Widdecombe makes her bid to become Speaker
Her stopgap candidacy could appeal as MPs jostle for backing
Sunday 24 May 2009
Ann Widdecombe is preparing her bid to succeed Michael Martin as Speaker of the House of Commons, after fellow MPs have urged her to throw her hat into the ring.
The veteran Tory MP told The Independent on Sunday that she would be willing to help rescue Parliament from the chaos caused by the expenses furore, as a stopgap candidate until the next general election.
Ms Widdecombe, who has already announced that she will be standing down from her Maidstone and the Weald seat at the next election, said the expenses system needed to be "much tighter" in future.
She said: "I may yet be a candidate. I have been heartened by the number of people who have encouraged me in this idea. I might be prepared to do it as an interim, but I am not running for Parliament next time."
News of another potential candidate came as it emerged that the front-runner to succeed Mr Martin has vociferously supported pay rises for MPs – and claimed that they should be paid as much as family doctors and council chiefs.
John Bercow, who circulated a manifesto to MPs within hours of Mr Martin's decision to stand down last week, argued for a "significant" pay increase during the last review of MPs' salaries carried out by the Senior Salaries Review Body (SSRB).
The Tory MP for Buckingham complained it was "perverse" that parliamentary pay rates had fallen behind occupations with which they had been compared in the past. In a letter to the SSRB in December 2006, he wrote: "I suggest [MPs'] responsibilities are, in terms of breadth, scope and contact with the public, compatible with those of a GP or the chief executive of a medium-sized local authority.
"The use of such comparators would point to a significant increase in remuneration for MPs."
Mr Bercow, formerly a right-wing student activist, emerged as the early front-runner to succeed Mr Martin when he pledged to champion reforms to Britain's "broken" Parliament. He warned that British politics was entering "deeply dangerous territory", which would encourage extremists.
Championed as a "compromise candidate" by many MPs, Mr Bercow has moved closer to the centre ground of politics in recent years, and accepted Gordon Brown's invitation to pilot a report into children with learning difficulties.
While this has made him more acceptable to Labour MPs, he has become unpopular with many party members, who see him as disloyal.
The Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, in an interview with the IoS, refused to explicitly back either Sir Menzies Campbell or Sir Alan Beith, the two possible candidates for Speaker from his party.
"I don't think there should be a Lib Dem candidate, actually," he said. "I am genuinely going to vote for the person I think is going to be the most relentless zealot for reform. I am not necessarily going to vote for a candidate from my own party. It really would be a huge mistake for Parliament now to just fall back and have a tedious block tribal vote on this."
Mr Clegg also ruled out the entry of the Lib Dem Treasury spokesman Vince Cable, saying: "Vince quite rightly says he wants to be a player. He doesn't want to be a referee. He's not going to stand. Vince and I want to be players in changing Britain."
- 1 Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Pro-Russian rebel 'admits to shooting down plane'
- 3 Israel-Gaza conflict: The myth of Hamas’s human shields
- 5 Dutch paedophile club to fight their ban at the European Court of Human Rights
Lana Del Rey: 'I have slept with a lot of guys in the industry'
Peaches Geldof cause of death: 'Heroin addict' socialite had taken fatal dose of drug, inquest concludes
Peaches Geldof inquest: Tragic final moments of socialite's life reveal she lied to husband about failed heroin tests
Israel-Gaza conflict: The myth of Hamas’s human shields
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Was a Russian-made missile really parked in this quiet square?
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains
£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...
£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...
£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...
£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...