Thursday, June 11, 2009

Who's the 'Logical' Next Speaker?

Focus is now beginning to focus again on the race for the Speakership. Several new candidates (one or two of them rather surprising) have declared that they will stand. The declared runners and riders so far are...

Margaret Beckett
John Bercow
Sir Patrick Cormack
Sir Alan Haselhurst
Sir George Young
Parmjit Dhanda
Sir Alan Beith
Sir Michael Lord
Sir Menzies Campbell
Ann Widdecombe
Frank Field
Richard Shepherd

I tempted to add, Uncle Tom Cobley and all. I know politics isn't logical, but if you look at this race logically, we should automatically dismiss any candidate would couldn't command support across the House. The office of Speaker should command automatic respect, but several of the candidates would be so controversial that they would undermine it. So using this criteria, we should eject both Frank Field and John Bercow from the field.

Logic would also determine that if a reform agenda is to be carried through, MPs who are standing down at the next election are also not appropriate. I'm sad to say it, but that means goodbye Miss Widdecombe. So that leaves nine, six of whom are Knights of the Realm. Logic should also dictate that it's the Tories' turn, or at least the turn of the Opposition. So out go Ma Beckett and Parmjit Dhanda. Logic further tells me that Labour MPs in particular are unlikely to support a LibDem. They seem to hate the LibDems more than they hate Tories, especially as the more tribal ones blame the LibDems for the overthrow of Michael Martin. So, exit Sir Ming and Sir Alan.

Which leaves us with Richard Shepherd, Sir Patrick Cormack, Sir Alan Haselhurst, Sir Michael Lord and Sir George Young. I think Sir George Young would be an excellent Speaker but I just cannot believe that the House of Commons will stomach an Old Etonian Mayor of London, an Old Etionian PM and an Old Etonian Speaker. I'm not being Etonian-ist, but what would that say about our politics?

So logic tells me that the race is between Sir Patrick Cormack, Sir Alan Haselhurst and Richard Shepherd. But logic also tells me that Sir Patrick and Richard Shepherd may well fall by the wayside in the early votes.

So from all that you would deduce that I am tipping Sir Alan Haselhurst as the "logical" choice. That's as maybe, but as all know, logic actually plays little role in electoral reality. All of which goes to show that, frankly, the whole race is up for grabs. There are three sets of hustings next week organised by Channel 4, the House Magazine and the Hansard Society. I suspect they may be key events in helping MPs make up their minds.

The betting markets are still showing odds heavily in favour of John Bercow, although Margaret Beckett's surprising entry as second favourite might hurt his chances a bit. I have still yet to identify a single Tory MP, other than Julian Lewis, who is supporting Bercow. Labour MPs who support Bercow for reasons of mischief making would do well to think again. I repeat: the Speaker should command support across the whole House. Neither Bercow nor Field can do that.

Isn't it great that we have an election where absolutely no one can be even 50% certain of the result?

94 comments:

Rebel Saint said...

Why is Bercow even considered to be in the running when he has virtually no Conservative support?

Anonymous said...

I like Bercow a lot, but I agree with you that the Speaker must be supported by all sides. That's what annoys me about Labour MPs supporting him to get one over on the Tories. Labour MPs do seem particularly prone to that kind of childishness.

Anonymous said...

WE WANT WIDDY.

Simon Gardner said...

Bercow is my MP. We are used to not having a meaningful election in this constituency.

Robert said...

I hope there is a space on the ballot paper for 'none of the above'. None of the above would win by a mile.

Russell said...

Labour should be careful what they wish for. Bercow is in his forties and could be Speaker for a long, long time.

It needs a dignified, literate figure with long experience of the House. I'd go for Sir George Young.

Unsworth said...

Please God, not Beckett! After her completely disastrous Ministerial career it would be too much. That said, she was at Defra - maybe she's used to dealing with farmyards and animals.

In fact the question should really be which one of these is the least tainted.

The Half-Blood Welshman said...

Slightly strange post Iain. Were you trying to say who MPs should elect, or demonstrate that there is no logic in the likely choice?

As long as it's not Parmjit Dhanda who is not a great constituency MP and has always been resolutely in favour of the Labour leadership in everything they do, I don't really have a strong preference.

Botogol said...

the labour party seem to be doing a *lot* of things, recently, for reasons of mischief.

what a way to run a country.

Marthambles said...

