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Speaker hustings

Nick Robinson | 11:48 UK time, Wednesday, 17 June 2009

I've just attended the hustings for the new Commons Speaker to be elected next Monday.

At the start of the meeting, there were more candidates than MPs who'd come to listen and - though I didn't count - probably more reporters too.

When the room filled up (only a little), the couple of dozen MPs who attended would have enjoyed:

• Ann Widdecombe declaring that it was not time for a "trusty old senator" but for a tribune;

• the bookies' favourite John Bercow warning that ministers are like "a driver going at 100mph with no brakes" and that Parliament needed to control them;

• and what caught my eye: Margaret Beckett, making a new argument instead of parroting the fashionable one.

The next House of Commons might, Mrs Beckett said, have to construct a new relationship with a reformed House of Lords and might have a minority government with a significant number of MPs from minority parties.

She said that she'd seen a previous Speaker, Selwyn Lloyd, deal with a similar situation and that she could do it. I came away thinking she just might.

That is certainly the wish of a growing number of Tories who loathe their own man Bercow - indeed one remarked that he was a vain man who would read the weather forecast as if he was Henry V at Agincourt.

When I asked one leading Tory who he'd be backing, he pinched his nose, looked pained and remarked "It'll have to be Ma Beckett".

Update, 18 June: Sorry to Ann Widdecombe: yesterday, I misheard and therefore misquoted her as saying she wished to be "queen" in comparison to "trusty old senators". She in fact said - as the metaphor should have made me realise - that she wanted to be tribune.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    There is an interesting new take on the speaker hustings on this blog, also referenced on Iain Dale and the Guardian:-

    http://moralorder.mediumisthemess.com/blog

    Scroll down to "Don't Bottle It." Tuesday 16 June

  • Comment number 2.

    Surely the question of the next Speaker can first of all rule out any Labour M.Ps. or Labour supporters, we have had the public favourite, M/s Boothroyd, and the forgetable current incumbant.

    Therefore we need, as do both Chambers, an impartial Speaker, someone with strength of character and complete lack of partisanship. Come on Mr. Robinson, this where your experience and knowledge should help all concerned and suggest a likely candidate.

  • Comment number 3.

    Nick,

    I'm surprised by the apparent level of apathy and indifference implied by your report on this.

    Am I reading it correctly ?

  • Comment number 4.

    Surely folks will not vote yet another 'sleezy' labour speaker

    We need law that spaker cannot be from major party - so there is no possibility of the gov/exec controlling this post....

    will whips and labour majority decide speaker - they should all abstain... so the will of parliament, not the gov is seen

    grrrrrr

  • Comment number 5.

    time for a

    Virgin Speaker i presume

  • Comment number 6.

    Beckett would make it 3 labour speakers in a row; nobody wants that, not even labour MPs let alone tories.

    Are you seriously saying, Nick, that the tories are all pushing for a labour speaker just because they think that one of the tory candidates is a bit vain? Your pro-labour spin is breathtakingly blatant.

    So your new attack on the tories is "the tories don't like the tories" - is this your labour election campaign along similar lines to brown's "no cuts; we'll simply expand debt forever and exponentially" lies?

  • Comment number 7.

    Come on Nick - call for an referendum and an election - we are governed by those without mandate and no accountability or ethics - we want to live in a democracy!!

  • Comment number 8.

    It is unfortunate that the Speaker is being replaced before the General Election.

    I wouldn't trust this current House of Commons to change a light bulb.

  • Comment number 9.

    After seeing Margaret Beckett performance on Question Time during expenses-gate, I don't believe Margaret Beckett is the right person to be the next speaker. If Margaret Beckett is elected as the new speaker I think media will put alot of pressure on Beckett's expenses claims.

    I think it's just ashame that when the Parliament needs to rebuild and improve public opinions, they decide to play party parties instead of electing the right person to be the new speaker.

  • Comment number 10.

    Margaret Becket? Wasn't her nickname at 'Agriculture' Rosa Klebb?
    To any MPs who may be reading this:
    Deep breaths and eyes down for a swillfest!

  • Comment number 11.

    Nick,

    All the candidates are inadequate - simply because they are all MP's already.

    The public don't give a monkeys who wins this election because they know deep down it won't change a thing (even those in denial).

    We will end up with a hypocrite regardless - they all just clapped the last speaker out (after stabbing him in the back) with gushings of congratulatory messages and what a great job he did.

    What a crock - these snakes will shake your hand whilst removing all your rings. A couple of weeks ago this man was supposedly at fault for all their expenses claims - today he's a 'great man'.

    These people are completely moral-less, I've never seen anything as dispicable in my life. Burning has to be the way forward to remove this infestation of rats in parliment.

