« Waste, over-spending and poor revenue strategies contribute to CCHQ's deteriorating financial position | Main | Michael Gove attacks proposed changes to primary curriculum »


It simply has to be Sir Alan Haslehurst, an MP at the end of his career, with huge experience of the House, the Chair and the respect of all.

How about Roger Gale. He is one of the longest serving members and IIRC he has sat in the chair before

I don't care whether the next speaker is a Tory or not. I do care whether the next speaker is competent unblike the incumbent.
Martin is yet another stain on the reputation of new Labour.

I don't think Cormack, Winterton or Bercow are particularly good advertisements for Parliament, do you?

Bercow has been disloyal to every recent Conservative leader.

I hope that no Conservative MP would help him to the Speakership.

John Bercow, what a laugh! His name is already dirt among some and so patently doesn't meet you standard.

Sir Alan Haslehurst is easily the best man for the job.

I agree with Malcolm Dunn (09:17). I don't care if the Speaker is Labour, Conservative, Lib-Dem or any other party - I just want them to be good at the job. I don't think that Speaker Martin has done much other than bring the office of Speaker increasingly into disrepute (mainly by not being very good at his job).
The thing that slightly irks me is that since most Speakers end up in the House of Lords we'll probably have to put up with Michael Martin being ennobled. What a thought...

After 16 years of a Labour Speaker, including 8 years of a bad one, it is definitely 'our' turn.

Having met Sir Alan Haselhurst, I feel he would be ideal. He is a gentleman of the old school. Sir Malcolm Rifkind would also be good, although we could use him in Government.

Not Bercow, Cormack or Winterton.

I don't think it is 'our' turn if ours are not the best candidates. The best candidates this time around may well be Tory, but they should get the job because they are Tories.

The new Speaker doesn't have to be a Tory at all. I would suggest that after Mick, it is essential that the Speaker must not be a tribalist, must not be partisan, must be scrupulous in his (or her) private life, must revere the history of the Mother of Parliaments and must have the gravitas to be able to restore the Supremacy of Parliament over the Executive. Not only does Ming spring to mind, but how about Frank Field? Sacked for not following Tony's third way, he has kept largely clear of parliamentary plotting. Furthermore, despite his many talents, his openness, independence of intellect and integrity has meant that he has not been considered "trustworthy" for Cabinet Office. I would suggest that this is an enormous plus in his favour.
Ming as Speaker would provide a period of stability and re-assessment, as accusations of party political bias to Government or Opposition would be hard to sustain. Even if, as is possible, the Lib-Dems became the 2nd party after the Labour melt-down at the next GE. Bias towards the Opposition would be, on balance, the lesser of 2 evils than bias towards an Executive with an overwhelming majority in both Houses.
The important thing to remember is that the choice of Speaker is by Parliamentary vote. Hopefully, DC and his Executive will refuse to either nominate a candidate or state a preference. This will be a strong sign that DC is going to roll back the Brownian Doctrine of Statism and renew our hereditary freedoms.

I too do not particularly care if the next Speaker is a Conservative or not. It has to be someone whose love and respect for Parliament and its traditions is stronger than their love for their Party - whichever one it may be!

Ming has the experience, intellect and authority to do the job very well. Whether he’d want it is another matter. In many respects it seems like rather a dull job.

The House can not afford to lose the independently minded contributions to debate that John Bercow makes. His Parliamentary skills are significant, that would just not be best used in the Speaker's chair. Other far more suitable candidates were named in Jonathan Isaby's piece.

Yes we need a new Speaker.In any other profession the current situation would have meant dismissal.Why is a person unable to hold the position correctly allowed to stay?Same as the country is in disaster state thanks to this PM.He was not even selected as his Party leader.He has been the main man to cause the current financial state and he still has his job.
So Sir George Young for Speaker and David Cameron as PM.
Get the MP's to make this case and get an election sorted to try and bring back some respect for Parliament,and the nation.The general public are or have lost all respect for the state the country is now in.Action /Help now PLEASE.

I think a LibDem should have a chance - its long overdue.

Ming is one option but I have always had a high regard for Alan Beith

I can agree with most of the sentiments above about choosing on suitability for the job regardless of party. About the only name suggested above that makes me despair is the idea of professional turncoat Bercow,


Nobody has suggested Denis Skinner!

