Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Commons Gets It Right At Last!

With their blacked out expenses, there was a growing suspicion that if the Commons could something wrong they would. On the eve of the Speaker's election, I was seriously concerned that they might just vote for the least able and qualified candidate - Margaret Beckett. It turns out I needn't have worried. After three rounds of voting, the MPs elected John Bercow as the new Speaker. Bercow is a relatively young man, a fine speaker and a parliamentarian to his fingertips. His political journey from the hard rightist I remember from FCS days, to the left-wing Tory of today, bespeaks an intelligent willingness to question and challenge his own beliefs, and a refreshing break from the tribalism of parliamentary parties.

John Bercow has re-introduced the country to the idea of an articulate Speaker, and I have little doubt that he will seek to exercise the Speaker's role as an independent upholder of the House of Commons against the overweening power of the executive. There has been much mealy-mouthed comment from too many Tories today. Stupidest comment of the day must go to the whining Nadine Dorries, who described the Speaker's election as "an act of vindictiveness". More encouragingly, the Tory MP Douglas Carswell, who has already proved himself to be a doughty defender of Commons freedom against the executive, said that he had voted for John Bercow as his second preference, after his first choice, Richard Shepard, was knocked out.

Although much of this morning's commentary centres around Bercow's unpopularity with the Conservative benches, the fact is we now have a young, intelligent, reform-minded Speaker. The Commons got it right after all.

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