  • Comment number 12.

    Thanks for this Nick. It is a really entertaining read. There have been some really memorable speakers in the past and Selwyn Lloyd was one of them. It will be interesting to see who the House of Commons elect and also encouraging to see that at least one of the candidates for the post is looking at political history to gauge what is needed for the position now. Let's hope (perhaps in vain) for a new order. With plenty of time to canvass for the next election, there may well be more minority parties represented in parliament. Less dominance of the two main parties, plus some new faces with new agendas could bring about the kind of reform that is needed.

  • Comment number 13.

    Looks like the MP's have already made their mind up about who to vote for in their usual partisan fashion.
    One key thing tho, whoever they choose it had better not be an MP with a small majority! Convention has it that, whoever the Speaker is the other parties do not put up a challenger in an election.
    That would just be a way of keeping someone who the people don't like in Parliament.

  • Comment number 14.

    Whoever is elected should have to present him/herself for re-election at the start of the nex Parliament. Apart from anything else that would keep the person concerned on their toes.

  • Comment number 15.

    Beckett is too tainted with Labour "sofa politics" and basically sleaze. Too many favours may be owed.

    What about the young Asian Labour candidate - a new representative face and I liked his talk of plain speaking and reform.

    The peoples candidate.

    Meanwhile I guess the MPs are all trying to find McBride so he can give evidence of the smear campaign to the House of Commons committee.

    Sometimes fantasy keeps you going for a while.

  • Comment number 16.

    does it have to be a sitting member? why cant they vote for someone from outside of Westminster...perhaps a retired diplomat...or an ex MP with gravitas, Douglas Hurd springs to mind...

  • Comment number 17.

    Shock news: Nick easily convinced by Labour MP's spiel!

    As to the fact that John Bercow has detractors on his own side I find it highly unlikely that the same wouldn't also apply to the likes of Margaret Beckett and Anne Widdecombe - both MP's who divide opinion.

    I should be surprised, but I'm not, that you feel it appropriate that the next speaker should be the 3rd in a row from the ruling party.

  • Comment number 18.

    Had these been normal times then Frank Field would have been the ideal new Speaker.

    However it seems apparent that the next twelve months is going to see one of the dirtiest and loathesome election periods we have ever seen so I think a strong no nonmsense tried and tested politician should take over where Betty left off. Ann Widdicome in fact.

  • Comment number 19.

    Nick,
    If I read this correctly you seem to have 'annointed' Margaret Beckett. So that's who Brown wants, is it?

  • Comment number 20.

    Nick, can you please explain why you think Brown's lies at PMQs will trump Cameron's honesty? You explicitly said Brown's label of "Mr 10%" is working.

    Where is your evidence for this, considering recent opinion polls? Andrew Neill had to rebuke you for saying it.

    Facts, please, not Labour propaganda.

  • Comment number 21.

    It should be a senior political figure, Bercow entered the House in '97. Not enough gravitas, whatever that means.

    It should also be someone untainted by the expenses scandal. Makes for a very short shortlist.

  • Comment number 22.

    Margaret Beckett has fallen foul of some members of her own party for her stance on The Palestine/Israel conflict and with The Opposition for claiming far too early that there was an upturn in the housing market. If you add to that to her involvement in The MP's Expenses issue and her woeful appearance on BBC Question Time plus the fact that 3 Labour Speakers in a row will not be tolerated then I think you can safely rule her out. If she is your horse Nick I wouldn't put any money on her ultimate success.

  • Comment number 23.

    Nick, I see TB wants to be president of Europe - so I want to suggest that we make Tony Bliar the president of the EU and then we have a referendum to leave the EU. Having TB as president will teach them a good lesson for taking British money for the last several years.

  • Comment number 24.

    Isn't the fact that so few MPs attended the hustings a reflection that we have a tired and weary House of Commons which really needs to be refreshed by a general election?

  • Comment number 25.

    #20:

    Tend to agree with you there. Nick even said that for the first time in 3 years Gordon Brown believes he has 'got' David Cameron. Wishful thinking on his part I believe and Andrew Neill as you say wasn't having any of it! Labour will indeed be forced to make cuts in real terms (do they take us for fools?). The size of the cuts and their exact nature will have to be spelled out by both the main protagonists. The nature of these is the real difference between the two of them.

  • Comment number 26.

    From what has been suggested so far the new Speaker should be a man of integrity, impartiality, unelected, with a good and long experience of Parliament and not involved with the Government (at least in the near future). There is only one candidate that fits the vacancy: Lord Mandelson!.

  • Comment number 27.

