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Delaying election re-run was not Bercow's decision

Michael Crick | 13:21 UK time, Wednesday, 10 November 2010

In my blog two days ago I said that it had been the decision of the Speaker of the Commons, John Bercow, to delay the re-run election in Oldham East and Saddleworth.

A very senior Commons source has pointed out that I was wrong on this. The calling of by-elections is not the Speaker's decision, but decided by the House of Commons itself.

And in the event on Monday all three main parties - Labour, Conservatives and Liberal Democrats - agreed that the election should be delayed pending Phil Woolas' efforts to appeal.

Mr Bercow did not even make a recommendation on the issue.

I wasn't the only journalist to make this error. Lots of others did too, including the Daily Telegraph which yesterday ran a leader item on Mr Bercow's non-decision, arguing that he had clearly been influenced by his wife.

UPDATE REPLYING TO COMMENT BY delarrn

Actually I made that very similar point about it being a re-run in my first blog on Monday, though everyone else keeps calling it a by-election and Woolas's service as an MP since May won't be expunged.

To correct you on two points: 1. the boundaries will stay the same. How could it be otherwise? And 2. The Commons DOES make the decision, not the Speaker. If you doubt me, ask his office.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Talk about honour amongst thieves.

    Woolas was caught bang to rights by a court of law. We have all read the transcripts as to what was said and can see that at the very best it was a highly abusive way of fighting a campaign. For those of use who can remember Smethwick in 1964 will recognise the same stench. If Woolas had any sense of decency he would accept the decision of the court.

    The fact that the entire House seems to support his appeal suggests that they have some sympathy for him. Disgraceful!

  • Comment number 2.

    I must correct you again Michael.

    As the constituency boundaries have been changed this isn't a by-election as there has been no previous legitimately elected MP.

    What will take place is in fact a re-run of the general election and it is the Speaker, not Parliament who calls for it.

  • Comment number 3.

    A very senior Commons source has pointed out that I was wrong on this.

    I wasn't the only journalist to make this error.


    That's OK then. Nice to find that while bloggers run wild, the MSM can be relied upon to ensure that the public is properly informed.

    If, perhaps too often, by 'sources' whose views may, or may not, be worth much. Evidentl.. er.. possibly

  • Comment number 4.

    #2 - delarrn

    "I must correct you again Michael"

    In order to correct Michael, you first need to be correct yourself.

    According to Parliament's own website:-

    'There has, as yet, been no motion brought to the House of Commons to move the writ for the seat of Oldham East and Saddleworth'.

    It is clearly a decision for the House.

    However, a correction is in order. Michael writes 'I wasn't the only journalist to make this error'. This is a case in mitigation, not a defense. That The Telegraph and others fell into the same error does not mean that an apology is not in order.

  • Comment number 5.

    "Talk about honour amongst thieves.

    Woolas was caught bang to rights by a court of law. We have all read the transcripts as to what was said and can see that at the very best it was a highly abusive way of fighting a campaign. For those of use who can remember Smethwick in 1964 will recognise the same stench. If Woolas had any sense of decency he would accept the decision of the court.

    The fact that the entire House seems to support his appeal suggests that they have some sympathy for him. Disgraceful!"

    Stanilic. You seem woefully ignorant of the legal system of this country. Yes there has been a judgement on some facts. A higher court may make a different decision. Until all legal avenues are exhausted the legal truth is not established. Until then it is safer to wait for a decision. If there is no change to the decision at higher courts or he cannot go any further then the current decision stands. It is right to wait till someone exhausts the legal process before proceding otherwise you might find that action has been taken against someone it should not have done which is wrong. Whatever your or my views about the judgement so far.

  • Comment number 6.

    did the friends of Tony, up to their ears in sleaze, 'accept the decision of the court' in the end they got a walkover, I hope the same happens to Woolas, it is all the cut and thrust of electoral politics....

  • Comment number 7.

    There are two separate issues here. The constituents continue to be unrepresented and that is a matter for parliament. The sooner the writ is moved, the better for the people concerned. However the question of legal niceties is not a question for parliament and neither should it be. The law is the law and must be allowed to run its course.

  • Comment number 8.

    Delarrn is wrong. There is no such thing as a 'general election rerun'. This is a byelection caused by a void election, just like Winchester in 1997, Oxford in 1924, Berwick-upon-Tweed in 1923 and many before that. It's triggered by a new writ being issued, not by the general election writ being sent back.

  • Comment number 9.

    UPDATE REPLYING TO COMMENT BY delarrn

    Novel. Replying, if in editorial, to a poster.

    Sign of future engagement around future debate, or a bit of a one-off when on more secure ground than usual?

  • Comment number 10.

    5 Flashing Blade

    I know all about the legal system in this country. If you can afford as many of `me learned friends' as possible you can buy the right decision in some higher court or another. However, I prefer to use the word `high' in the aromatic sense rather than the hierarchical.

    The courts are there only for the rich and the foolish.

    Where is the justice in that?

  • Comment number 11.

    Stanilic

    "The courts are there only for the rich and the foolish.

    Where is the justice in that? "

    So you repudiate the verdict in the electoral court then and think Phil Woolas should still be the MP in Oldham and Saddleworth?

    I don't think so. Therefore you think there is merit in the courts. You can no more pick and chose the judgement in the court that most fits your predjudice than anyoine else. There is a system. He has to exhaust the whole system, not just the bit you want him to go through. That's justice.

  • Comment number 12.

    '9. At 08:42am on 11 Nov 2010, you wrote:
    Sign of future engagement around future debate, or a bit of a one-off when on more secure ground than usual?


    Guessing... the latter, then.

  • Comment number 13.

    11 Flashing Blade

    My prejudice is that if you are caught bang to rights then you put your hands up and say `fair cop'. Just old-fashioned.

 

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