Leading article: Reform for the wrong reasons

Related Topics

The speakership of the House of Commons is normally a job for life.

But it might not be in future thanks to David Cameron. Usually the Speaker is re-elected after each general election through a conventional Commons vote. Re-election is generally a formality.

But as we report today, the Prime Minister has given the green light for Conservative MPs on the Commons Procedure Committee to push for a secret ballot after the next election on whether or not to re-elect the Speaker. Mr Cameron will present this as an act of modernisation, pointing out that the heads of Commons select committees are already elected by secret ballot. But few doubt that the real intention is to dislodge the present occupant of the Speaker's chair: John Bercow.

Mr Bercow is a polarising figure. Before his election, in June 2009, he went on a political journey from the far right of the Conservative party to the modernising left. At one point he was believed to be on the verge of defecting to Labour. That got up the nose of some right-wing Conservatives. Mr Bercow also won election, after the departure of Michael Martin, by attracting the support of Labour members. Many Tories have never forgiven him for that.

Some MPs also privately argue that Mr Bercow lacks the necessary authority to command the House. Others complain about the outspokenness of his wife, a Labour supporter. Yet though there has been plenty of sniping, Mr Bercow's critics have not been able to point to anything in particular that he has done wrong. And he is not responsible for his wife's views. There have been grumblings that the Speaker has shown favouritism to Labour MPs. That is a serious charge. The Speaker has to be scrupulously impartial. Yet there has never been anything to back these claims up. Mr Bercow's enemies seem determined to find bias where none exists.

There might or might not be a case for reforming the rules of the House of Commons. But that case needs to be made on its merits. Reform should not be driven by personal vendettas or old grudges.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal  

What is 4Chan? And why does it threaten women like Emma Watson?

Memphis Barker
Chuka Umunna was elected MP for Streatham in 2010  

Could flirty Chuka Umunna be worth a punt for Labour’s top job?

Matthew Norman
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits