I will fight for the rights of ordinary backbenchers! I make people admire this mother of all Parliaments once again! I am friendly with a sense of humour! I am professional! Each of the speeches given by the candidates for Deputy Speaker at hustings this afternoon consisted of this guff. As one candidate Gary Streeter said, this election is fought by ‘seven candidates, seven friends’. So, who is standing and who will MPs vote for?
Eleanor Laing (33 per cent chance of winning) was keen to extol her passion for Parliament, stressing the need to make the Palace of Westminster open to the public, yet ensuring it remains a place of hard work. Taking a swipe at her more ponderous opponents, Laing voiced her opinion the most important thing about aspiring to sit in the Speaker’s chair is ‘not liking the sound of your own voice’. ‘We’re in the house not for us, but for the people’, she said.
The former Health and Transport minister Simon Burns (14 per cent chance) was keen to tell everyone how qualified he was for the job — even though he’s been off the back benches for three and a half years. Sporting a dapper pair of shoes with gold buckles, Burns claimed he rule the Commons with a firm, but light touch. On his bad relations John Bercow, Burns brushed off the possibility of any potential future conflicts. ‘It is irrelevant whether I am personal friends with the speaker’, insisting he would remain professional and courteous to him. Dwarfed by his authority, perhaps, but for how long?
Brian Binley (11 per cent) was rather pleased with himself for standing. He even asked himself a question: ‘What the hell am I doing here at 71? I could be earning money out there’.