Sunday, 24 February 2008

The First Commoner

The Speaker of the House of Commons is First Commoner of the land and is not normally a controversial figure. However, the current incumbent is under attack over various expenses issues. He has not broken any rules, but the rules look more generous than those under which many ordinary commoners have to operate. It's a tricky issue when MPs' expenses are under scrutiny with the Speaker playing a leading role.

Some of the friends of 'Gorbals Mick' are arguing that it's a revival of class war by private school educated individuals who went to Oxbridge, aided and abetted by the right-wing press south of the border. Certainly there were those who were unhappy when the usual succession rule was broken when there were two Labour speakers in succession.

There is no shortage of candidates to replace the Speaker, including the rather earnest former politics lecturer and one time Liberal deputy leader, Alan Beith. However, there is no procedure to remove the Speaker before the next general election. If he doesn't go by then, 'Mr Speaker Seeking Re-Election' could find himself facing the 'Man in the White Suit', anti-sleaze campaigner Martin Bell.

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