I have just been listening to a short clip: “UK House of Commons Speaker John Bercow on his opposition to Trump addressing parliament UK House of Commons Speaker John Bercow on his opposition to Trump addressing parliament”. Unsurprisingly, for those who have followed Speaker Bercow over the years, he is vocal regarding his opposition to Trump, and also unsurprisingly, he is supported by many MPs, including Dennis Skinner, as well there being a minority who are opposed, indignant regarding his pronouncement. Also, I noted while going through my social media feed earlier, that most (but not all) who did comment have indicated their support for Bercow, demonstrating yet again how much Trumpism has divided people.
Bercow’s righteous indignation is around Trump’s racism and sexism and concerns around equality under the law and the independence of the judiciary. This has deepened following Trump’s immigration ban. All these merit discussion and I have in my earlier blogs offered my opinion on such matters. In a nutshell, while I reckon Trump is deeply flawed in many regards, I do not regard him as racist or sexist; I do not see where equality under the law comes into it; and while I note his recent criticism of judges who opposed him I do not see this going against judicial independence. As for the immigration ban, while I see flaws in the implementation and a lack of communication, as well as concerns around genuine refugees seeking asylum, I believe the ban was essentially justified as the President’s first duty is to protect the people he is elected to serve.
Bercow is right in certain aspects. For example, as Speaker he is there to speak on behalf of Parliament, including asserting its rights and independence, a principle I recall that was played out in 1629 when the Speaker excluded the King from entering Parliament, which eventually led to Civil War. Ironically, some of those who oppose Trump also opposed Brexit, a measure that would help restore Parliament sovereignty that had been lost to the EU. Bercow is also right to say whoever addresses Parliament needs to earn the right to do so (it is after all early days). But I find this ironic given this privilege had been granted to President Obama, who was not particularly pro British, whereas Trump is and from where I stand has done more harm to Anglo-American relationships than Trump.
I think if the issue were to be raised again, it has to be Parliament that must decide, and not the Speaker, whose views I have found to be typically biased. I accept though he was right to offer a view in response to a question raised by an MP, as long as he does not abuse his position by promoting the views of those he happens to agree with at the expense of those he doesn’t. If Parliament were to decide that they would not wish to invite Trump to address them, while regrettable, it would be a decision that I would reluctantly respect.