Simon Carr:

The Sketch: Democratic elections can leave you with a pretty mixed bag

Share
Related Topics

The voting is complete, the chairs of the select committees are in. Perhaps Tony Blair was right and democracy really is "a universal human value", it's reached the House of Commons. The whips used to choose the composition of the committees, and the members then used to elect their chair, as juries do. Appointment was a power of patronage jealously held by the whips. Robin Cook tried to override it and failed – and so did Jack Straw. In the last days of the old government, a small number of crowd-pleasing changes were put through to "give power back to Parliament", and this was one. The results are, as you'd expect, a mixed bag.

John Whittingdale kept the chair of the Culture Committee. He's a mild-mannered right-winger who sounds like a noisy Geoffrey Howe. He ran the committee very decently. There were those extraordinary meetings over the News of the World phone-tapping; we can look forward to more brave Murdoch-baiting.

Bernard Jenkin has the Public Administration Committee, that will suit him. He is as independent-minded as Tony Wright's reputation – but probably has the finishing power to push logic to a useful conclusion. Christopher Chope lost out, which is a pity because he has a powerful way of asking a question. Tim Yeo did well, switching from Environmental Audit to Energy and Climate Change. James Arbuthnot held on to Defence, any director would cast him for it, what with his grave presence. Though he'll no longer have that turncoat minister Quentin Davies to play with (he went to the Lords).

Joan Walley beat Barry Gardiner, that must be demoralising for the beavered ex-minister. The Political and Constitutional Reform Committee was a disappointment for Fiona Mactaggart – as for the rest of us. She has developed a barking sort of heckle in the House, as if she has possessed herself of the wandering, restless spirit of Vera Baird. Instead, the chair went to that waxwork of gloomy self-importance, Graham Allen. It'll keep political and constitutional reform off the agenda.

Keith Vaz kept the Home Affairs Committee. There's nothing to say about that. A Muslim member who backed 42-day detention without trial. Margaret Hodge is the chair of the Public Accounts Committee. Maybe because she's rich MPs think she understands money. It's hard to imagine the whips would have given this most important opposition chair to Mrs Hodge. Mind you, she was no worse than the other candidates.

Richard Ottaway took Foreign Affairs from Sir John Stanley. Perhaps Sir John came across too much as a 19th-century hanging judge – but it's the latter you really want in the chair. Yet more surprisingly, amiable Andrew Tyrie won the chair of the Treasury Committee, beating the dusty but formidable Michael Fallon. There must have been an invisible team at work, organising the electorate. Democracy is so unfair.

twitter.com/simonsketch

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Energy Markets Analyst

£400000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Energy Markets An...

Junior Web Analyst – West Sussex – Up to £35k DOE

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

Nursery Manager

£22000 - £23000 per annum: Randstad Education Bristol: We are currently recrui...

Web Analyst – Permanent – Up to £40k - London

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Personal Finance Editor: Cutting out the middle man could spell disaster for employees and consumers alike

Simon Read
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch  

Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes tell you what to think. Don't let them

Memphis Barker
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week