    I imagine that MPs are taking this perfectly seriously, having already made up their minds. Alas, I am not an MP (Alas?) so can only comment that for Ann Widdecombe it is either this, reality TV or the next Dr Who. Let it be she. It would look well on the politics channels of all those countries to whom our institutions are already endearingly quaint. How very good for tourism that would be. As she cannot be on the coins, let her be suspended symbolically over the mother of Parliaments like some latterday David Blaine, in the Speaker's chair.

  • Comment number 28.

    Where's Frank Field when you need him?

  • Comment number 29.

    #25 sicilian29

    Could Cameron be playing a longer game? Its a fair bet that the election will be next year, and the Tory ace is Brown as PM to the last minute.

    If Brown was made to look useless at PMQs his backbenchers would ditch him. And lets face it, as Nick's article shows they only care about PMQs - more journalists watching the hustings than MPs present!

  • Comment number 30.

    John Bercow? Oh dear god, please, no.

    Come back Michael Martin. All is forgiven.

  • Comment number 31.

    I would personally like to see my lovely MP stand for speaker, Dr Richard Taylor. He has not been tainted by any expenses scandel and his claims are one of the lowest, he is respected by the local people and as an inderpendant will not be biased towards a perticular party. Every time I have met him I seam to have more respect for him, even when he was working at kiddy hospital. Shame is not stnding.

  • Comment number 32.

    As for PMQ's exchange, would 1 of the parties please pledge to cut public spending by 20%, they would get my vote. A 20% cut would not mean 20% less nurses, police, soldiers etc just a reduction inuneccessary spend and waste.
    My advice to Cameron, don't deny the 10% tag, embrace it and promise not to bankrupt this country.

  • Comment number 33.

    Nick...you are doing it again...! At Prime Minister's Questions it is clear that Gordon did well and Mr ten percent was at it again about the cuts..buy hey you are not there reporting the tories weaknesses..you come up with a distraction such as the the election of the speaker turnout to miniise damage to the tories..Here we go again...Nick Robinson pro tory politial journalist for the bbc. Everyone knows most of us cant stand Gordon Brown but now its about policies..,.you just want to report only the weaknesses of the Labour party!! Shame on you!!!

  • Comment number 34.

    As for Frank Field, he is far too valuable a thinker and specialist in social policy for his talents to be wasted on flummery, knee-breeches and the like. No, if it cannot be Boris (it cannot)then let it, I say again, be Widdecombe. That could be spectacular viewing.

  • Comment number 35.

    getridofgordonnow wrote:

    'Are you seriously saying, Nick, that the tories are all pushing for a labour speaker just because they think that one of the tory candidates is a bit vain? Your pro-labour spin is breathtakingly blatant.'

    I think Nick is saying that they are pushing for a labour speaker because they hate John Bercow. His vanity is only one of the reasons. I think the main one is that he criticises his own party while sucking up to Labour. There has been quite a lot about this in various papers for about a week now, e.g.

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/benedict_brogan/blog/2009/06/16/does_john_bercow_have_enough_tory_seconders

    http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/steve-richards/steve-richards-why-id-vote-for-bercow-as-speaker-1706041.html

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/race-for-speakers-chair-turns--dirty-as-rivals-round-on-bercow-1706020.html

    I particularly like the ABC campaign (anyone but Bercow). It reminded me that the only thing I liked about John Major was his insistence on 'anything but Chardonnay'.

    Anyway, as I don't think we can accuse The Telegraph of pro-Labour spin, I suspect Nick is probably just telling the truth.

  • Comment number 36.

    Did the last couple of weeks exist? From todays performance nothing has changed in the old boys club, they ignored the public and seem to drift onwards with business as usual. What is the point of the PMQ when all it appears to be is a public point scoring match with some soft questions thrown in, no wonder people have given up on this place...It seems the speaker position is lining up the usual suspects to continue with the out of touch 18th C performance we get from the old boys club. Unless they change expect the turn out to fall even further and those interested in voting going elsewhere.

  • Comment number 37.

    Nick

    On other blogs it is being said that this weeks Question Time asked all 22 cabinet Ministers if they wished to attend on Thursdays show. Each one of them turned down the invitation. Is this true?

    Are they all that scared of facing the public? Not exactly their finest hour is it?

  • Comment number 38.

    Davidou1234 - Did we watch the same PMQ's. GBs performance was a joke. It is only time for policys when GB finally calls an election as correct me if i'm wrong the liebours have a tendincy to steal ideas!

  • Comment number 39.

    hey DAVIDOU1234 No.33 What planet are you on son ? You must be one of Gordon Brown's question planters ! The world and his brother know that our Nick is a total " Brown Freak " so you are as mendacious as the PM himself !

  • Comment number 40.

    Anne Widdecombe for me even though my old boss used to say: "put a saddle on her".

