Tuesday, 19 May 2009

The Speaker

I have a huge amount of work to get through this evening, so not much time to blog but in view of today's events, thought I should at least blog quickly on the Speaker's resignation.

Was first told the news by Sadie of Sadie's Tavern fame as I was racing on my way to PPS in a Westminster Hall debate. Went into a packed Chamber a bit later for his statement but before doing so I joined other (mostly) Labour colleagues in the Member's Lobby to applaud Michael Martin as the Speaker's Procession went by.

I accept that he made the right decision, that there was no way he could stay on. He's a thoroughly nice and decent man, but it's difficult to see how he could have steered the Commons through the rocky waters ahead. But even so.... I'm not someone who has much time for the pomp and ceremony of parliamentary tradition, but hounding a Speaker out of office in this way seems like the wrong way to go about things. Someone said to me on Twitter that politics was no place for the sensitive. No, but we should have some respect for the dignity of the office. And some respect for the man too.

Anyway, I've already nailed my colours to the mast regarding my support for John Bercow, and although he hasn't declared his name is certainly being talked about. Martin Salter is on Channel 4 News at the moment, saying that the next Speaker should be 'a fully-paid up member of the modernising tendency', 'dragging this gentlemen's club kicking and screaming into the 21st century' - which means Bercow. (A much changed creature since he stood against Dawn Primarolo in Bristol South many years ago.) The difficulty will be in finding Tories to support him! (They seem to be pushing Frank Field.... in which case they'd have the opposite problem!)

It's generally accepted we can't have another Labour candidate, given that the past two Speakers have been Labour MPs. Other names in the frame are Sir Alan Beith, Sir George Young, Richard Shepherd (my God!) and someone mentioned David Heath too, although I think it would be wrong to have anyone who is currently serving on the front bench, given that the Speaker should really be someone who can stand above party politics. David Davis has also been on Channel 4 saying 'this is going to be the most powerful Speaker in history' - 'the first Speaker who can actually bang people's heads together'. Yes, which means it's no job for a grandee.

As for the connection between this and the MPs' expenses row. Yes, it's a distraction but I think it was more a case of people (MPs/ media) scenting blood when the Speaker was wounded, rather than it being deliberately stoked up to distract attention from the Telegraph's revelations.


Anonymous said...

Martin should resign as an MP.

Then the all the parties and Parliament should at last do the right thing and let Elizabeth Filkin stand unopposed in his consituency and appoint her speaker.

This mess goes back years and the responsibility lies with you lot for getting rid of Filkin for doing her job properly and rattling the right cages.

Warnings you all studiously ignored .

Kerry said...

"Martin should resign as an MP". He will, there will be a by-election soon.

Bevanite said...

felt very sorry for him today. Hope bully boy tactics from Conservative benches don't set a precedent.

Jim Baxter said...

It had to happen. It's a rotten way for anyone who has ever had good intentions to end their career
but he appeared blinkered at a time when vision is needed more than ever and his recent actions only emphasised that impression.

I've always taken an interest in our politics in this country and had faith in the job that MPs do. I've always believed that most MPs are well-intentioned. The bloggers who habitually refer to 'the troughing 646' used to depress me. Now I think that they had it a clearer idea of the facts than I did, not about all the 646 but about enough to make me feel pretty naive. That's not pretty at my age.

I might take up stamp-collecting from now on and leave the lot of you to it.

Bristol Dave said...

I didn't feel sorry for him at all, and was surprised that he's lasted as long as he has.

He's pretty inarticulate for the speaker of the house of commons, wouldn't you say? Watching him read his statement was like seeing a primary school pupil struggle with Pride and Prejudice.

Pointer2null said...

It does seem that he's been made a scape goat, but thats politics for you.

As for who should be speaker now, I vote for Gyles Brandreth! It would make it much more lively and no one would dare to wear a wooly jumper in the chamber :D

View for the Penthouse said...

As someone who has never voted for the Tory party in my life (now 63) I wonder why it is that the leader of the Tory party seems to be ahead of Gorden Brown when dealing with Tory M.P.s whom have claimed for inappropriate things. is it that Gorden Brown has no back bone to face reaility. Also if M.Ps were not M.Ps would they not eat ? Why should any M.P. be able to claim for food ?
Away from the M.P. issue why do people who leave messages not use their own names - do they have something to hide as well as lots of M.Ps ?