You might be forgiven for thinking that if ever there were a definition of the job that no-one would want then Speaker of the House of Commons would be pretty near the top of the pile just now. Nevertheless 10 punters have put their names forward. They are:
Margaret Beckett (Lab)
Sir Alan Beith (Lib Dem)
John Bercow (Con)
Sir Patrick Cormack (Con)
Parmjit Dhanda (Lab)
Sir Alan Haselhurst (Con)
Sir Michael Lord (Con)
Richard Shepherd (Con)
Ann Widdecombe (Con)
Sir George Young (Con)
I suppose one positive note for whoever is chosen is that he or she couldn’t possibly do worse than the outgoing man. However the winner (and this is being done by secret ballot) is facing a monumental task in restoring the reputation of Parliament. They are going to have to be radical and they are going to have to face down the vested interests of both the Government and of  long-standing members who like their club just the way it is. Cosmetic changes would serve them just fine. The electorate on the other wants visible change.
So it’s very disappointing but quite predictable that the Government are apparently trying to fix it to ensure that New Labour loyalist Margaret Beckett gets the job, or failing her John Bercow whose only qualification appears to be that he’s not very popular within his own party. You have to ask yourself: have these people learned nothing?
My choice? Ann Widdecombe. Tough, independant minded and , given that she is standing down from Parliament at the next elelction, she has  absolutely no incentive to keep things as they are.

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