By Matthew Barrett
Follow Matthew on Twitter
Last month we covered the findings of a survey which showed Speaker Bercow’s oft-repeated complaint (as shown in the video segment above) about “the public” not liking robust debate in the House of Commons, was unsupported by public opinion.
But a survey is only a survey, and the wording – “Robust exchanges in the House of Commons are an important part of our democracy” Agree/Disagree – was not perfect.
I have, however, a better test of “the public” view of Members’ rowdy behaviour in the Commons: How many members of the public have complained to the Speaker about such behaviour?
“So my FOI request asked how many pieces of communication (letter, phone call or email) the Speaker had recieved complaining about behaviour at PMQs. Go on, take a guess. Well the answer may surprise you. The Speakers office only hold communications for sixth months, but in the half year until 22 July there were… ready for it …36.”
36! It seems Mr Bercow’s hotline to public opinion is not as finely-tuned as his confident assertions would have you believe.