Four parts to my comment:-

1) To truly reassert the independence of Parliament I would choose Richard Shepherd - although, selfishly, I'd prefer he stayed on the Tory back benches.

2) Regardless of whether there's a convention or not, if we want to depoliticise the office again it may be worth considering a Lib Dem such as Alan Beith (my God, how it pains me to praise any one of them).

3) The more partisan of us (which normally includes me) should remember that in 92 the Major regime manoeuvred for Peter Brooke but Betty Boothroyd had enough Tory support to win

BBC - 1992

4 ) With regards to Bercow

a) What on earth has he done to achieved to merit the role apart from making Labour backbencher's lives easier? Does he have stature or great experience? Has he been a defender of the House of Commons?

b) When the nation is facing austerity and a credit crunch, should taxpayers money be used to buy sufficient cushions for him to be able to see above the heads of the parliamentary clerks in front?

What about Richard Shepherd (Aldridge Brownhills) he cant be described anything other than indpendent and believes in Parliament. The Speaker needs to believe in the independence of Parliament. Ideal choice

I would like to say party doesn't matter - it should go to a strong parliamentarian.

But following the recent leak about the 'secret meeting' I would tend to think that something that errs away from the executive would be better than something that might err towards it.

But it is for MPs to decide, hopefully there are enough MPs that put parliament before party to get the right result.

And hopefully the example that Speaker Martin has set (as a working class, chip on both shoulders, grasping, jumped up - (just like Prescott)) will not reflect on all candidates from 'normal' backgrounds.

It has to be Jeremy Clarkson or nothing !

Jeremy Clarkson for speaker NOW !!

Where's the petition.


I'd rather it went to a decent Labour, LD or Other MP, and we kept all our Parliamentary votes intact... At least until we're in government.

The House of Commons has already accepted that it is there to do little more than nod through legislation directed by Brussels, so who is the Speaker is is of little consequence.

Gorbals Mick's problem has always been that he does not have the intellect or gravitas to hold the job. And yet, if you criticise him, you are accused of being a snob! I don't recall whether Betty Boothroyd came from a working class background, but I am reasonably sure that Lord Tonypandy did and they did very well.

Also, it would be good if the new incumbent spoke something approaching the Queen's English... maybe that is being snobby, but, what the heck!!

As most sensible people have already said, competence in the role is far more important than the Party they come from. Sir Alan Haselhurst seems as good a bet as any other and Frank Field would bring a lot to the Office.

It is not an easy "ask" in the sense that the majority of politicians do tend to be egotistical and that is not required. So for example, Dennis Skinner is a deeply committed parliamentarian but also only comfortable in his self created 'role' of smart Alec so he rules himself out.

The greatest Speakers of recent times have not been 'obvious' but have grown and blossomed in the role. However, I would point out that we need to get rid of the current incompetent incumbent first.

I agree with NJR...

Labour wont replace a Speaker in a Constituency they may lose, they would'nt put up another candidate from a seat they may lose....why should we risk an unnecessary by-election...

The Lib Dems have a few candidates in seats WE COULD WIN!....and people who would make GOOD SPEAKERS...like Ming,Alan Beith etc..

Malcolm Dunn @9.20, I agree totally!

Is this a first ;)??

Posted by: pp | December 08, 2008 at 10:32

Tim. Is this posting deliberately meant to give the wrong impression about Conservative inclusion policies? The insinuation that working class folk are not up to the job of First Commoner of the Kingdom I find both repugnant and demonstrably false.

The insinuation that working class folk are not up to the job of First Commoner of the Kingdom I find both repugnant and demonstrably false.

That's the point - if you use Martin as the sole demonstration candidate then it isn't false - and as he goes on about it so much you get the feeling that he is the only one... so hopefully he hasn't ruined it for all who come from 'normal' backgrounds.

I would like to nominate Ken Clarke.

