The importance of the Speaker

John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons, has now annouced by the 31 October he will be the ex Speaker.

I wonder whether this will affect Andrea Leadsom’s plan to put up a candidiate in his seat.

Although I hold no brief for Ms Leadsom it does seem to me it is another instance of a broken democracy – in that constituents in the speaker’s seat are disenfranchised for a decade and have to rely on other MP’s to battle on their behalf. It would surely be more logical to appoint a speaker for 5 years say, and hold a by-election in his or her constituency.

But of course we know Leadsom is really appalled that Bercow has stood up for Parliament against the governments of which she has been a member.

In fact I suggest that that was and is, the Speaker’s essential task, which is to ensure that the Government – ie the Executive – is held to account by the Legislature. He or she has to be the Paliamentary backbenchers’ champion.

It is increasingly obvious that the British constitution is very dependant on what the historian, Peter Hennessy calls the ‘good chaps‘ theory of government. Today’s government is distinctly not controlled by good chaps. Thus the need for people like Bercow, who have the will to push convention hard and tweak and distinguish precedent in order to ensure that fairness does result. Although many think a written constitution would be better, to me there is no reason why the current system should not work.

The common law is, after all, founded on this system of thought.

But, certainly the new Speaker will require a proper understanding of the task.

At least the current Speaker, in leaving on October 31, will ensure that the current minority government will have very little or even no, say in the selection of the MP’s who have so far put themselves forward:  Lindsay Hoyle,  Harriet Harman,  Chris Bryant, Eleanor Laing, Edward Leigh and Henry Bellingham.

Let us hope they all have the required courage.

Because with the still unresolved inherent incompatibility of advisory referendums and representative democracy and also with the difficulty of the ‘constitutional’ monarchy itself they will certainly need it.

And our stable society may well depend on it…

 

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