Although I can’t say I agree with his choice, Steve Richards makes a strong case* for John Bercow becoming the next Speaker in today’s Independent. The passage that struck me the most, though, was this:
“The next Speaker should do away with the costumes and the rituals, make the language and the proceedings more straightforward, give media interviews when Parliament itself is the issue, put the case for politics and the Commons around the country and by personifying a modern approach put pressure on the party leaders to make their moves too. I have never understood why the Speaker should not give interviews, an elusiveness that makes the Commons seem more distant than it is. Even Bob Dylan gives the occasional interview these days. Aloofness is not an option when most public figures are available around the clock.”
To my mind, Richards is spot on. If the next Speaker is to help heal the trust deficit that’s developed between voters and then political class – as he should – then he necessarily needs to present a more public face; to become the intermediary between Parliament and the people. This is why events such as yesterday’s candidate hustings – although no-one gave a especially impressive performance, and it was poorly attended by other MPs – should be welcomed. You can watch highlights of them here.
* As does ConHome’s Jonathan Isaby. Read his Bercow pitch here.