You show every sign of being a generous-hearted logical person, so I cannot understand your bias against Etonians. After the passage of so many utterly incompetent (and under-educated) "Ministers" under Labour, I suggest that it would make a suitable change to have some well-educated people back in government (and in the Chair). A child can no more choose where his parents decide to have him or her educated than his sexuality. Would you be concerned if the only suitable candidates for Speaker all happened to be homosexual? Thought not ...

stuartbrucepr said...

I'd support Parmjit Dhanda as the youngest and with the shortest time in Parliament he is the closest we have to one that isn't tainted by tradition. We need a fresh start and hardly any of the names offer that.

Magic_2010 said...

"Why is Bercow even considered to be in the running when he has virtually no Conservative support?"

Who the Tories support is, sadly, irrelevant. Like Gorbals Mick, we are going to have another speaker elected principally on a socialist block vote.

Anonymous said...

"Old Etonian Mayor of London, an Old Etionian PM and an Old Etonian Speaker"

Old Etonian PM? getting a little ahead of ourselves aren't we. Let's not count our chickens just yet!

troymolloy said...

Point taken on the 'Eton' conundrum, but it's a pretty strange world we live in where grown men are judged unsuitable for a post on the basis of which secondary school they attended.

Simon said...

No one who voted in favour of keeping MP's expenses secret should be allowed to run. Neither should anyone who has been on the fiddle. That only leaves Richard Shepherd and Sir Patrick Cormack as far as I can work out.

That really does emphasise what a shabby crew they all are. How can you have anyone with a dubious past doing this job? Why not wait until after the election then at least there could be someone untainted elected.

violet said...

I am not normally a supporter of Patrick McCormack, but in this particular set of circumstances, I think he is the best choice.

He has a great knowledge of and respect for the House, he might be pompous but he is a gentleman, and he has promised to serve ONLY ONE TERM. I also think he could be trusted to be non-partisan.

(Oh, and Bercow does have some Tory supporters in the House, including some surprising ones, but they are keeping their powder dry, so can't give names).

Stronghold Barricades said...

Are we using AV as the secret voting system?

Jonathan Cook said...

I wouldn't write off Anne Widdecombe.

This government does not have a mandate to drive through major constitutional or electoral reform. Even if they did come up with sensible proposals the following count against them:

1. Proposals can be sunk if they have the merest whiff of favouring Labour prior to a General Election.

2. Failure to hold the Lisbon Treaty referendum will come back and haunt them.

Personally I think an interim speaker is a great idea. It gives a twofold opportunity:

1. Gives time for a new government with a mandate for change to be elected.

2. Ensures that we get a speaker in place who is suited to driving through the reform, rather than somebody just to fill a gap.

I think Ann will have an uphill task to win the vote - but logically she makes sense to me.

Anonymous said...

Should Labour MPs even be putting themselves forward?

Michael J said...

Iain,
You say you are not being Etonian-ist.
It says nothing about our politics to have Etonians everywhere.
I myself don't like the school much.
The important thing is that we get the best possible person as speaker or for any other job for that matter.

Watched Crow and Boris on ch 4 last night and it was so apparent that education is important if one wants to explain ones position. At least the Etonian was understood........

Browned off said...

If you want to see a return of the much-missed Speaker's wig, Beckett is the one who is most likely to bring it back.

Anonymous said...

'Logic should also dictate that it's the Tories' turn, or at least the turn of the Opposition.'

What has logic got to do with ZaNu Labour? Beckett will become the new Speaker. Labour has to have a supporter in the Chair to cover the executive.

Answer the question, Gordon? Don't be ridiculous.

'The leader of the Opposition cannot ask that question as it does not relate to Parliamentary business'

'As Speaker, I insist that the Leader of the House/Minister/Prime Minister comes to the House to make a statement to clarify their position'

Can you see Brown.. oh, sorry, Mandelson, allowing that to happen in the cradle of democracy?

Beckett. 100% guaranteed.

Philipa said...

Widde woman (bit like wonder woman but in sensible shoes and a nice jacket). She'd bring order to the world of politics.

Betty was brilliant, it obviously needs a womans touch.

wapping boy said...

With Dhanda and Beckett as candidates this contest is looking more like Celebrity Big Brother than a meaningful attempt to find a half-decent Speaker.

The new Speaker should be a LibDem. NuLab wrecked the convention by tribally choosing one of their own after Boothroyd, but the Tories should resist the urge to appoint one of their own in retaliation. To do so will simply entrench the new idea that the governing chooses one its own MPs as Speaker.