    If it was the general public voting she'd be the winner.

  • Comment number 41.

    Gordon Brown continues to dig an ever deeper hole for himself by denying that he will also be forced to make substantial real term cuts in some Public Services if God forbid he wins the next General Election. Alistair Darling has warned him against this strategy as has the puppet controller Mandy. How long will it take for the penny to drop that the advice he has taken from the woeful Balls is wrong? If I had to choose between Mr Bean and Mr 10% I know where my vote would fall.

  • Comment number 42.

    Can Mr Robinson or Mr Clown PLEASE evidence the lie they r spouting that Tories will cut public services more than Liebour?????

    As for the next Speaker - please let it be Beckett as it shows what she, Clown, and LIEBOUR stand for - their snouts in our trough and LIES, LIES, AND MORE DAMNED LIES.

  • Comment number 43.

    I'm not a Lib Dem, but surely, surely, Sir Alan Beith is the obvious best choice for speaker.

    The idea of electing either Beckett or Widdecombe is scary - the latter can be too controversial, whilst Beckett wasn't exactly a brilliant Foreign Secretary, was she?

    Beith for me - by a mile.

  • Comment number 44.

    Sorry Nick, slightly off topic here (by the way Ann Widdecombe for interim speaker, nobody else comes close in terms of independence and apparent 'cleanliness')but:

    33 - davidou1234

    Firstly you can't seriously believe that Nick Robinson is pro-Tory.

    Secondly (and I acknowldge that PMQs is like a boy scout's overnight camp) do you really think Gordon Brown comes over as either remotely in charge or remotely in tune with public opinion when he repeats not once but 4 times the hoary old mantra about 'they are the party of the few, we are the party of the many' and keeps on bleating about the oposition health secretary's comments about 10% cuts.

    Everybody knows cuts are coming, it is a question of when and how. Similarly with new taxes, there will be more (perhaps honest ones from the Tories about increasing income tax (I'm guessing), but more likely devious ones from NuLiebor such as the new telephone tax)

  • Comment number 45.

    15. At 1:38pm on 17 Jun 2009, thegangofone wrote:
    Beckett is too tainted with Labour "sofa politics" and basically sleaze. Too many favours may be owed.

    What about the young Asian Labour candidate - a new representative face and I liked his talk of plain speaking and reform.

    The peoples candidate.

    Meanwhile I guess the MPs are all trying to find McBride so he can give evidence of the smear campaign to the House of Commons committee.

    Sometimes fantasy keeps you going for a while.

    ===

    The Scotland on Sunday has found him. He's back spinning for the government. So much for change and transparency, eh Gordon?

    http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com/labourparty/McBride-39back-working-for-government39.5364066.jp

  • Comment number 46.

    flamepatricia 40

    Without doubt it should be Anne Widdecombe for many reasons, we know she is honest, her expenses were in good order, she will not favour one side or the other, she is a strong moral women which suggests she will not do anything against her conscience. Also she will only be in place for a year until the next election therefore a new Parliament can pick their own Speaker.

    However anybody would do instead of the dreadful Bercow, this mans vanity knows no bounds, besides which he has had problems with his expenses, I cannot bear the man a proper crawler if there ever was one.

    However it seems Brown is letting his Party know in no uncertain terms who he wants as Speaker, so I guess the decision is already in the bag unless they decide to defy him.

  • Comment number 47.

    I've just read the list of 145 Labour, 20 Tory, 2 Indi. and 0 Lib. Dem. MPs who voted against Mr. Martin's expenses reforms last year. Surely this is a starting point to reduce the list of candidates for speaker. Margaret Beckett and Anne Widdecombe voted against so cannot be suitable. Next we need to know who voted for the change and who abstained.

    Interesting list of objectors, including Nick Brown, Byers, Dobson, Flint, Ingram, Kilfoyle, McNulty, McShane, Mahmood, Raynsford, Jacqui Smith, Keith Vaz, Winterton, Woodward, Iain Wright, Kirkbride, and Nicholas and Ann Winterton.

    Lets hope none of the 167 MPs who voted against are in contention for this important office. How can anyone come in with a stated aim of cleaning up parliament having not voted for this?

    Hopeless Speaker Martin has finally stirred up something worthwhile.

  • Comment number 48.

    In an ideal world , Margaret Mountford would be the new Speaker, an icy stare is often enough,but with an acidic tongue as back up, she would keep MPs in line.Alternatively, her skills could be used as an Expenses Czarina, going through each MPs claims with a fine tooth comb- try explaining a claim for a duck pond with her staring at you across the table.

  • Comment number 49.

    I would gladly step up to the plate and take on the role of speaker.
    Under ZIM, MPs and Wayward PMs would be slapped back into line.
    As the old adage goes - Spare the Rod, Spoil the child.

