Peter Hoskin

Field declares his interest in the Speaker’s job

Field declares his interest in the Speaker's job
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Seems like the CoffeeHousers' choice for the Speakership is thinking about taking on the job after all.  Here's the headline-grabbing snippet from Frank Field's article in the Telegraph today:

"The next Speaker will only be the most powerful in our history if he or she is elected on a programme that points to how we can best shape the next phase of our Parliamentary development. I have been asked whether I will throw my hat into the ring. I am thinking about that, as I accept there may be too many colleagues on my own side who would block any such possibility.

I am spending the next 10 days or so developing the details of a programme which lays the basis for transforming the contract between voters and Parliament, and the House of Commons and the Government. I shall be happy to support anybody who is more likely than me to drive through such a programme of reform. I will make an announcement on whether I am a candidate after we return from the Parliamentary holidays at the beginning of June."

Aside from the will-he-won't-he speculation, it's worth thinking about some of the points Field raises later in the article.  In particular, he suggests there should be some degree of "public involvement" in the election of the next Speaker.  He doesn't specify exactly what that should be - beyond politicians paying closer-than-usual attention to the views expressed in "media polls" - but it's hard to disagree with the broad thrust of his argument.  Quite simply: if our political class is to close the trust deficit, then they need to pick a Speaker whom the public has confidence in.

Field won't be thinking of it this way, but "public involvement" may also be the best way of landing him the job.  David Cameron quoting one of the Birkenhead MP's attacks on the Government in PMQs yesterday will have reminded the Labour benches why they're generally wary of Field.  Yet the public share no such qualms.  And - who knows? - if they express their views loudly and unequivocally enough, then the House may be left with no choice but to pick the candidate with the reforming zeal necessary to clear up this mess.