I'm hoping for Alan Beith - a respected veteran who's not too old to and not too young either.

Anonymous said...

"but what would that say about our politics?"

It would say that we've grown up to look beyond education that took place 40 years ago, and can now look at the man or woman most suited for the job.
I would expect your line of reasoning from the politics of class envy, a Labour specialty...

davidc said...

no chance of lady boothroyd dropping her title and coming back to the h of c ?

she could stand for the glasgow seat soon to be vacant.

Anonymous said...

Berco would be an utter disgrace. He is apygmy - in both senses of the word.

norman said...

I suspect it will be the dreadful Beckett who will win. She is looking forwards for a new caravan as part of the perks!

The Big Dollop said...

From a logical standpoint it would be a fair assessment to say that labour are going to get their just deserts come the time of the next general election – therefore I reckon that it matters not which ever candidate the conservatives may favour for the position of speaker – presently they just don’t have the numbers to prevent the labour party from
installing “one of their own” in order to cover their asses which are about to be handed to them on a plate in the new parliament after the next election.

Oldrightie said...

The logical Speaker would be someone chosen by the electorate! It would be guaranteed not to be Labour.

Faceless Bureaucrat said...

I've always believed that Sir Alan Haselhurst is the best bet - no learning curve to endure, respected and known by all Members and 'a clean pair of hands' as regards to MPs Expenses and any other contentious votes of the past.

If the House needs nothing else at the moment, it needs a period of calm, stability and above all respect emanating from the Speaker's Chair to get the ship of State back on an even keel.

Vote Haselhurst...

tealover said...

I disagree with you about Ann Widdecombe. She would make an excellent interim speaker to see the reforms through, because she would have no personal vested interest beyong the end of the parliament in any reforms she creates.

No-one can say that she isn't direct and honest: I think she would be able to command the respect of (and control!) the House, and also able to push through tough, transparent, common-sense reforms, yet sensitive to the idiosyncracies of parliament.

She'll have 11 months to do it and then we can get a new, clean, speaker for a new, clean parliament. Even if all the rough apples aren't turfed out or deselected (and I hope many of them are), the House should at least _appear_ to have fewer smoke filled rooms in the fees office etc.

Chas said...

Iain, you should fight against this nonsense about Etonians, not join in. As you and everyone else knows, Eton is one of the best schools in the country (not as good as my school, of course...) and therefore people who went there have a good start in life. If Johnson, Cameron and Young had all been mates at Scumbag Comprehensive they would be as illiterate, useless and unfit for office as most of the government, yet everyone would be nodding in agreement that it was a "good thing" that we had people from Scumbag Comprehensive running the country. I want intelligent, educated people in charge, not the utter cretins currently in power.

Alex said...

"Old Etonian Mayor of London, an Old Etionian PM and an Old Etonian Speaker"

Apart from the obvious error that we don't have an Etonian PM, what has this got to do with fitness fr high office. Shame on you for pandering to bigotry.

there was a time in the 1980's when the Home Secretary, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Defence Secretary, DG of the BBC, 25% of the High Court Judges and chairmen of 2 of the major banks were all alumni f a different school. i dn't eember anyone complaining that they were appointed other than on merit.

Anonymous said...

"logic actually plays little role in electoral reality"
....otherwise ZaNu Labour would have been voted out years ago.

iain said...

What an uninspiring bunch.
Someone tell Gordon Prentice to step forward.

VotR said...

Widdecombe gets my vote. She's got the personality out of the 'wimmin'. And it's only fair she gets chosen since a bloke had a turn after the last 'wimmin' speaker, Boothroyd.

Watching a boiler blow is much more fun than a horse neighing over the masses in the house.

pete_s said...

I like Richard Sheperd, a man of priciples. The down side is his voice which will grate quite a bit, but this will be more than compensated by his total dislike for Keith Vaz.

Scrof said...

Most of that lot should be ruled out instantly for troughing.

forfar-loon said...

Would be nice to see Alan Beith get the nod. He is easily up to the task and doesn't have the baggage of the other candidates. More reasoning at Brigadoon.

stereodog said...

I don't agree with your analysis that Labour would dislike a Lib Dem speaker more than a Tory one. Gordon Brown and the Scottish old Labour cadre that elected Michael Martin as speaker viscerally hate the Conservative on an instinctive basis and this will carry more weight than a short term tactical hatred of the Lib Dems. I was reading a family member's copy of The Mirror yesterday and it is hard to underestimate how much long term Labour supporters like Kevin Mcguire hate the Conservatives on a class basis. My own choice would be Sir Alan Beith for the reasons that Wapping Boy so eloquently expresses.