    No more football hooligans on the benches.
    MPs would be made to follow a strict code of conduct, ensuring that the mutual respect of all is maintained.

    MPs and PMs in particular, would be made to answer questions directly.
    No more Brownian ducking and diving, bobbing and weaving.

    Above all, NO MORE LIES dressed up in the musty robes of rhetoric.

    Vote Zim if you want real change and a return to civilized democracy.

    Britain deserves better.
    Britain deserves ZIM.

  • Comment number 50.

    46. At 4:23pm on 17 Jun 2009, Susan-Croft wrote:


    Without doubt it should be Anne Widdecombe for many reasons, we know she is honest, her expenses were in good order, she will not favour one side or the other, she is a strong moral women which suggests she will not do anything against her conscience. Also she will only be in place for a year until the next election therefore a new Parliament can pick their own Speaker.

    However anybody would do instead of the dreadful Bercow, this mans vanity knows no bounds, besides which he has had problems with his expenses, I cannot bear the man a proper crawler if there ever was one.

    However it seems Brown is letting his Party know in no uncertain terms who he wants as Speaker, so I guess the decision is already in the bag unless they decide to defy him.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    Susan...A rather belated thanks for your kind comments on that rather notorious thread the other week

  • Comment number 51.

    26. At 2:10pm on 17 Jun 2009, giannir wrote:
    From what has been suggested so far the new Speaker should be a man of integrity, impartiality, unelected, with a good and long experience of Parliament and not involved with the Government (at least in the near future). There is only one candidate that fits the vacancy: Lord Mandelson!.

    ===

    Somehow I don't think the Right Hon the Baron Mandelson of Foy in the county of Herefordshire and Hartlepool in the county of Durham, First Secretary of State, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and Lord President of the Council will give up his scrabble game of titles just to become speaker.

  • Comment number 52.

    33. At 2:27pm on 17 Jun 2009, davidou1234

    What about Gordon Mr 7% Brown?

  • Comment number 53.

    I fear that you waste what talent you have covering this issue

    Whilst it all helps to inform the debate, and the candidate selected will say a great deal about what the HoC is going to do to clean up the mess left by this speaker (please remove his pension before he leaves the building), the ordinary electorate can not influence the choice

    So please cover the list of Lies and half truths that Brown covered at PMQ's whilst he selectively quoted from the Red Book and refused to acknowledge what his own chancellor has been briefing to the press

  • Comment number 54.

    What about Mandelson - he is doing everything else and not being an MP doesn't seem to stop him.

    Only joking, really.

  • Comment number 55.

    Why not let Mandleson do the speakers job as well. In fact why bother having parliament, just make Mandleson the president of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Job done!

  • Comment number 56.

    Wasn't Mandie the one with the dodgy mortgage some years ago from that Robinson bloke? - Widdecombe is the one for the job, and a damned attractive woman at that!

  • Comment number 57.

    ghostworld 50

    Not at all, it is for me to thank you for your kind support, which brought you a lot of unnecessary hassle.

  • Comment number 58.

    OK, let's be scientific about this.

    What are the chances of the candidates are concerned about being re-elected next time round and fancy a free run at it?

    Their majorities at the last election were: Sir Alan Beith - 8632, John Bercow - 18129, Sir Patrick Cormack - 8847, Parmjit Dhanda - 4271, Sir Alan Haselhurst - 13008, Sir Michael Lord - 7856, Richard Shepherd - 5507, Ann Widdecombe - 14856, Sir George Young - 13264. The average is 10,486.

    Remove anyone below that and you are left with Bercow, Haselhurst, Widdecombe and Young.

    Anyone who's name has come up in the expenses scandal?

    Bercow flipped his second home from his constituency to a £540,000 flat in London and claimed the maximum possible allowances for it and . . . "repaid" £6,500 capital gains tax on the sale of two properties (Telegraph). Haselhurst charged the taxpayer almost £12,000 for gardening bills (Telegraph), Widdecombe 'claimed just £858' (Telegraph), Sir George Young claimed the maximum second home allowance on his London flat for the past two years (Telegraph).

    So Mr. and Ms. Clean are undoubtedly Widdecombe and Young.

    I expected it to be more complicate than that but there should be two front runners - in the unlikely even that MPs take the blindest bit of notice of what we think..

  • Comment number 59.

    52. At 4:59pm on 17 Jun 2009, yellowbelly1959

    Mr 7% Brown.

    According to detailed analysis and observation carried out by secret Invader technology, I can confirm that this measurement is appropriate to all aspects of Gordo's life.

    We already know of his approval rating, but we have looked far deeper.

