Martin Bright

A Collective Sigh of Relief

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Watching Newsnight tonight it felt like a dam had broken. Three MPs from the main parties having an open discussion about the future of politics post-Speaker Martin, Jeremy Paxman relaxed and cracking jokes about the growing groundswell of support for Chris Mullin to become speaker: it was all rather extraordinary.

The three MPs, Chris Mullin, Douglas Carswell and Norman Baker were all unusually courteous and differences of opinion were argued about amicably. All very peculiar.

One thing they all agreed on was the importance of strengthening the select committee system. Actually, I think some of these committees do a very good job. But they do not have enough power and the appointment of their chairman and women still relies on party patronage. Perhaps this will change now.

People seem to forget that Gordon Brown's first promise as Prime Minister was root-and-branch constitutional reform. Whatever happened to that I wonder?