PM's Speakers Week
Today marks the climax of PM's Speaker Week. Each day last week, we heard manifestos for restoring trust between governed and governors and then on Friday, our four alternative Speaker candidates debated live with each other.
(1) Why do an alternative Speaker competition at all? Why not just hear from the actual candidates for the actual post?
"Yes, and" (as the managers say). We did cover the Hansard Society hustings quite extensively on Monday's PM, hearing from each of the candidates. This has been the only public forum so far - there'll more coverage of today's hustings in the House tonight.
But given that MPs defenestrated Michael Martin as part of their response to the crisis of trust arising from the expenses scandal, we thought that there was more than enough room to hear from people in public life with ideas about how to change things.
(2) Why did you choose the candidates you did?
My original brief to our excellent producer, Manveen, was simply to find people who make you want to turn the radio up when they start speaking. I'm sure with that in mind, almost everyone will disagree with our selection for at least one of our four Speakers.
We approached all kinds of figures across a range of areas: in particular, we tried to persuade some prominent business types to take part, without success.
Surely the ideas of an inspirational army colonel, a prize-winning novelist, a former DG of the BBC and a former Archbishop of Canterbury are of interest to anyone thinking about trust in the institutions of the nation?
(3) What came out of it?
I think it was inevitable that we had a quart-into-pint-pot difficulty, and I wish that we'd had even more time to continue the debate on Friday's show.
But over the week, we devoted 45 minutes to a debate which dealt with Lords reform, the kind of people who become MPs, what happens to them when they make it to Parliament, how to keep MPs in touch with the concerns of their constituents, parliamentary reform and whether it's the answer to the expenses question - and much else besides.
(4) Why did we need a phone vote?
We were very keen to gauge to what degree our candidates were finding favour with the audience, and we thought an independently-verified phone vote was the most robust and straightforward way to do this.
Several correspondents to the PM blog asked whether we (the BBC) were making any money from the competition: the short answer is "no". The competition (now closed) was conducted in accordance with the BBC's guidance on competitions.
In short: undoubtedly not a perfect exercise, but hopefully an enjoyable and thought-provoking one. How it compares to the debate in SW1, we'll have to see...