    We feel your frustration with this labour leader, we really do - Poor Mrs Brown.

  • Comment number 60.

    "When I asked one leading Tory who he'd be backing he pinched his nose, looked pained and remarked "It'll have to be Ma Beckett".

    Unless you name that Tory nobody will (or should) believe you. I do not think for a nanosecond that ANY Tory, leading or otherwise, would have said what you "quote".

    Just in case it's not clear: I think you've made that anecdote up.

  • Comment number 61.

    'But my eye was caught by Margaret Beckett...'

    So, Brown and his cabal insert yet another of their brethren into the Speakers chair. And right from the horse's mouth ,too.

    Tell me, Nick, how can a former Labour cabinet minister POSSIBLY be seen as 'impartial'. Please?

    Beckett will be elecetd Speaker by a House of Commons dominated by Labour lick-spittles. Eight yeasr ago, Martin was 'whipped' through to do Brown's and Blair's bidding in the chamber.

    Ever wondered why neither of them has ever been forced to actually answer a question at PMQ's? Ever wondered why Government policy was made by 'press release' and not forced to make any policy announcements to the House?

    Becasue Martin was 'inserted' to do the Government's bidding. Period.

    And Beckett will do exactly the same.

    What's that French phrase? Plus ca change, plus ca meme chose?

  • Comment number 62.

    My mother and a couple of colleagues were a couple of weeks ago that she had to retire because she was over 65 and it was 'company policy'. It was pointed out that under our law there is no right to continue working and because she is over 65, no right to redundancy.

    Now a read a list of speaker candidates most of whom are in their sixties and seventies and some of whom will be nearly 80 by the end of the next parliament.

    Isn't this just another case of one rule for them and another for the rest of us?

  • Comment number 63.

    I don't particularly care who the speaker is, except perhaps that it should be a Labour MP with a safe seat - Less chance of a hung parliament at the next general election.

  • Comment number 64.

    why dont Beckett and Widdecome jobshare it ? Very fashionable these days to do half a job, almost exclusively female, so that fits as well.

    As Beckett was nicknamed Rosa Klebb and Widdecome Doris Karloff , we would have the Karloff and Klebb show.

    To borrow from 34 solpugid, that woyuld be spectacular viewing. We may as well be entertained we get precious little else from them.

  • Comment number 65.

    Terribly sorry. Somehow left out Margaret Beckett. 600 quids worth of pot plants is probably OK but she fell at the first. Majority 5,657.

  • Comment number 66.

    I think we not only saw the last of Speaker Martin, but also one of the last PMQs for The Rt Hon Leader of Her Majesty's Opposition.

  • Comment number 67.

    #34. I agree, Frank Field is indeed a fine thinker, which is probably why the Labour Party Poo Pooed the very Social policies he was paid to come up with.
    Fine minds left the Labour Party years ago, only to be replaced by career yes men.
    Perhaps the Tories could pay him to head up their Social Policy reviews when they invariably slide into power next year.
    Now that would really be a coup.

    Yes Widdys the obvious choice as Speaker
    Shes intelligent, politically switched on to the ways of Westminster & not afraid to put anybody in their place just the ticket.
    The trouble is that she wont let anybody pull the wool over her eyes.
    The Girls too smart & thats what many MPs are afraid of.
    They just want things to go back to the way they where, heaven forbid.

  • Comment number 68.

    I don't believe it.
    Invader Widdicome was supposed to be retired.
    How dare she muscle in on my territory.

    I have enjoyed her antics in parliament over the years but this is too much.

    I was relying on being the Speaker to further my plan for world domination.

    You've crossed the Line Invader Widdicome.
    Crossed the line.
    And that was the line that should never have been crossed.

    You have left me no choice, it's time for Plan B.

  • Comment number 69.

    66 wasowenright

    You are right, if there was any justice in this world, he would be attending be in the capacity of PM

  • Comment number 70.

  • Comment number 71.

    66. At 6:17pm on 17 Jun 2009, wasowenright wrote:
    I think we not only saw the last of Speaker Martin, but also one of the last PMQs for The Rt Hon Leader of Her Majesty's Opposition.

    ===

    You mean you have inside knowledge of an early general election?

    Bring it on!

  • Comment number 72.

    66. At 6:17pm on 17 Jun 2009, wasowenright wrote

    I cannot allow this injustice to go unchallenged.
    The last time we abducted Brown and Cameron we carried out detailed psychometric tests.

    The easiest may to describe the results in Human terms is to use Star Wars as an analogy.

    Brown - Dictatorial, desperate for power, vengeful and cruel.
    More of a Palpatine / Sith than a Jedi.
    He has succumbed to the dark side

    Cameron Kind and caring, its not about the power, its about wielding it for the benefit and protection of others.
    The human embodiment of the Jedi ideals. More of an Obi-Wan
    True to the pure living force.

