Sunday, June 21, 2009

Richard Shepherd should be the new Speaker

So who should be the new Speaker?

When Michael Martin became won the last contest, his election broke the unofficial compact that the Commons would alternate between Labour and Tory Speakers. The Labour front bench was happy to support Sir George Young, but there was a strong feeling on the back benches that a Labour House should have a Labour Speaker.

Three Labour Speakers in a row would be too much. That is not quite the same things as saying that it the Tories turn. I think Alan Beith would do a good job; certainly, he has the right ideas about reforming the Commons. But I cannot see him winning anything like enough support from the other parties.

If it does have to be a Tory, I know whom I am backing. John Bercow, in his eagerness to win the role, reminds me of no one so much as Michael Martin. That is not a good precedent. I also fear that he would interpret reconnecting the public with the Commons as meaning he should be on television all the time.

Anne Widdecombe would be better, but not a lot better. I sometimes wonder if she exists at all if there is not a journalist or camera in the room. And if she won we would have to go through the whole thing again after the next election.

The person I would back for Speaker is Richard Shepherd. He has an unimpeachable record on civil liberties and would be an instinctive supporter of backbenchers against the executive. He sometimes gives the impression of feeling things too deeply to be entirely coherent, but he would be my choice.$

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