Leading article: The task for the next Speaker

Share
Related Topics

One thing that Members of Parliament cannot complain about today when they gather to choose the next Speaker of the House of Commons is a lack of choice. The 10 candidates run the gamut of backgrounds and outlooks.

There is the Conservative John Bercow who has made a remarkable journey from the hard right of his party to the progressive left. There is the young Labour MP Parmjit Dhanda, who, though little known before he threw his hat into the ring, has impressed many. There is a selection of experienced backbenchers, Sir Patrick Cormack, Sir George Young, Sir Alan Beith and Ann Widdecombe. The veteran former minister Margaret Beckett is in the race too and performing strongly.

Questions, of varying degrees of seriousness, have been raised about the expenses claims of some of these candidates. MPs will also need to weigh up the fact that several candidates served on the Commons Commission, the authority which tried to block the publication of MPs' expenses, when making their choice.

But, expenses aside, there are certain things that all MPs need to keep in the forefront of their minds today. There are certain attributes that the new Speaker simply must have to be a success. He or she must, first, be capable of restoring the authority of the office. Second, he or she needs to understand that the Speaker cannot behave like a shop steward for MPs, but must be prepared to discipline members when necessary. Finally, the new Speaker must be a reformer, prepared to overhaul the rules and customs that have been found lacking. Without these abilities, there is little hope that the new Speaker will restore the public trust in Parliament which has been so disastrously undermined in recent weeks.

The unrepentant tone adopted by Michael Martin in an interview at the weekend shows why he was such an inadequate Speaker. MPs should look for a candidate who seems to have thoroughly learnt the lessons of Mr Martin's failure.

Under new rules, the Speaker is being elected through a secret ballot. MPs need to make full use of that freedom. They must put party considerations aside and vote for the best woman or man for the job.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Call Handler

£14500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a Sales Ca...

Recruitment Genius: Support Worker

£14560 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company offers unique pers...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Zoe Sugg, aka Zoella, with her boyfriend, fellow vlogger Alfie Deyes  

What the advertising world can learn from Zoella's gang

Danny Rogers
Rachel Reeves is the shadow Work and Pensions Secretary  

What are we voting for? No one knows

Stefano Hatfield
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor