Like my colleague Stephen Glenn, I think Margaret Beckett is eminently unsuitable to be the next Speaker of the House of Commons.
There are two basic reasons why she shouldn't be Speaker. Firstly, she's always been first and foremost a partisan Labour figure - always has been, always will be. She's always been slavishly loyal to whatever the prevailing orthodoxy has been in the Labour Party. She was a Bennite when that was fashionable, before evolving into a loyal deputy to John Smith, then becoming a Blairite and eventually serving willingly under Gordon Brown. What makes anyone think she'd be any different if elected Speaker?
And secondly, can anyone really see Beckett standing up for Parliament against the executive? Nope, me neither. She would be a tool of the Government, not of the Commons. That's the last thing the Commons needs at the moment.
There are several decent candidates to succeed the execrable Michael Martin: Richard Shepherd, Alan Beith and George Young would all be very good Speakers. I just hope MPs have the sense to elect one of them, rather than Margaret Beckett, who would be an appallingly bad choice.
A walk through Montpelier, Bristol
2 weeks ago