James Forsyth

Beckett better than Bercow - but not by much

Beckett better than Bercow - but not by much
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When Michael Martin announced that he was stepping down as Speaker, there was a general feeling that the House needed a substantial figure to step into the job, someone who could command the respect of the House and—just as importantly—the country. Well, it looks increasingly like we are going to get Margaret Beckett.

Beckett is not the worst outcome of Monday’s Speakership election though. That would be John Bercow. Bercow has virtually no support on the Tory side and is being pushed forward by Labour MPs who rather like the idea of having a Tory Speaker who is disliked intensely by the Tories. But as Gary Gibbon reports, wiser heads are seeing the problem with this and an anti-Bercow bandwagon is beginning to roll of which Beckett is the most likely beneficiary.

Beckett is far from an ideal choice. She is hardly an inspiring figure, has not been an advocate of transparency and was a Minister until only a few weeks ago. She is also a partisan figure. But she would be better than Bercow and that might be enough to get her the job.

It is depressing that MPs haven’t taken the opportunity of the election of a new Speaker to show the public that they understand what needs to change. Instead, we have been treated to politics as usual—Labour’s Bercow mischief-making—and the politics of the lowest common denominator which increasingly looks like it will deliver the job for Beckett.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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