Anonymous said...

Shame on you, Mr Dale, for pandering to the ridiculous Brownite Laura-Spence-ist anti-excellence agenda. Eton is widely considered to be one of the best schools in the world. Half of China would like to send its sons there. Logically, there should be Eton-educated men in lots of high places. Just because they speak proper, they're not all "toffs" you know - if you think that you're several decades out of date.

Tom Harris said...

Iain, I agree that the next Speaker should be seen to have cross-party support. The problem is that this time it's a secret ballot, so whoever wins will be unable to prove they had such support. If Bercow wins, it won't be possible to prove lack of support from the Conservatives in the same way that it was possible to show that very few, if any, Tories supported Michael Martin.

StuartARe said...

As a constituent of Richard Shepherd, I am fully aware of the great work he has done, and his role on the House Modernisation Committee. After seeing his performance in helping bring down the previous Speaker, I feel he would be a firm but fair Speaker who could command respect from all sides of the House, and also lead it into what I think may be a period of some the largest reform of the system for some time. I feel his experience will come to his advantage and may not, as Iain states, lose him votes in the early stages.

Iain makes a very convincing argument to whittle down the other candidates, but for me I think that Shepherd could and should be the new Speaker.

talwin said...

It really is time that Beckett retired to spend more time with the fruits of her expenses.

James Higham said...

Does it matter whose steering the Titanic?

Anonymous said...

Is it true that Beckett is now second favourite behind Bercow? In God's name, why? A useless minister; a faceless and inept Foreign Secretary; a dinosaur of a discredited administration. What message would her election give to those farmers who suffered as a result of disasterous and incompetent administration of DEFRA?

If politics is to "cleaned up" (in Gordo's buzzphrase), then rewarding ministerial failure has to stop.

Not a sheep said...

That sort of logic doesn't come into this. Gordon Brown, Peter Mandelson and the rest of the Labour cabal that run this Country will do all that they can to win the next election and that includes ensuring they have a compliant Speaker.

How can Margaret Beckett even be considered as Speaker, she has served in Labour governments or shadow cabinets since the 1970s.

The nomination rules for Speaker mean that the Speaker must have support from other than their own party. Even the power hungry people at the top of the Labour party might wonder if they could have a third labour Speaker in a row, hence the candidacy of John Bercow. The odd thing about John Bercow is that he may in fact only have support from outside of his party, something that the rules makers did not anticipate.


I am on record as saying that the next Speaker should be an MP who is retiring at the next General Election; an interim appointment because the new House will differ so much from the old as so many MPs are retiring at the next election. The newly elected House should be able to elect a Speaker to represent them not be stuck with someone elected by a tainted Commons.

Inigo said...

Iain you're slightly off-mark when you say that it would say something about politics if there were OEs as PM, Mayor of London and Speaker of the Commons. You should instead ask what it says about Eton that successive generations still feel obliged to go into public service.

Thats News said...

John Bercow, as Labour love him.

But! I think they might like Mr Bercow then as much as they do, now.

I think he would be very different to Speaker Martin...

wv = tweaked! Hee hee!

Anonymous said...

Anyone but the ghastly and incompetent Beckett.

Gallimaufry said...

As the Labour benches lack to talent to fill all ministerial posts why doesn't the House of Commons not think outside the box and appoint someone of real talent as Speaker like Sir Terry Wogan? The British Constitution, being unwritten, is infinitely adaptable in order to cope with changed circumstances. Why should the next Speaker have to be an MP? If change works better, do it.

Conand said...

Ann Widdecombe is now saying she wouldn't just be a temporary Speaker.
Bad News for Helen Grant, The Conservative PPC in Widders' Constituency.
Bad News for Parliament, in treating Helen Grant like this Widders looks totally selfish. A selfish Speaker, great!! Just what Parliament needs.
Iain, I know you are mates wid Widd, but honestly!

golden_balls said...

why are the tories so afraid of bercow?

The same could be said with the labour party and Frank field but he's allowed his own dislike and his bitter feud with the pm to be made public.

I think its a little rich for the tories and liberals to complain about who labour votes for when it was they who got rid of speaker martin.

majority wins thats the game deal with it

jaybs said...

