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The BBC revealed yesterday that John Bercow has recruited former Times commentator Tim Hames as his special adviser and spokesman.
Mr Hames – who wrote an excellent Times column – will be paid at least £87,000.
The appointment has raised eyebrows because, says The Telegraph, "the House of Commons already employs a team of press officers and media advisers who work on behalf of the Speaker." A long-time critic of Mr Bercow, The Daily Mail's Quentin Letts is unimpressed:
"For 'special adviser' we might as easily read 'policy wonk cum spin doctor'. Why on earth does he need one? No previous Speaker has found it necessary formally to employ such a creature. Most recent occupants of Speaker's House, certainly up to and including Betty Boothroyd, strove to keep the Chair as free as possible from political controversy. They made do with a small handful of clerks led by a punctiliously courteous secretary. Speaker's House in the old days left one in no doubt as to its desire to remain unmottled by the controversies of the day."
At least as big a concern is the closed appointment process. Ben Brogan is on target with these words:
"I’m not sure the route to reform goes via appointing a chum without any apparent open process."