As you might have gathered from the radio silence I have had a bit of a busy day. This afternoon I was the warm up act for Lord Currie, the Ofcom chairman, at a lecture he was giving to parliamentarians in the House of Commons. I gave a ten minute talk about blogging and how it would be rather uswise of the PCC and Ofcom to seek to regulate the internet. More on that later.
Despite being in the Commons most of the day I've only just been able to catch up with the furore over Prime Ministers Questions at lunchtime. For some reason I can't download it from the BBC so I can only go on the news reports, but the Speaker's behaviour does seem quite extraordinary. And it's not the first time. I'm told by Tory MP friends that he continually forgets to call the right people during Question Time and just hasn't been the same since he returned from illness some time ago. Several MPs were openly speculating this afternoon that the Speaker's equivalent of the Men in Grey Coats might well be encouraged to pay him a visit soon. If they do, I suspect they'd get short shrift.
But it would not surprise me at all if we had a new Speaker during this Parliament. Sir Alan Haselhurst impressed all sides of the House when he deputised for Michael Martin following his heart scare and he would be a very strong contender. Sir George Young is keen on the job too. In theory at least it is the Tories' turn, but many Labour supporters say that if Labour is in power there should be a Labour Speaker.
Click HERE to read an article I wrote in March on the likely runners and riders for the Speakership. The ensuing poll gave this result...
Ann Widdecombe 37%, Sir George Young 22%, Sir Patrick Cormack 15%, Sir Alan Haselhurst 12%, Derek Conway 8%, Sir Nicholas Winterton 6%, Sir Michael Lord 2%