What a total farce it will be if Beckett is allowed to become Speaker and save her neck in what should be an unsafe constituency seat.

Anonymous said...

I can hear the Labour Whips already...

"Vote for Margaret Beckett. After all her hard years of minsterial service she deserves a plum post. And we wouldn't want her to lose at the next election, would we? And do you want a Tory Toff for your Speaker? And think of the burnishing of New Labour's equality credentials, that we have had 2 female Speakers. And any floaters voters who go caravaning might vote for us....."

Total stitch-up.

tory boys never grow up said...

And you really think that Alan Haselhurst has been a force for change while he has been Deputy Speaker and presumably had the ear of Michael Martin. I'm afraid he looks like an establishment yes man and will not be seen as the new broom and independent voice that the public are looking for, and for that reason I'd be amazed if MPs voted for him.

My guess is that MPs will vote for someone who sounds like a reformer and makes a lot of noise - but in practice will be prepared to compromise - not sure I'd rule out Margaret Becket who has made such behaviour into something of an artform over the years.

Anonymous said...

If parliament make a mistake in the selection of the new Speaker it will go very ill with the electorate indeed.

What impresses me about Sir George Young is that as a veteran he knows what what needs to be done, won't stay around long after he has done what needs to be done, and as he says, his first job as Speaker would be to clarify how to get rid of him.

Auntie Flo' said...

With great respect to Sir Alan, he cannot be speaker because he does not meet all of the following tests as well as one other candidate who shines like a star in the firmament of parliament:

Exemplary expenses claim record
Proven accounting skills & experience
Scrutiny & management skills
Reforming zeal
Independent minded
Regarded by the electorate and MPs as purer than pure
Scrupulously fair
Proven courage
Respected by all sides of the house
Proven disciplinary skills
Not an Etonian
An 'everyman or everywoman'
Transparent, accountable and consultative
Hard working
Capable of commanding respect in a rowdy HOC
Ethical and non-partisan

Only one MP, I believe, meets all of those tests:

Philip Hollobone.

Means Test ACA said...

If the Tories don't like Bercow so much, and think he's not loyal enough to the party, why don't they just take the whip away from him?

They liked him enough when he was running for election, and with an enviable 18K majority, I'm guessing he'll still be selected for the next one.

So stop whingeing about him.

Auntie Flo' said...

Philip Hollobone for Speaker!

£47,737 expenses
lowest expense claim of all MPs
Background in banking and economics
Territorial Army
Industry Research analyst
Voluntary teacher
Works his socks off
Does not employ staff
Chairs police-public liaison committee
Meals-on-wheels volunteer
Age Concern and WRVS
Councillor, Kettering Council.
Called for the speaker to resign
Hugely respected by public and MPs

Deputy Chair of Kettering Constituency Conservative Association since 2002.

Philip has organised and encouraged the establishment of new Conservative branches, undertaken surveys of the views of local residents, and helped lead local Conservatives to victory in local government elections as well as the last General Election.

The Conservative victory in Kettering Council elections - recapturing the Borough Council for the first time in 12 years - was one of the Conservative Party's best election successes in the whole country.

Kettering Constituency Association was awarded the Conservative Party's National Award for Excellence.

Further success in the Borough Elections in 2007 mean that there are now 28 Conservative Councillors on Kettering Borough Council

It's surely an advantage that Philip is not a father of the house figure as the Speaker's role needs a fresh, innovative approach.

Philip Hollobone for Speaker!

East Midlander said...

Faceless beat me to it, and has written my post for me. I watch Parliament most days and always find Sir Alan polite and gently showing the HE is in charge. He is well versed in the rules of the House and has a very dry sense of humour.

There for vote for Sir Alan.(Bercoe and or Becket, pass the sick bag Alice)

Means Test ACA said...

Hollobone's CV is impressive. . .

But wouldn't you rather have a man of that calibre ON the benches, and able to make strident speeches and criticisms, rather than being a glorified referee and manager of accountants?

Anonymous said...

The Hollobone fan club obviously did not see the BBC News last night re cash for questions.

Andrew Ian Dodge said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrew Ian Dodge said...

Logic in Parliament is hard to come by. The sensible choice would be Frank Field... so he probably has no chance. I bet the Labour types will try to put Bercow in just because he would annoy all the Conservatives.

Anonymous said...

