Friday, September 04, 2009

Why We Shouldn't Stand Against Speaker Bercow

Darell Godliffe asks 'Why are We Not Standing Against Bercow?' stating that letting Nigel Farrage have a free run at Bercow would be wrong in his eyes.

I disagree, if we wanted an interim speaker only until the end of this Parliament we should have voted for Ann Widdecombe who stood with that as her platform in the recent election. Of course up in Scotland we will soon have the writ moved for the election to replace former Speaker Martin. The gloating that the SNP are doing that they came second here last time is ridiculous especially where you consider the opposition. They were less than a thousand ahead of the Socialist Labour candidate, the other parties were Scottish Socialist, Scottish Unionist, BNP and an Independent. The Scottish Socialist and Unionists had faced him as speaker in 2001 as well. In 1997 Betty Boothroyd was opposed by Independent Labour and the National Democrats.

People talk about the convention of not opposing the speaker but in 1987 Bernard Wetherill was opposed by representatives of both the other political groupings. Bernard had first been elected as a Conservative in 1964, was elected Speaker in 1983. In 1987 he faced Labour's Christine Patrick and the SDP's J.D. Goldie. Indeed it was the 1974 elections that you next find Labour and this time the Liberals opposing a sitting Speaker against Selwyn Lloyd. Although in 1979 George Thomas faced Plaid Cymru and the National Front.

So while the 'convention' for not standing against a sitting speaker is not as set in stone as some people may have you believe, it is none the less a precedent symbolising the apolitical nature of the role. Indeed it seems to be one, that even if contested, the constituents seem to back up as not one speaker seeking election since 1969 has polled less than 50% of the vote.

While Darell did say correctly that Nick Clegg did break convention by speaking out against the speaker I don't think playing party politics in the Speakers seat is the time or place to do so. We can take the case for reform in the commons up against a number of discredited MPs or their successors. Unless the speaker shows evidence of being partisan, biased or a detriment to Parliament, so far I don't think Bercow fits into any of those categories.

So let Farage have his day in the sun, only towards the end of the Euro campaign did anyone challenge him on UKIP expenses when his own are far for austere in nature.

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