Former Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow is to deliver this year’s Channel 4 Alternative Christmas Message. Bercow will deliver “a pro-democracy and pro-Parliament message of tolerance and respect” from a classroom at his children’s state secondary school.
Having stepped down in October from the bi-partisan role of Speaker and after ten years of chairing some of the fiercest and most fractious debates in recent political history. Bercow continues to be a champion for the role of Parliament. He candidly shares his view that “of late, democracy has come in for a pounding,” talking of how “it’s crucial for everyone to be free to say what they think and for politicians to respond” but stresses “democracy shouldn’t be about decibel levels.” Light-heartedly referencing the frequent need to raise his voice in his former role, He goes on to say, “an opinion is no more valid because it is expressed more loudly, repeatedly or abusively.”
In The Alternative Christmas Message, which will be broadcast on Christmas Day at 2.25pm on Channel 4, Bercow also shares his concerns over the role social media has come to play in our lives, particularly the impact on young people, commenting that while it can be “amazing” it can often “amplify hatred, racism, misogyny and abuse.”
Signing off with a hopeful, positive reflection on young people who he says are “the future” and a wish to “re-establish a civility of discourse,” he hopes everyone has a “happy, argument-free and fun-filled Christmas.” It remains to be seen whether his hope that “political difference, personal courtesy… in the Commons, in our workplaces and in our homes” do indeed become “our guiding lights in 2020.”
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