Labour will want Sir Patrick - they know he will be a fair parliamentarian but he also looks and speaks like a an old-school Tory which they may think could damage the Cameroons. With this schadenfruede they will force to office a great speaker.

Sir Patrick knows parliament back to front as he has written on it. He has for years considered himself a parliamentarian above being a Tory. He is a Gentleman that commands respect and is always respectful (an example that needs setting to both sides of the house) and lastly he understands as he recently told me - 'Party's need each other to get it right'

Auntie Flo' said...

Anonymous 11/6 2009 1:49 PM said:

"The Hollobone fan club obviously did not see the BBC News last night re cash for questions."


Yes, I did. Thank you for reminding me of that

Philip Hollobone tabled written questions asking for details of the Government's plans for clean coal.

In October 2007 he asked the Scottish Secretary and Welsh Secretary 'what assessment he has made of the future for clean coal'.

Hollobone receives between £15,000 and £20,000 a year as a director of Nviro Cleantech, a company 'engaged in clean coal and other environmental technologies'.

He said it was such a 'general question' he did not feel it necessary to declare it to ministers.'

I entirely agree with Mr Hollobone, it's a trivial matter.

I view it as a positive advantage that Hollobone has made one trivial error during his parliamentary career, this makes his candidacy for Speaker even more compelling. We want the Speaker to be exemplary but also human, don't we?

I forgot to add to Hollobone's CV that he's a bell ringer for his church.

Hollobone for Speaker!

Islington Neil said...

Iain - you take each of the listed runners for speaker in turn and give reasons for their elimination from the field but somehow, unless I missed it, skip reasons for dropping Sir Michael Lord when you conclude in favour of Sir Alan Haselhurst...

Personally both sound old things who until recently would have a reasonable right to go for themtop job, but aren't they rather too close to the ancien regime to act as genuine and convincing reformers?

Macha Maguire said...

"Criteria" is a plural.

so you are either using 'this criterion' or 'these criteria'

Anonymous said...

Ann Widdecombe go for it girl

neil craig said...

Good job its an Alternative Vote rather than FPTP election isn't it?

But then whatever parliamentarians who get in on FPTP say about how wonderful that system is when it comes to elections where they are the electorate rather than the beneficiaries they always go for something else.

Jimmy said...

By convention the Speaker is obliged to vote with the government, which pretty much rules out Field.

Tom said...

As sympathetic as I was to your original point that we shouldn't have an interim Speaker, I have finally come to the conclusion that there is only one candidate on that list who has the necessary stature (not only with parliament but also with the general public) and, crucially, has completely avoided getting her neck into the expense scandal - and that's Ann Widdecombe. After the election we can have someone from the Labour side. (Isn't it funny how the Tories are so much better at choosing their Speakers...)

VOTE FOR WIDDY said...

Ann Widdecombe deserves the job as Speaker. The general public would welcome and trust her because she has proved herself to be decent, honest, fairminded, hard working, courageous, says what she thinks and has a sense of humour. England needs some genuinely nice kind honest decent trustworthy people in charge for a change. Widdy gets my vote (I'm not Tory).

Anonymous said...

Who's that deputy speaker..the oul lady with the grey hair. She's quite good.
Give the job to her.

Anonymous said...

Violet 10.06: Who is Patrick McCormack?

Jimmy 6.15: The Speaker by convention does not always vote with the Government. The Speaker's casting vote is determined in part by which stage the proceedings have reached which can result in the vote being cast against the Government.

Anonymous said...

Parmjit dhanda is just looking for some job security. A labour yes man, worried about losing his seat.

Ingrid Jones said...

On second thoughts, I regret posting anonymously. VOTE FOR WIDDY @7:07 PM was my comment. Here's another thought. Alan Johnson is popular because he is a good chap. We have too many bad eggs in the public eye. Appointing Widdy as Speaker would send an inspirational message to youngsters that plain speaking good eggs can get to the top.

Auntie Flo' said...

Jimmy said...

"By convention the Speaker is obliged to vote with the government, which pretty much rules out Field."

That means the Speaker must be Lib Dem until the new government forms after the general election: no one else would vote for Labour and we must return to the ethical convention of alternation. That way, we can have a Conservative Speaker after the election.

but why not widders? said...