    Casual observation of Clegg suggests all of his characteristics are more akin to those of Jar Jar Binks.

    Oh and a I must mention the resemblance and characteristic similarities between Balls and Jabba the Hutt. Obviously further explanation is not required.

    For info, the control in these tests was the personality of Zim, who is more of a dashing and daring Boba Fett type personality, free spirited, brave and mysterious.

    Zim over and out.

  • Comment number 73.

    I would like to think that whoever take over the position of Speaker will actually try and get Gordon Brown to answer the questions put to him, instead of allowing him to read out prepared statements, whose foothold in reality is tenuous to say the least.

    Following last weeks PLP meeting on Monday, where some changes were apparently mooted, his conduct at PMQs has actually got worse each week since then. Whilst no one ever thought he had the dignity, stature or sense of good conduct required for the position of PM, but his PG Tips advert of a performance at PMQs is demeaning and undermining to our country, government and politics in general. His own survival is all he is interested in now. Spin, smear, stealth tax and now survival - sums up his premiership.

    The only positive thing about PMQs now, is that for every PMQ that there is, it means another week has passed towards the day when this appalling individual will no longer our PM.

  • Comment number 74.

    62 minnsy

    "Isn't this just another case of one rule for them and another for the rest of us?"

    Yes. Another fine example of equality and fairness for hardwroking families in Brown's Britain today.

  • Comment number 75.

    # soixant-neuf, old

    Cameron & Gideon, if there were any justice in the world, these two would never be elected.

  • Comment number 76.

    Gordon the Brown, a most unfortunate fellow,
    You hear him screech and caw and bellow,
    The lies he spews are acidic and bile,
    He surrounds himself with creatures vile,

    From the shadows a figure hypnotically waddles,
    To curb the Brown and the filth he twaddles,
    Its old Widdy the rotund, a speaker to be,
    Cuddly and profound, the good looks of ET.

    Reluctantly, I concede and she has my vote,
    To Brown the Gordon and throttle his throat.
    Widdy cunningly reveals Gordos end is nigh.
    If he steps out of line, hell get a punch in the eye!

  • Comment number 77.

    #71 yellow

    I just can't help myself, replying to your posts. Yes I do have inside knowledge. The Tories are looking for their, how many is it now since New Labour came to power? The baseball cap, the quite one, the man of the night and the Eton boy with his fag. Who next?

    After to-day's performance he knows his numbers up.

  • Comment number 78.

    Was it me or has brown dyed his hair, he looked a little less battered today? (despite the battering he received again)

    Id love to see him get told to answer a question, it would make this sorry state of a government worth watching for a 10min while he squirms.

  • Comment number 79.

    #72 zim

    I have no idea what you are talking about, but if Dave is as good as you say he is, why didn't you keep him for whatever planet you are from.

  • Comment number 80.

    forgotten @ 67

    Frank Field is indeed a fine thinker, which is probably why the Labour Party Poo Pooed the very Social policies he was paid to come up with

    not your fault (you weren't around at the time) but a few of us got together yesterday (me, yellow belly, couple of others) and we agreed not to type "Poo Poo" unless absolutely necessary - was it absolutely necessary here? ... don't think so because you could have typed "disparaged" (IMO) and that would have meant more or less the same

  • Comment number 81.

    Glad as I am to se Spearker Martin go, I thought he went gracefully with humour and a few good pointy fingers with a promise to tell all if asked!!!!!!!!!!!

    I loved his tale of a politician about to stand down who, on listening to the many praisworthy things said of him, said I didnt know you all liked me so much, I think I will stay on.

    It took a long time for Brown to switch on his laughy face whilst all around enjoyed a good guffaw.

  • Comment number 82.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 83.

    As long as the next Speaker NEVER lets the idiot Skinner speak again most of the population would vote for them, Planted questions should also be immediately curtailed by the speaker and the most important thing they should say is that it is PM Questions not questions about the opposition !!!! and demand the PM answers the questions, unlike the disgraced Martin.

  • Comment number 84.

    #newstead73

    How can it be a stealth tax when the government have announced it already?

  • Comment number 85.

    #susan croft

    They are not electing an interim Speaker, that is why it is important to elect the right person. Michael Martin was the first Speaker to be forced out for 300 years, they cannot make a habit of ditching someone on a whim and diminishing the office of Mr/Madam Speaker. All 646 MPs have a secret vote, so there is no reason to elect the wrong person. Which ever party is returned as the government in 2010 will have to retain the person elected, otherwise the whole exercise becomes a sham. These 640 people who we elected to represent us, have already made a scapegoat of Michael Martin. It would be shameful if the election to one of the highest offices of state were to descend into a party political farce.

