Daily Archives: June 22, 2009

Jim Pickard

Bercow wins by 322 to Young’s 271. Despite having been criticised as an objectionable “floater” by Quentin Letts – and thus proving the limits to press power. Read more >>

Jim Pickard

The final round will be between Bercow and Young, it has just been announced. Widdecombe has just been knocked out and Haselhurst, Beith and Beckett have dropped out.

The gap between the two has already started to close, with – in the second round – Bercow on 221 and Young on 174. [A larger increase for Young (62) than Bercow (42)Read more >>

Jim Pickard

Newsflash: John Bercow is ahead with 179 votes in the first round of the voting for the new Speaker.

This doesn’t mean he’s home and dry. Sir George Young picked up 112 votes, far ahead of Margaret Beckett at 74. Read more >>

Jim Pickard

How did they all do? Marks out of 10 are for the speech – not the chances of success:

(2.30pm)

Margaret Beckett: 5/10

Thin gruel from the Labour former minister and bookies’ favourite. Admits that public confidence in the Commons is lost and says she will “facilitate desired change”. Agrees that an independent financial regulator (for MPs) would be a good idea…but the “devil is in the detail”.

No-nonsense style. Says she has chaired lots of committees and bodies. “I have never been afraid to speak truth to power, wherever power been found. I have always been my own woman.” Points out that the Speaker has historically always been from the ruling party: Betty Boothroyd was the exception to the rule. A bit humourless.

Sir George Young: 8/10

Tory grandee points out that he has relevant experience as chair of the Standards and Privileges Committee. That proves his independence and strength of mind. Gives backbenchers reassurance by indicating that he won’t join the “bidding war to be tough” on MPs. Points out that many innocent members, “those who did no wrong”, were “caught in the backlash” of the expenses scandal. Has a good line comparing the financial crisis with the political crisis: both now need “recapitalisation”.

Says he wants to tilt power back from the executive to Parliament. Calls for: more “brisk” Parliamentary debates; cut back on pointless opposition day debates; call MPs by relevant experience rather than seniority; let chairs of select committees announce their reports in the chamber.

Ann Widdecombe: 6/10

A well-received speech, despite the unfortunate vocal delivery. Says she will only be an interim Speaker, retiring at the next general election. Her purpose would be to oversee rapid reform and restoring public faith in the Commons. Wouldn’t spend her whole time parading up and down in the country in TV studios, she assures the House. But admits in so many words that her main selling point is public popularity. Makes the serious point that legislation is not sufficiently scrutinised in the House. Read more >>

Jim Pickard

No one knows who will be the next Speaker of the House of Commons. Anyone who claims otherwise is deluded.

But that doesn’t mean the corridors of Parliament aren’t buzzing with speculation about the outcome of this afternoon’s vote.

All 10 candidates have made it through the first hurdle; that is, collecting a dozen names apiece to back them. Speeches begin at 2.30pm and will be followed by a series of votes. If the results are close the rounds could go on late into the evening. Read more >>

Jim Pickard

Some cynics seem to think that Britain joined the Iraq invasion primarily to maintain close ties with the US administration. Cherie Blair won’t have helped dissuade them in this interview in yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph:  Read more >>

Jim Pickard

Peter Davies is the newly-elected English Democrat mayor of Doncaster. This transcript was on a couple of blogs over the weekend but I couldn’t resist sharing it again……

Toby Foster (BBC Radio Sheffield): Thanks very much for joining us. I said that we didn’t see it coming – did you see it coming? Did you expect to win?

Peter Davies: Well, well not really. A great friend of mine told me the night before I was going to get a great shock, and that I would win. I was thinking of saving the deposit at the time.

TF: I can imagine. What was it you think that made people vote for you? Read more >>

Jim Pickard

The only Commons business today is the election of the new Speaker:

The backlash against Beckett as well as Bercow gathers pace Read more >>