Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Speaker election

Tomorrow sees the voting in the election for the Speaker of the House of Commons. Frankly so far I've found the whole thing about as riveting as a Liberal Democrat deputy leadership election.

Initially people hoped for a Speaker who could take a radical approach to shaking up the Commons' traditions. But how likely is that looking at the candidates?

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

By my reckoning that's two Deputy Speakers (Haselhurst & Lord), a former Leader of the House (Beckett), a former Shadow Leader (Young), two grandees of their party (Beith & Cormack) and another ex nodding head minister (Dhanda). The parliamentary establishment is well represented in this election but I doubt any of these will be radical enough for what is needed. That leaves just three mavericks who are likely to really shake things up. And that includes one who is standing down from the Commons at the election (Widdecombe).

Only Bercow and Shepherd offer real bold change for the long term, but Bercow is facing a hate campaign rarely seen in politics. Just look at the vile in Nadine Dorries: Bercow as Speaker - a Forgone Conclusion?, even going so far as to attack Bercow's wife.

As disgusting as the attacks are, and as stupid as Dorries's reasoning is, it is hard to escape the conclusion that a Bercow Speakership would prove too divisive for reform to happen. Instead there would be too many attempts by the bitter to depose him.

This leaves only one candidate who offers a realistic prospect of overhaul and that is Richard Shepherd.

So I doubt he will win the election.

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