  • Comment number 86.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 87.

    Gordon the Brown, mean, unfortunate fellow,
    You hear him screech and caw and bellow,
    The lies he spews are acidic and bile,
    He surrounds himself with creatures vile,

    From the shadows a figure hypnotically waddles,
    To curb the Brown and the filth he twaddles,
    Its old Widdy the rotund, a speaker to be,
    Cuddly and profound, with the charm of ET.

    Reluctantly, I concede and she has my vote,
    She'll Brown the Gordon and undo his bloat.
    Widdy cunningly reveals with a slap of her thigh.
    If Gordo steps out of line he'll get her evil eye!

  • Comment number 88.

    "That is certainly the wish of a growing number of Tories who loathe their own man Bercow..."

    How many?

    "A growing number" is one of those phrases which gives a superficial impression of considerable relative size, but which could be describing two people - i.e. from a base of one, we now have two - therefore that's a growing number.

    Nick, could you please be a bit more accurate and informative about this (and far be it from me to ever suggest that you are engaged in - dare I use the word - "spin" here!)

  • Comment number 89.

    85. At 9:26pm on 17 Jun 2009, valdan70 wrote:
    #susan croft

    They are not electing an interim Speaker, that is why it is important to elect the right person.

    ===

    Which would rule out Ann Widdecombe, who has announced that she is retiring at the next election.

  • Comment number 90.

    Hmm choices choices. I suggest that we have nothing to choose between them. Both have proven to be such great servants of the people of this once proud nation... I suggest that it must be decided by a contest of virtue and beauty. Ann vs Margaret.. Perfect. Now I can only wonder what our european friends in France and Germany will say to our political conundrum. Mein gott im himmel comes to mind....

  • Comment number 91.

    #87 zim

    I asked which planet you came from earlier and after that contribution I guess it is Vogon.

  • Comment number 92.

    Bercow was also the subject of a less than flattering article in Private Eye's HP Sauce recently.

    As for Margaret Becket, In my (not humble) opinion she is a new Labour insider whose loyalty will be to Brown and the Executive, not the House - still less to the electorate. She has also been a conspicuous failure in every Ministry she has been in charge of. Nor am I aware of her performances in the House ever being anything more than mediocre.

    As an ex Labour old leftie, I would go for Doris! I don't agree with Anne Widdecombe on much, but I absolutely respect her integrity - and passion. She would also be entertaining. We don't want to turn even more people off politics. Margaret Becket makes me want to switch off as soon as I see her. Doris is a treasure - a real eccentric in the best British tradition, and she hasn't had a snout anywhere near the trough!

  • Comment number 93.

    It's the unelected cabinet, weaving disorder,
    Most of them Scots, from North of the border,
    Expenses for the rich, cast offs for the poor,
    The MPs house on the corner, mounds of tax to ignore.

    Brown is their leader, the nation he bleeds,
    Fruits of our labour, with taxes he greeds,
    Minsters getting rich, the Publics getting poor,
    Brown's belly is full yet he screams more, more, more.

    Vote Widdy for speaker, truth and honour's renown,
    The scurrilous Ministers, she'll control, including Brown,
    Chidings if they bitch, harsh words if they're dour,
    With sharp wit and wisdom, shell wipe the parliamentary floor.

  • Comment number 94.

    Brown shuffling papers and looking disinterested as Speaker Martin spoke and then standing up to present a tribute just about says it all. False, false, false!

  • Comment number 95.

    BBC Newsnight right now dealing with the fact that Alistair Darling is not singing from the same hymn book as The Governor of The Bank Of England. More in tomorrow's papers I'm sure!

  • Comment number 96.

    DORIS DORIS DORIS - IN IN IN!!!

    ;-)

  • Comment number 97.

    #91:

    While you yourself of course are from the newly named planet 'Balls'.

  • Comment number 98.

    #83 You're wrong about "the Beast of Bolsover". Dennis Skinner is popular across party lines - not least because his scorn has often been directed at the obsequiousness of careerist members of his own side.

  • Comment number 99.

    Perhaps we can call the Prime Minister a new nickname "7 CUT"

  • Comment number 100.

    The redoubtable Ms Widdecombe is one of the shrewdest operators in parliament. By playing the character "Ann Widdecombe", she secures for herself one of the top three incomes amongst MPs. She has become so rich playing this character that she barely has to bother with the petty embezzlements which lesser MPs are reduced to perpetrating.

    She is the walking embodiment of Gore Vidal's memorable assessment of politics: "Showbusiness for ugly people".

    She gets my vote.

    That's entertainment!

 

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