By Tim Montgomerie
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Meanwhile, slipping under the radar amidst all the uproar, an under-reported election takes place today: For the new Lord Speaker.
Baroness Helene Hayman’s five years as first Lord Speaker have generally been seen as successful. She has performed the role with dignity, and instigated an extremely popular Lords in Schools programme, as well as performing the ceremonial role well, witness her welcome when President Obama addressed both Houses of Parliament in June.
Although there are six candidates standing for election – Lord Colwyn; Baroness D’Souza; Lord Desai; Lord Goodlad; Baroness Harris of Richmond and Lord Redesdale – it is widely felt that the job should go to a Conservative. So why are there two Conservative candidates standing? I understand that many Conservative peers felt that there should have been a primary election, allowing them to unite behind one candidate but Lord Goodlad, Chief Whip under John Major, rejected this idea and David Hunt, another Major-era minister, therefore chose not to stand.
Lord Goodlad may have the establishment vote sown up but newer members and many on the Liberal Democrat and Labour benches increasingly fancy the chances of jazz trumpeter and former dentist, Lord Colwyn, a deputy Speaker who only a few days ago looked an unlikely winner, but who is now the bookies' favourite.
With the Lord Speaker’s ceremonial role more prominent during Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee year, and with Lords Reform looming, increasing numbers of peers are feeling that a modern image is more important than ever before. Lord Goodlad will probably win but Lord Colwyn is gaining support. The vote takes place today with the result being announced on 19th. Watch this space.