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John Bercow Tells Sky News: People 'Suspicious And Despairing' Of The Political System

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John Bercow claimed people were suspicious and despairing of the political system
John Bercow claimed people were suspicious and despairing of the political system

Commons Speaker John Bercow delivered a stinging verdict on the coalition in an interview for Sky News, suggesting that the reason why the local elections saw such a poor turnout was because people felt disillusioned as the parties are "quite similar" and there "isn't a huge choice".

In an interview for Sky News' Murnaghan programme he claimed many people are "suspicious or even despairing" about the political system.

The Speaker, who is expected to remain politically impartial at all times, said: "To some extent, (people) are suspicious or even despairing of formal politics as a means to give expression and effect to what they want.

"I think there is a wider dissatisfaction that people feel, partly that the parties are still quite similar and perhaps there isn't a huge choice, and partly they feel, well 'I said what I wanted, and I voted accordingly, but I haven't got what I wanted or what I voted for two years ago'."

Bercow also suggested that more MPs are seeking help for alcoholism as Parliament attempts to crack down on Westminster's drinking culture.

He suggested there may be politicians with "other addiction issues," insisting the House reflects wider society.

Last week it emerged Commons staff are to be told to top up MPs' glasses fewer times at Parliamentary receptions to encourage "responsible alcohol use".

The move comes in the wake of the fight in the Commons Strangers Bar that saw Eric Joyce attack fellow MPs.

Mr Bercow said there is no longer a heavy subsidy on alcohol served in Parliament's bars.

He said: "I think that there are a number of other factors. I think there are issues relating to members who have had too much to drink.

"I think it is important that the medical service in the House is aware as it can be of members with problems.

"There is some evidence now that more members and staff who have got drink-related issues are seeking help and that's a positive.

"I think we are a reflection of society and just as there are people in every walk of life who have got issues to do with alcohol, and possibly other addiction issues, there can be problems in this place."

Mr Bercow defended his much-criticised decision to bring back Prime Minister David Cameron to an urgent question in the Commons over Jeremy Hunt, insisting more information had come to light that needed addressing.

He admitted he is not "bosom pals" with Mr Cameron after being quizzed about pictures showing the Prime Minister scowling during his speech at the Queen's Jubilee address in Parliament's Westminster Hall.

The Speaker raised eyebrows by describing the monarch as a "Kaleidoscope Queen" during the historic event.

He said: "I have a good and constructive relationship with him. If you're asking are we bosom pals, no we're not, but we don't need to be, nor should we be."

He added: "I saw that he was caught in the camera shot - is that something that I've ever discussed with the Prime Minister? No it isn't ... Am I in any way bothered about or prickly over a thing like that, no not at all.

"I was trying to express what I thought was quite an important concept - namely that there has been dramatic change, in my view change for the better in this country which is vastly more diverse than ever before, and much of that change and increased diversity has taken place during the period that Queen Elizabeth has been our monarch."