Leading article: Throw open the doors for fresh air of reform

Click to follow
The Independent Online

From the Monday Club to the Speaker's chair of the House of Commons, it has been quite a journey for John Bercow. But will the Tory MP for Buckingham be the Speaker the House of Commons, in its present humiliated state, needs?

There are some reasons for hope, despite Mr Bercow becoming embroiled in the expenses scandal himself. One is that Mr Bercow is not a party grandee. What the House needs at the present moment is a dynamic Speaker, someone prepared to throw open the doors and let in the fresh air of reform.

Another cause for optimism is that Mr Bercow has given some serious thought to what he wants to do with the job. His idea of being an "ambassador" for the Commons is a decent one. The question of the new Speaker's ability to command the respect of the House is more complicated.

Mr Bercow enjoys popularity on the Labour benches, but rather less on his own and has work to do to convince his own party he will be fair. Yet there is a danger in unrealistic expectations of what the Speaker, alone, can accomplish.

It was individual MPs who over-claimed on expenses and tried to block reform. It will be for the House, as a collective body, to begin the long, slow process of regaining the public's respect.