“Labour wont replace a Speaker in a Constituency they may lose, they would'nt put up another candidate from a seat they may lose....why should we risk an unnecessary by-election”

It is tradition that the main parties do not challenge the Speaker in a parliamentary election so for example if Sylvia Heal were to be the next Speaker it would actually be protecting a marginal Labour Seat or at least preventing a very Possible Tory gain. Why would there be a by-election? The Speaker could sit as a Backbencher until the next election and then be elevated. I would imagine at the General Election that Glasgow North East will be a Labour hold rather than a possible loss. So where is the problem?

In recent history if there was one Parliamentarian that people of all political persuasions and backgrounds could respect, admire and believe in it was the Speaker, regardless of the party they were originally elected to represent. This should not be turned into some sort of weapon to embarrass Labour. This is a very serious thing that the Office of Speaker is being bought into disrepute and being used for such blatant party political ends by all sides.

Boothroyd was a classic Labour Party person yet SHE WAS AN EXCELLENT Speaker - as was Viscount Tonypandy...

Personally,I think Speaker Martin simply never had the intellect nor the personality and likeability for the role - thats NOT his fault - its the fault of those that nominated him!

Sir Malcolm Rifkind would be good if for no other reason than that he has a ludicrously booming voice which he can't seem to control. He is also suitably jovial and can command people's attention.

Mrs Dale suggests a Labour Temp - Bob Marshall Andrews.

If we have to have another socialist at least lets have one who is not standing at the next election

Sally Roberts 10:04


rugfish | 10:39

A nonsensical suggestion, as you well know.

Jeremy Clarkson is earmarked for Prime Minister.

Given how cocky so many of us are being about the result of the next election, this will doubtless be a wasted point, but . . . it's in the Party's best interest that a new speaker, elected before the GE, *shouldn't* be squatting on a safe Tory seat ie wasting it come a hung parliament. In other words, for a tight contest next time, the ideal Speaker, for us, would a.) be Labour & b.) occupy a safe seat.

And as Michael Martin has amply demonstrated, the calibre of the man in the chair really doesn't matter very much. King, Lloyd and Thomas were three duds in a row, and parliament scrapped by. It'll survive, oh, Peter Kilfoyle or Andrew Mackinlay too. Our real nightmare ought to be the prospect of Speaker Davies. Quentin quite fancies himself as a parliamentarian, and what with our recent spate of pomposity, does anyone see Dave fielding a GE candidate against QD?

If there are no set conventions for choosing a Speaker why can't Betty Boothroyd be lured back?

Manuel Barrosso EU 'president' might be the best choice since our government in Brussels has no direct representative in the Provincial House of Commons.
But since he has a weak backbone he can be excused.

I have met Bob Marshall Andrews MP too, and he is quite the most impressive Labour MP, certainly on the backbenches. He has a formidable intellect combined with superb oratorical skills. In a different age he would have made a superb Speaker.

However, he is standing down in his very marginal Kent seat next time, and Brown and the Labour Whips would sooner give the Speaker's job to Alex Salmond than see B-M-A get it !

Vince Cable for Speaker. Brown would never be seen in the Chamber again....

Gorbals Martin should never have been speaker.
He has neither the intelligence or breeding.
I understand on good authority that he was the last of 13 candidates, but it was because he was a "Tony Crony" that the others were over-ruled. How about a Lib Dem this time?
Norman Lamb would be a good choice, and would help our candidate to regain North Norfolk.
In any case we need to replace the present one NOW,and certainly before the next election.

The 2008 Christmas Westminster Annual Bumper Joke Book – a stocking (and tights filler) is now available on line.

Example of this year’s fun:
A suspect was arrested suspected of stealing, as it were, intellectual property. He admitted passing the info on to an alleged fence, a Mr Blue (all references to Mr Blue hereafter are allegations).

The Fence was arrested and claimed that the info was for the use of his club; apparently the info was never discussed by his club, but was alleged to have been leaked to the local rag.

The Fence was defended by barrister Demonic Grieffe of solicitors, Grieffe, Grieffe and more Grieff, Associates of Humbugger.

Grieffe states the Police had no right to search the office of Mr Blue because they might have found something incriminating. Grieffe blamed the club president for not telling the police to get lost. The president dumped on and blamed the doorman for not telling him that the police had rang the doorbell and claimed that at the time he (the president) was upstairs collecting fares. The president, a Mr Wrecker who can trace his ancestry back to Culloden, explained to the club that it would never happen again as long as his name was err, err (hang on – he has got it written down somewhere) err Yes! Wrecker.

