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John Bercow calls for "national leadership" to Save General Election Night

SaveElectionNight graphic In his interview with Carolyn Quinn for The Westminster Hour earlier in the month, John Bercow ignalled his support for Thursday night election counts.

But after a Point of Order raised yesterday by Julian Lewis - highlighting the agreement of Harriet Harman and her Tory shadow, Sir George Young, at last week's business questions - the Speaker went further in his support for the Save General Election Night campaign.

Here's what Mr Bercow told the Commons:

Speaker Bercow 3 "For my own part, I am a passionate believer in instant, not slow motion, democracy. It seems to me that it is in the interests of the House and the country that the count should take place on the night, and there are two overwhelmingly compelling reasons why: first, I believe that there could be a threat to the security of the ballot if the count is delayed; and, secondly, it seems to me that on the day the election takes place, it should be possible for the count also to take place so that we get the result speedily.

"Frankly, it should not be beyond the wit and sagacity of humankind—or indeed of local authorities—to ensure that that happens. I politely suggest to the House that what is required is not a passive acceptance of the particular views of individual local authority chief executives, but rather an assertion of leadership nationally and politically, at a local level, to achieve what I sense the House is uniting in wishing to see."

Hear, hear to that. He is right that since the decision on timing of the count is currently written in statute as being entirely at the discretion of the Returning Officer (often the chief executive of the relevant local authority), it needs pressure to be exerted on a cross-party basis both at a local and national level to focus their minds..

Jonathan Isaby


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