To those who don’t follow closely what happens in the Westminster Village, the idea of Chris Bryant as a traditionalist candidate for the Speakership takes getting used to. But so he is.
The Rhondda MP wants “a Speaker is completely fair and unbiased; a Speaker who is the umpire and not a player; a Speaker who has no favourites and whose only prejudice is in favour of backbenchers; a Speaker who is authoritative but will never bully a colleague from the Chair; a Speaker who only speaks when necessary.”
Today, the Daily Telegraph reports that he wants to discourage MPs from extensively consulting their mobile phones in the Chamber, would publish lists of MPs who wanted to speak in the Chamber so more junior MPs do not have to wait for hours, bar clapping and ensure that Prime Minister’s Questions takes its allotted time only.
The terms of Bryant’s candidacy are further evidence, were any needed, that ConservativeHome is not alone in believing that Gollum’s – sorry, John Bercow’s – custodianship of the Ring – sorry, term in the Speaker’s Chair – has been a form of revenge on the Commons, his colleagues and the constitution for the personal inadequacies which God saw fit to grant him. Natascha Engel lists the complete charge-sheet.
There is no form book for elections to the Speaker’s Chair, and ConservativeHome doesn’t know which candidates are best placed. But while it would be no bad thing to have a Tory Speaker (Bercow is not a Conservative), party politics shouldn’t be the deciding factor today.
In our view, MPs should vote for any of the candidates who will work to repair the damage that the present Speaker has done. These include Eleanor Laing, the best-placed Tory candidate; Lindsay Hoyle, who as Deputy Speaker understands what needs to be put right, Edward Leigh, Shailesh Vara and Bryant himself.
As for Gollum, we hope he is translated not to the Lords, but to the nothingness that should justly await him – i.e: the international speaking circuit or, if that’s considered too mild a punishment, Reality TV.