Speaker election gets X-Factor makeover
With MPs trying to get their house in order as the expenses scandal rumbles on, the election procedure for the new Speaker has had a makeover, with election hustings to take place for the first time.
Organised by the political research charity the Hansard Society the hustings will televised, with would-be candidates publishing manifestos and campaigning ahead of a secret ballot by MPs.
So far so good.
Until that is you peruse the list of the 11 candidates jostling to succeed Martin.
Former Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett, Frank Field and Parmjit Dhanda are the Labour MPs who have thrown their hat into the ring.
Conservative backbencher John Bercow is the bookmakers’ favourite, with Tory MPs Sir Patrick Cormack, Sir Alan Haselhurst, Sir Michael Lord, Richard Shepherd, Ann Widdecombe and Sir George Young also in the running. For the record that’s just four Sirs on the Tory shortlist.
Sir Alan Beith is the sole Liberal Democrat candidate.
It would be interesting to find out how many members of the public would recognise any of these candidates if they were shown mugshots of the MPs.
No doubt caravanners would know who Beckett is, while Widdecombe’s appearances on television programmes such as Have I Got News For You and Celebrity Fit Club probably make her the most recognisable of the aspiring Speakers.
But why does the Speaker have to be an MP, given their political affiliations and the fact that they must remain impartial in chairing debates in the Commons chamber.
So for a bit of Parliament X-Factor what about Sir Alan Sugar, Simon Cowell or Joanna Lumley for Speaker?