Tuesday, 19 May 2009

The next Speaker of the House of Commons

Now that Michael Martin has finally noticed that he is about as popular as his mate Gordon Brown and announced his resignation for just over a month's time, the race is on the be the new Speaker. What could be finer than luxurious Westminster apartments, a large entertainment budget and lots of foreign jaunts.

Already the just about Conservative MP, John Bercow, who seems to have spent much of the last few years buttering up Labour MPs, possibly for just this opportunity, looks like jumping into the fray and the BBC seem like they might look favourably upon him. He would meet the "fairness" doctrine of being a Conservative but so loosely that the Labour/BBC alliance could support him.

Other possible candidates include Sir Alan Haselhurst, one of the deputy Speakers, who the BBC carefully talk down in their "Speaker: Runners and riders". In fact the whole BBC list is a fine example of how the BBC try and set the agenda, so here it is with my comments:


Veteran Lib Dem MP, with more than 30 years experience. Former party leadership contender. Chairman of the constitutional affairs committee. Respected figure who was in the running for the job in 2000. Has told his local newspaper, the Newcastle Journal, he plans to stand again this time: "This is a crucial time for the House of Commons and if I have enough support across the parties, I am willing to take on the task of leading reform as Speaker. But it is a matter for the House to decide.""
Lib Dem and therefore preferable, in the BBC's mind, to a Tory


Conservative grandee and widely-respected chairman of the Standards and Privileges Committee. One of the bookmakers' favourites to land the job of Speaker after missing out in 2000. But Eton-educated background may count against him in the eyes of Labour MPs. Ladbrokes make him 8/1.
After all the "class war" accusations made by and on behalf of Michael Martin, the BBC have to try and start another one. I presume if the BBC can get it out there that having gone to Eton disbars one from becoming Speaker then maybe they could do the same for putative Prime Ministers. Is there a Labour equivalent of "Conservative Grandee"? There must be a phrase to describe the sort of long-serving Labour MP who is part of the Labour establishment...


Conservative MP and deputy speaker. Widely-respected figure who also served as deputy to former Speaker Betty Boothroyd. Another favourite at the bookmakers but being singled out by The Daily Telegraph for claiming £142,119 in second homes allowances since 2001, despite having no mortgage on the property, will not help his chances. Joint favourite at 4/1 with Frank Field, according to Ladbrokes.
"Widely-respected" at the moment but let's see if the BBC can change that with mention of his expenses.


Former Liberal Democrat leader. Respected for his integrity on all sides of the house and was one of the favourites to land the job last time. But chances may be hampered by criticism of his second home allowance claim.
A real BBC favourite and not a Tory... Odd how Alan Hazelhursts second home allowance figure is detailed but Sir Menzies' is just alluded to.


Maverick former Labour minister who sometimes seem more respected on Opposition side of the house - which may count against him if he decides to run. Led successful campaign to reverse 10p tax band cut. Has also led calls for wholesale reform of the Commons.
Nice choice of words here; "maverick" I presume because he did "think the unthinkable" and not back down. I also like the fact that the sucessful candidate must be acceptable to Labour which seems to mean be a loyal Labour MP, do the BBC understand the history of the Speaker's role?


Backbench Tory MP. Former right winger, who has moved towards the centre in recent years. Thought to have the backing of several Labour MPs for the Speaker's job but may not be popular enough with his own side to stand a realistic chance. Ladbrokes have him at 8/1.
"Moved towards the centre", surely moved right through the centre and heading left. No mention of Jhn Bercow's expenses, why?


Veteran Tory backbencher who was in the running for the job last time. Chairman of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee. Expert on constitutional affairs but may be seen as too much of a traditionalist to lead changes demanded by most MPs.
I wouldn't disagree but again a Conservative MP with negative points.


Former Labour minister and diarist, with an independent-minded streak. Standing down at the next election but has been talked of as a possible interim candidate for Speaker, who might gain the necessary cross-party support.
An interesting choice, again positively spoken of as he is a Labour MP.


Widely-respected chairman of the public administration committee, who has led a number of investigations into the conduct of MPs and civil servants. Has been talked of by some as a possible contender from the Labour benches.
More positive coverage of a Labour candidate.


Well-known figure with the public who would also be respected on all sides of the house. May wish to stick with the Lib Dem Treasury brief with which he has made his name.
The BBC's favourite economics expert, often the only opposition MP allowed to voice his opinions on the BBC. The BBC would be loathe to lose him as then they might have to interview a Tory.


Labour MP and deputy speaker. Sister of Labour MP Ann Keen, who organised Michael Martin's successful campaign for the Speakership in 2000.
No mention of Ann Keen's troughing exploits?


Independent-minded veteran Tory MP, first elected in 1979. Has led criticism of Speaker Martin. Stood unsuccessfully for the Speakership in October 2000. Ladbrokes makes him 14/1.
I think the BBC are unsure about this one as this one is in note form, maybe still waiting for No 10's steer.


The former shadow home secretary is one of Parliament's best-known and most respected figures. Has said she is definitely standing down at the next general election and appeared to pour cold water on the idea of doing the Speaker's job on an interim basis in a BBC interview, after allies on the Tory benches talked up her chances of landing it.
The BBC don't agree with much of Ann Widecombe's views and would hate to see her as Speaker, hence the talking down of the chances of her standing as an interim candidate. Of course an interim candidate is the Labour/BBC's nightmare scenario as that means that the new Parliament, a Parliament likely to have a large Conservative majority, might elect as Speaker someone who the opposition benches might think unsuitable, rather as the 1997 Labour Party did. This is not how the Speaker should be elected but by deviating from the convention of alternating Speakers (in 1997) the Labour party have likely brought this into happening.

1 comment:

Simon Icke said...

The only MPs who should be considered for the Speaker vacancy, should be those who can demonstrate an absolutely clean record on their expense claims over the years they have been an MP. The new Speaker must have the utmost integrity and command the full respect from all fellow MPs in the House whatever their politics. They should also be a person of humility, calm, not self seeking, nor ambitious for personal power and gain and who won't have biased or unbalanced views, when topics are debated, they must be completely even handed. The MP who springs to mind who meets all of these qualities is Iain Duncan Smith who has claimed next to nothing in the last four years for second home or hotel expenses. He has the utmost integrity and of excellent good character and who is respected by all.

His detailed report on 'Breakdown Britain' proved the excellent work he is capable of and that he sincerely has the welfare of the nation at heart. He is in politics for what he can give not what he can take. (unlike so many others in the present Parliament who seem to be out from what they can get).

He is a man of humility with a clear speaking voice and also a good listener. He is the one who should be encouraged to stand and given full support across party lines from the whole House. He is the man to sort out this terrible mess and restore the publics confidence in Parliament and in the important office of Speaker of the House.

He even showed great composure and dignity when he was forced to stand down as opposition leader, despite the fact he was stabbed in the back by people, in his own party, who showed themselves to have no loyalty and no decency in the way they publicly undermined a very decent person. A lesser person would of crumbled and later been full of vengeful bitterness. But not IDS he just carried on in his calm dignified way even though he must of been hurting inside. In my book he is an honest professional. He is a man of true honour.,a very rare find indeed these days.