Demonic Grieffe entered a plea of not guilty on the grounds that it was impossible to steal intellectual property from those that did not have any intellect (as proved over the past 11 years).

Bill Cashinginonit, an unbiased friend backed him up. He is quoted as saying that Mr Blue was a father confessor in the area and many sent him details of murder. paedophilia and muggings that they had done asking for his help and advice, including parking on yellow lines and bins being emptied once a year. All this stuff was on Mr Blue’s computer and he feared for the integrity of his correspondents.

Mr David Mavis, the club bouncer, he was formerly known as the Treaty of the MassStricknin Enforcer of 1993, but now a reformed character and defender of Taking Liberties (he isn’t quite certain whose side his on regarding taking liberties) is thought to have said:
That the truth is that the protections we assumed we had for our constituents and whistleblowers are either not believed in, or are not upheld, by the authorities.

Mt Grieffe thanks the whistleblower for leaking such information that imperiled the survivial of the club (which the members have never discussed and now appear to be forgotten). Having thanked the whistleblower he now believes he should be sacked for breaking the code governing his employment.

This joke is so pompous and preposterous that it cannot possible have any connection with anyone living or thought to be having a life.

Review this joke. Last reviewed by the club and they blamed Police for no sense of humour. We recommend this Bumper Christmas Edition. All donations to Mr Wrecker. We hope he will be going soonest.

Yes probably Comstock.

I would definately agree with Mr Luff that it would be a shame to lose the contributions of John Bercow. Like him or loathe him, no one can deny that he is a fantastic parliamentary performer. For the same reasons, I think that Frank Field would be the wrong choice.

There are plenty of candidates that would make excellent Speakers, on both sides of the House. My preference would be for Sir Alan Haselhurst, who performs excellenty and fairly in his current role as deputy.

Roy. Norman Lamb would be a poor choice for exactly the reason that you state he would be a good choice... it would mean that we could NOT regain North Norfolk, as it is convention that you do not challenge the Speaker.

(plus, he is very lightweight)

London Tory - You have confirmed why BMA must be the candidate!

Kate Hoey?

One question: after eleven years during which it seems that the speaker cannot require the PM of the day to reply to proper questions put to him at PMQs, is this something that can be changed with the next speaker? Can the PM be held to account or is the current charade set to continue?

If this is the case, we should scrap PMQs and let MPs get on with some proper work.

To paraphrase Michael Martin from his acceptance speech on being made Speaker, his background should not have been a reason for him not to get the job- but his lack of intellect should have been.

Anyone who can recall some of the classic speeches of Speakers Thomas, Weatherill and Boothroyd will realise that Martin has defaced the office. His clunking, slow mo READING of his buck passing script, dictated by his mate Frank Roy MP from the Labour Whips Office, was the final straw.

Martin's elevation to the Speakership was all part of Labour's plan to neuter Parliament further.

There are at least 653 other MPs who are both brighter, and more articulate, than Michael Martin

Ratboy Bercow fails the mosts basic test, which is to possesss some moral compass. He is a ludicrous candidate. Utterly loathsome. Even Lembit Opik would bring more dignity and gravitas to the role.

Bercow is the man who put the wretch into treachery.

I'd prefer that Martin carried on until the election. He was chosen by Labour MPs who are so partisan they'd choose another Labour MP before thinking of the House as a whole. Since they chose Martin I have no confidence in the Labour members picking anyone better.

After the election Martin can go, then we can leave it to the new House to choose a decent speaker who will be minded to defend the House properly.

Posted by: grumpy old man | December 08, 2008 at 11:01

Grumpy old man,

You misunderstand me, my hope is that the incompenence of the two people mentioned is not taken as typical of people from similar backgrounds.

They display everything to reinforce any existing prejudice, and enough to create new ones. They have done members of the aspiring working class absolutely no favours at all.

They are akin forming a view on african americans by meeting Malcom X.

Ian Bennett | December 08, 2008 at 10:56
Ian I sympathise with your views but, sadly, the speaker does not resign from his constituency role thus provoking a winnable by-election. Instead, the convention is that they are returned unopposed at the next general election. For this reason we don't want the other two main parties putting up one of their MPs in a seat we might have a chance at.