Personally, I think you're underestimating the Labour MP here. The idea of a third Labour speaker on the trot(:o])won't bother them in the slightest if it gives the slightest edge over the next few months.
I'd go for the bloke I've never heard of with the funny name that I can't be bothered to cut & paste in. Ticks all the boxes. Loyal to the Party so won't make it awkward for the snotgobbler & there's the 'first ethnic speaker' crap that'll be good telly newsfodder. Shades of Obamarama & no-one'll dare suggest he's biased. The minority card'll outplay Gorbal's class card in trumps.
Beckett? Looks like a corpse in a frock. Bad enough on the benches behind. Having to look at her all day'd turn the stomach.*

*On which note who was the peroxide blonde bowling Broon an easy one at PMQs? Sure she used to work round the back of the Cross before the redevelopment. Stood in the shadows a lot. Specialised in the partially sighted.

Anonymous said...

Bercow has got my support as a Conservative. He is principled, stands up forn Parliament and independent minded - just what we want from the Speaker. We dont want a third Labour Speaker and I dont want another Toff like Sir George Young/Haslehurst/Cormack.

Go John.

Simon Too said...

The idea of a temporary Speaker seems wrong. However, one suggested reform is that in future the Speaker would be elected by secret ballot of MPs. If that reform is brought in, it would be quite proper for the then Speaker to stand down and for the next Speaker to be chosen by secret ballot.

If that happened, should the then outgoing Speaker stand for re-election? How would it affect the office of Speaker if the then Speaker stood for re-election but failed to be re-elected?

Simon Too said...

Cancel my last - I just re-read Tom Harris's post and realised the future has already arrived.

Anonymous said...

Definately Frank Field.

Dimoto said...

Wow, Iain, that piece of dialectic is worthy of Brezhnev at his peak !!

Reform of house procedures is far too important to be left to the speaker (Margaret Becket is obviously being put up to "steer" the Brownster's/Mandelson's would-be reforms).

Alan Beith would get my vote, we need a competent, workmanlike speaker - not any kind of showman or prima-donna.
The only (trivial) thing against Beith is that he's another bloody Scot ! As Sam Pepys/Sir W. Batten might have said: "By God, I think the devil shits Scotsmen !"

Dimoto said...

Oh, and Widdecombe (my MP) is a non-starter. Very rum old bird indeed, with her neo-Opus Dei ideology. She loves the sound of her own voice, and the speaker proportion of Commons time would sky-rocket - just what we don't need.
And that voice would empty the Commons faster than a speech by Simon Hughes.

Macha Maguire said...

Anne Widdecombe is bonkers.... this is the woman who left the Cof E because they were threatening to... gasp... ordinate women.

she's insane and has no grasp of the kinds of things that would be needed for true modernisation of Parliament.

her only possible asset is that she'd be there for less than a year. Is that good enough?

Ingrid Jones said...

Nasty disrespectful bullies such as Gordon Ramsay, Alan Sugar (who thinks it's OK to lie on ones CV), Gordon Brown (who thinks it's OK to destroy ones closest friends and colleagues) and the likes of the two cowardly anonymous commentators quoted here below are good examples of why Widdy is needed. Her voice would be an asset in the snakepit of Westminster.

At June 12, 2009 9:59 AM , Dimoto said...
Oh, and Widdecombe (my MP) is a very rum old bird indeed

At June 12, 2009 10:17 AM , Macha Maguire said...
Anne Widdecombe is bonkers....she's insane

Anonymous said...

I am a Conservative member and my first chioce would be Margaret Beckett, second choice Frank Field and third choice Anne Widdecombe until the next General Election. Last choice would be my own MP, John Bercow. But then I am making my choices in terms of what would be best for Parliament, democracy and the country. It seems that most MPs will not be using such criteria, instead making their selection on who would upset the opposition the most. It is unbelievable that the next Speaker could be selected on childish spite. It seems the current MPs continue to learn nothing from previous mistakes. Fool them, come the next election when half of them could lose their seats. The public will have the final say. MPs should bear this in mind when they make their selection.

Anonymous said...

Betty Boothroyd could control the chamber but was in other respects a reactionary Speaker as was Gearge Thomas. Weatherill was far more effective and less of a media Speaker. If we are to have a reforming Speaker then Richard Shepherd would be the best candidate as he has the respect of both sides and has never been afraid of the executive.

Stephen Gash said...

'Logical' being the operative word.

Anonymous said...

Faceless bureaucrat 10:43 - the only reason Alan Haselhurst has a clean pair of hands is that he paid someone else to do his garden!

Atticus Finch said...

Old Etonian PM, London Mayor and Speaker?

When was Alan Johnson at Eton?