the British Heritage contribution to the betterment of mankind.