Following the Deputy Speaker election today, tomorrow we move onto the election for Select Committee Chairmen. The Conservatives will chair 12 select committees, Labour 9 and the LibDems two. ConservativeHome has the full list of nominations HERE.
Furthermore, Tim Montgomerie and Will Straw have written a joint article endorsing four candidates. I have to say I think Tim has lost his marbles in endorsing Keith Vaz and Margaret Hodge. I'd rather stick needles in my eyes. Keith Vaz has been an appalling chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee and to suggest that Margaret Hodge would make a good chairman of the Public Accounts Committee almost defies belief. How anyone could suggest that this woman should have oversight of anything bearing in mind her past record is just incredible.
I'm not endorsing any candidates as I think it is somewhat grandiose to even think of doing so, but there is no doubt that there are some interesting competitions.
James Arbuthnot, the incumbent, and no doubt the choice of the whips, is facing some stiff competition. Both Douglas Carswell and Patrick Mercer could attract some solid support from the Labour benches, while Julian Lewis will get the votes of the Tory Right. Mercer would get the Committee a very strong media profile, while Carswell would put the fear of God into defence contractors and the MoD procurement department.
The conventional wisdom is that Stephen Dorrell, the former Health Secretary in the Major government will win by a country mile, but I wonder. He's seen very rarely in the Commons, hardly ever makes a speech and was a very mediocre Cabinet Minister. He holds 13 directorships and consultancies, which probably accounts for why he's rarely seen. The other three candidates are Sir Paul Beresford, a dentist by profession and a solid performer, Peter Bone, the right wing Wellingborough MP who is developing a high media profile, and last but not least, Nadine Dorries.
Nadine is basing her bid around her experience in the NHS. She would certainly give a much higher profile to the Committee, but will need to reassure MPs on both sides of the House that she will act as a team player. I understand she has written to MPs on this issue and reassured Labour MPs that she wouldn't let her views on abortion interfere with her ability to do the job. She has an impressive and cross party list of nominators.
Michael Fallon has secured the support of most of the members of the Treasury Committee but he is facing a very strong challenge from Andrew Tyrie, one of the Conservative Party's most original thinkers on economic and constitutional issues. Fallon has a fine track record on the Committee as John McFall's deputy for the last eight years and has shown just the right amount of independence of mind to convince many that he would make a very good Treasury Select Committee Chairman. He has shown himself to be fearless in tackling those who get stuff wrong - whether it's the Governor of the Bank of England, bank chiefs or the Chancellor.
Andrew Tyrie has the advantage of having worked in the Treasury for four years and as a senior economist at the EBRD. He's the current Spectator Backbencher of the Year and Fraser Nelson said of him "He’s got, perhaps, one of the best minds in the Party… Sometimes he is the conscience of his party (sometimes he is a thorn in its side) but when he stands up always he is a man worth listening to."
I'm relieved I don't have a vote as I would find it very difficult to choose between them. They are two absolutely outstanding candidates.
I wish I had time to go through the rest, but I'm afraid I don't.
What is clear is that the whole process of electing Select Committee Chairmen will have been a revelation, especially to new MPs. They've had to form opinions of their colleagues very quickly and it will be interesting to know if they have been persuaded to vote on 'slates' run by various groups within the parties.
The House of Commons has a full list of all Select Committee Nominations (up to the end of yesterday) together with their list of nominators. Nominations close tonight.