Plain speaker

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The election for Speaker of the House of Commons has a reputation for being deeply arcane; and, true to that reputation, only half the candidates to succeed Betty Boothroyd have put out statements of what they would do were they to win next Monday. That is, however, a minor step forward, since in the past candidates have "emerged" unheralded from behind-the-scenes consultations. But, somewhat typically, the front-runners have decided not to participate; a stance aptly condemned by Peter Bradley MP: "If you sent United Nations observers to this election, they would declare that it wasn't free and fair."

The election for Speaker of the House of Commons has a reputation for being deeply arcane; and, true to that reputation, only half the candidates to succeed Betty Boothroyd have put out statements of what they would do were they to win next Monday. That is, however, a minor step forward, since in the past candidates have "emerged" unheralded from behind-the-scenes consultations. But, somewhat typically, the front-runners have decided not to participate; a stance aptly condemned by Peter Bradley MP: "If you sent United Nations observers to this election, they would declare that it wasn't free and fair."

But it is still a matter of interest (and entertainment) to examine the seven statements that have appeared. "Modernising" makes an inevitable early appearance, with David Clark (Lab) wanting to discard the Speaker's traditional wig, silk stockings and buckle shoes. But he is opposed by Sir Patrick Cormack (Con), who stresses the importance of traditions. John Butterfill (Con) is for shortening working hours, which is bound to prove popular with his electorate. But it is the veteran Gwyneth Dunwoody (Lab) who offers the most blatant appeal to Members' hearts: more pay and better facilities. Watch that woman.

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