No matter what one thinks of Speaker Martin's abilities as Speaker (not a lot, in my case, as it happens), I'm sure we all wish him a speedy recovery from his heart problems. However, it does raise the question of whether he will see this Parliament out and if he might resign part way through, as Betty Boothroyd did. If he did, let's have a bit of fun and speculate as to who would succeed him. Normally the Speakership alternates between the two main Parties, but as Labour broke that centuries old tradition when they voted en bloc for Gorbals Mick I would have thought that it wasalmost inconceivable that the next Speaker would not be a Conservative. Last time Ming Campbell and Alan Beith stood, but it seems unlikely that either of them would put their names forward next time. Sir Alan Haselhurst, Michael Lord & Sir George Young both stood last time, as did Sir Nicholas Winterton. I would expect Sir Patrick Cormack to throw his considerable hat into the ring. Derek Conway is a senior member of the Speaker's Panel and would add some colour to the role, and although Ann Widdecombe has announced she will retire at the next election, if she thought she could win, she might have a punt. I can't really see
who else on the Tory benches might fancy their chances, but do enlighten me if know different. It's a shame Gwyneth Dunwoody is persona non grata with the government as I think she would actually make rather a fine Speaker, but I think that would happen over the Cabinet's collective dead body. Now there's a wicked thought. So, dear readers, if a vacancy arose this year, who would you vote for? I'm restricting it to Tories to avoid all the LibDem and Labour supporters all voting for their own candidate! Vote in the box at the top of the left hand column of the page. Voting will remain open for 5 days.