Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Our new Speaker

My colleague Tanya Joseph quite rightly blogs about the task confronting our new Speaker. She also reminds us that, many years ago (and before he became an MP of course) John Bercow did some work for Westminster Strategy, the first public affairs arm of Grayling. It was at a time when Mr Bercow used to get written up in some satirical magazines as a very right wing sort of chap.

When I met him at WS, it was quite clear to me he was no such thing. I cannot now recall what it was we debated one day when I suspect we were both supposed to be doing something else, but I remember the realisation that he wasn't ultra-right wing at all, and indeed that we appeared to share some markedly similar middle of the road views. And he could laugh at himself, which made a change from quite a few politicos I have met over the years.

For those reasons, I have followed his career at a distance with interest. Of course I never expected him to become Speaker, but then who would you expect to take on a role like that? Decent as she is, I am jolly glad it wasn't Margaret Beckett. I just don't see how you step out of Government and turn into the Commons Champion.

But the sight on TV last night of John Bercow in a robe made me realise not only that a few years have passed - I am not prepared to say how many! - but also that be seemed to me to become it. He's an interesting chap, someone who has thought a lot about his views and not been afraid to express them. It's going to be very tough, but the Commons needs a Speaker who can rise above the entire appalling spectacle of the last few months, and let's hope Mr Bercow will prove he is the one.

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