Parliament and the country will need a steady pair of hands which is why I think the job should go to Hazlehurst. He's tried and tested and good.

Its sure to be 'Proud Scot'.

"Is it time for a Tory Speaker"?

Damned right it is.

What is becoming more and more obvious is that parliament - both houses - needs another period of reform. There are far too many MPs, there has been no reflection on the regional parliaments, the EU is not taken into account and the dominance of just one political party leads to matters not being properly discussed.
For starters: how about introducing a secret ballot on all Bills?

My personal choice would be Sir Alan Haselhurst, but I would be happy with a Speaker from the Loony Party as long as he or she is impartial and skilled at their job.

I wonder if anyone can tell me what voting system is now in place for electing a Speaker? When Michael Martin was chosen on 23 October 2000 (see Hansard for the lively but farcical debate), there were an unprecedented number of candidates - all the rest of whom were voted off one by one in divisions.
Sir Edward Heath, who was able to use his discretion as to what order the candidates were to be proposed and seconded, was under pressure to change the rules at the last minute but quite rightly refused as this would take considerable time and investigation.

With regards what the convention precisely is, this is partially confused because it rests on an understanding of the procedure used for installing a Speaker.

Until changes agreed in 2001 (but not yet used) the procedure was this:

* The government would table a motion to install a named MP as Speaker
* Other MPs could table an amendment to change the name
* (After a debacle in 1971 conventions were agreed that anyone proposed had to assent and have some cross party support)
* The "contested election" was the vote on the amendment. Only in 1992 did the amendment succeed, largely because many Conservative MPs felt an immediate ex Cabinet minister was inappropriate for direct elevation to the chair.
* After voting on any amendment the main motion would be passed unopposed and the candidate installed.

As Votedave notes, in 2000 fourteen candidates ran and the system couldn't easily cope. Effectively Michael Martin ran in thirteen successive elections, each time against a single alternative.

The most accurate technical summary of the convention is that the person named in the motion as tabled was always a government MP. However as there's only been one case of the amendment passing it effectively became that the Speaker always came from the government benches with the exception of 1992.

The new system adopted has introduced a series of secret ballots, with the lowest scoring candidate and/or any who get less than 5% eliminated each time, until one candidate gets an absolute majority. Once this happens (or if there's only one candidate) then a motion to elect that candidate is tabled in the Commons. (If that motion were to fail then a new set of secret ballots takes place.) If the incumbent Speaker seeks re-election after a general election then the House goes directly to the motion and only if it fails are nominations opened for the secret ballot.

We've had 10 years of New Labour's blatantly biased planted partisan man Martin, who is clearly insufficiently educated for this important position and is out of his depth. He has badly let the House down.
Ming or Frank Field for me.

Ming would be good, we don't want to giveaway assets as valuable as Clark et al.

I had a smile at the idea of good old Dennis Skinner as Speaker. He would certainly defend the rights of MPs and has the experience of Parliament having been an MP since 1970.

To me Ming Campbell or Alan Beith would be ideal candidates or if a Tory Alan Haselhurst. Patrick Cormack? Old "Mucho Pomposo" himself? Dear me no!

Peter Luff MP is a clever man. He praises Bercow when, in reality, he is opposing his candidacy.

Bercow is too arrogant, conceited and self-important to be Speaker. He has proved to be opportunistic in trimming his political views to suit his (perceived) best career interests.

I would support Ann Widdecombe's candidacy and urge her to reconsider her decision to stand down at the next election. She would be a Conservative Betty Boothroyd and that is exactly what is needed to restore public confidence in Parliament.

John Bercow has the support of all parties

Bercow disqualifies himself with his expense claims.

Isaby's view that Bercow "would in my mind be the ideal choice" for Speaker intrigues me. Could Isaby expand on Bercow's "political journey", what it entailed, what it means, and its relevance as to why Bercow is an "ideal choice".

The comments to this entry are closed.



ConHome on Twitter

    follow me on Twitter

    Conservative blogs

    Today's public spending saving

    New on other blogs

    • Receive our daily email
      Enter your details below:

    • Tracker 2
    • Extreme Tracker