Wednesday, 9 September 2009

A New Era for Parliament?

This summer of politics may be remembered for many reasons: the MP's expenses scandal, the G20 summit in London and the continuing demise of Gordon Brown to name but a few. But what may turn out to most affect the UK parliament is the scandal involving the Speaker of the House of Commons.

As Michael Martin failed to acknowledge his responsibility, MPs on the floor of the Commons had to directly challenge the Speaker; something rarely done. Although this successfully led to Martin's resignation, like it or not, a new culture has been bred that holds the Speaker to greater accountability. Possibly more than his remit deserves.

All this has led to UKIP leader Nigel Farage challenging the new speaker John Bercow in the next general election by fighting the Buckingham constituency and early reports suggest he will do well.

Traditionally, parties do not challenge the speaker but this has already been somewhat quashed as a tradition in the past two general elections where the Scottish National Party (SNP) challenged 'The Speaker seeking re-election'.

There are certainly a lot of good arguments out there for Farage as a Speaker and the idea of having a Speaker who is independent of all the main parties is appealing. It could be said that the UKIP leader would show antipathy towards those on the left but from what I've heard from Farage I would suggest he has just as much hatred for much of the Conservative Party!

In spite of all this I hope Farage doesn't get elected. Not because I dislike the UK Independence Party but because Bercow hasn't done anything wrong in the role so far. In fact, I believe the MP for Buckingham has done a pretty good job keeping the House in order from what I saw before the summer recess. Farage's argument seems to be that Bercow himself cannot be trusted because he was embroiled in the expenses scandal but then again who wasn't. Do you think Farage would have been as white as snow?