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In two separate articles the two Conservative MPs who recently agreed to undertake advisory roles for Gordon Brown have explained their decisions.

In an article for the Yorkshire Post (not yet online), Mr Mercer says that the Prime Minister’s decision to appoint Lord West as "directly responsible for the anti-terrorism elements of our security" was a confirmation of his long-held belief that some higher recognition of security was needed within the apparatus of government.  Mr Mercer first became Tory spokesman for homeland security under Iain Duncan Smith and pursued the former Tory leader’s belief that ministerial responsibility for homeland security should carry Cabinet rank.  Mr Mercer also uses his article to say that "much of the policy beginning to emerge from the new Minister’s office reflects many of the ideas and concepts in which I have been involved from the Opposition benches."

Mr Mercer will be responsible for "a project that looks at the safety of crowded
places (clubs, shopping malls etc) and tries to design out the threat
of terrorism as far as that is possible."

Previously critical of Labour’s performance on homeland security, Mr Mercer hopes that counter-terrorism policy can become a cross-party affair.  He cites the consensual approach to Northern Ireland and in the World Wars as precedents:

"Go back a couple of decades and we can all remember how the
difficulties in Northern Ireland were faced and then controlled by the
parties working hand in hand with one another. Go back even further and
it is clear that coalition governments had to be formed in the two
world wars. Had we failed to do so, and had we allowed the venal
interests of day to day politics to intervene, then I suspect that the
results might have been very different."

He now writes: "I hope that the parties can work together on an even and sensible keel
and that we do not become distracted by squabbling over this
all-important subject. I shall certainly contribute as much as I can."

BercowclippingMr Bercow explained his controversial decision in yesterday’s Sunday Times.

The Tory MP for Buckingham describes his own good fortune in getting his own son into a school where his verbal dyspraxia was diagnosed and acted upon.

Other children with speech and language impairments are much less fortunate, he said, and he now has an opportunity to address this inequality of service provision for the parents of the approximately 1 in 10 children with SLIs.

Both men said that they consulted the whips before their moves.

Editor’s comment: "It is a great shame that these two men found it necessary to take up these positions within the Labour machine.  Both are hugely talented and ways should have been found for their abilities to be harnessed by the parliamentary Conservative Party.  Our own whips office must take a large share of responsibility for this disappointing state of affairs.  The office is pretty much run in the same way as in the 1950s.  MPs are threatened with sticks and enticed with carrots.  There is little of the career development of today’s workplaces.  All MPs should be enabled to play roles in the Tory machine.  Every talent harnessed.  Every aptitude developed.  There needs to be more integration of MPs with CCHQ.  More MPs need to be involved in developing the party’s relations with third party groups.  Many long-standing MPs have no wish to be involved in a significant ways but many newer MPs feel under-used.  As soon as Patrick Mercer lost his job last year he should have been able to see a path back to the frontbench or a way of serving the leadership in another way.  John Bercow’s interests in education or in global human rights should have been utilised.  I hope lessons have been learnt."

17 comments for: Mercer and Bercow explain their reasons for joining Brown’s big tent

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