Thursday, 18 June 2009

Why John Bercow should be the Commons speaker

The vitriol being heaped on Conservative MP John Bercow in his bid to become Commons Speaker would be enough to win my vote (if I had one). But there is another good reason to vote for him: with the possible exception of Parmjit Dhanda, the amiable Gloucester MP who doesn't seem to be among the frontrunners, he is the only candidate for the Speakership who is proposing serious modernisation of the institution and its attitudes.

Obviously, like his many Labour supporters, I hold no brief for Mr Bercow's past in the Monday Club or the Federation of Conservative Students. But he has changed, just as Margaret Beckett has abadoned her early eighties Bennism. And the issue should be: what will he do as Speaker in 2009 and beyond? As today's New Statesman puts it
The backbencher, who in 2002 told his own party it was “racist, sexist, homophobic and anti-youth”, has proved himself the most independent-minded of all the ten candidates.
Margaret Beckett has been a loyal cabinet minister, though it is hard to recall anything innovative that happened on her watch. Most recently, she sidelined radical reform of housing policy. She was always seen as a safe pair of hands on the Today programme, and that is why she is gaining support in the Commons, including from many Conservatives who see Bercow as too liberal. She should have been made Minister for the Today Programme again. But this should not be her consolation prize for not getting the appointment.

But if MPs can't see after the last six weeks that they need a fresh face and a fresh approach, then they have only themselves to blame if they sink further in the court of public opinion. Indeed, the distasteful Tory campaign against Bercow shows politics at its absolute worst - and is a timely warning of what the Tories may be like in power again. As Steve Richards put it:
Instead of scheming pointlessly MPs should ask a single question. Which of the candidates will speak up most effectively and personify change for the Commons at a point when Britain's anti-politics culture is rabid?
A few weeks ago, I argued that we needed either Frank Field or John Bercow as speaker. Since Frank Field has chosen not to stand, John Bercow it must be.


Simon said...

What will this Government’s legacy be? Will they burst the ball because they are losing the match? Have they learnt anything from the last few scandalous weeks? The next speaker must be ‘whiter than white’ in their expense claims record and have the trust of all MPs and the general public; which suggest Anne Widdicombe may come up on the rails with a storming finish to win by half a length over Sir George Young in second and Margaret Beckett a further length behind in third. Pulled up over late expenses query John Bercow and the pure bloodstock Frank Field was a non runner(He may run in ten months time due to public demand).

Simon said...

Breaking News:

Mail on Sunday Conservative MP Nadine Dorries...'Bercow is an oily opportunist, lacking loyalty,courage and I speak as a tory'.

In my opinion she is a very courageous woman for writing what I and many other conservatives believe to be the truth.