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June 11, 2009


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I think one thing i cant do is I cant become the great speaker.

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This time it will be a secret ballot. Mo Mowlam said last time she was forced by the whips to change her support from Gwyneth Dunwoody to Michael Martin. The whips lose their control in a secret ballot. It will be a fairer reflection of the will of the House" this is good to hear
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Paul Flynn

I am sure that means something Nick Smart. I presume it means that odds should add up to 100%. This is new maths.

Nick Smart

Talk about MPs being on the take - this book has a 19% overround!

Paul Flynn

Thanks DG, that's a good practical suggestion which I will follow.However my role is very limite because it is the Council's responsibilty. I have not heard from them but I understand that a public consultation will take place. There is money available to revive and kick-start small enterpries. But the scale of this one is enormous.


I must have missed your comment on Friar's Walk Paul - the Argus has at least four pages on the issue, and they don't seem to have given it the prominence it deserves, given you're a national politian, as John Prescott would say. One correspondant (who'd clearly given a lot of thought to the matter) suggested that since this is happening all over the country, the Government could take on the projects and use them as part of a stimulus package, create jobs in construction, then about two years down the line (which is when I believe the Chancellor reckons we'll be out of the recession) when the construction is complete, create more jobs in retail and earn back some revenue from the rentals. (Then sell it, obviously - we don't want Government hanging on to aging buildings longer than necessary.)

Perhaps you would take this up, if you're not too busy. Or maybe you have some ideas of your own. Do let us know, either way.

Paul Flynn

Thanks HuwOS. You have answered RPC more effectively that I could.


Yes Paul,
Widdecombe has been on "Have I got news for you" and is therefore perfect for the role of speaker, that source has already provided a most excellent mayor for London.
On top of that she is particularly religious and apparently popular, just like Blair.

Perhaps now you will actually make a real choice for speaker instead of choosing someone just to annoy the tories, I know Paul, I know that you have given all kinds of reasons why you support Bercow, but secretly we all know your twin purpose is to annoy tories and deprive the populace of a tv star as speaker.


Mr Flynn,

You are surely aware that Bercow is favourite amongst Labour back-benchers (and front-benchers, I wouldn't be surprised) because they know his election will annoy the Conservatives; Bercow isn't exactly flavour of the month within his own party and often has been suspected of imminent defection to the Labour Party. A vote for Bercow has little or nothing to do with his suitability for the job and everything to do with inter-party bickering and one-upmanship.

Moreover, he is neither known to, let alone trusted by, the public - except, perhaps, for a faint resemblance to John Barrowman. As though that were any commendation!

The public will not forgive MPs if they elect Bercow. It will only confirm in their minds that MPs are more interested in playing silly party political games than in representing their views and addressing the democratic deficit.

On this occasion, MPs should defer to the public and give them the Speaker they prefer - Anne Widdecombe - and not just because she is known beyond the incestual halls of Westminster, but also because she will make a very good Speaker as you admit.

Moreover, she will be standing as an interim Speaker only until the next General Election, at which point a new Speaker can be elected by the new intake of MPs who will be the ones who have to live with the decision for many years.

Why should the new intake be saddled with a choice of Speaker made by a bunch of expenses-fiddlers who will shortly find themselves at the back of a dole queue?

Paul Flynn

Thank you RPC. I see nothing in what I have said that suggests that Bercow is not the best choice on his own merits - regardless of party. If party is important, he is a Tory and it is their turn.

We all have our prejudices. The majority of candidates are knights. As citizen Flynn I have not recorded their titles. Seeking and accepting honours is a sign of distorted priorities for those who would be a Speaker.

I think my description of Anne Wiiddecombe is a fair one. I applaud her stand against animal cruelty. Personally I get on very well with her and we have chatted together about my vote on 22nd. She knows my position. She is my second choice. It is an exhaustive ballot and she could do very well. She is popular with the public because of her TV celebrity status. If that was a major consuderation then Gordon Brown is doing the right thing by ennoblung Alan Sugar. Is he?

Someoine with 'clean hands' on expenses would be a good choice. Public opinion has been shaped on this by accusations in a 'politically motivated' publication of selective smears by the Daily Telegraph. While MPs have had a well justified batterring, there is also lingering resentment. Many have been accused when they has followed to the letter the system that was in place. Yes, the system invited corruption and we all should have done more to change it. Had there been an objective assessment of who are the mortal sinners, the venial sinners and the innocent, it might then be fair to classify MPs on their past conduct. That has not yet been done. MPs have been damned by the numbers of column inches devoted to them in the press. On that basis Cameron is a saint in the Telegraph and a sinner in the Mail on Sunday.

They will be judged on their strength and determination to reform. I hope to question them on that in this week's hustings. In particular I will be looking for examples of their previous reforming zeal.


It would be a foolhardy House of Commons that, having aroused public anger with the expenses scandal, continued to rub their collective nose in the dirt by engaging in party one-upmanship through electing the next Speaker purely on the basis of annoying the party opposite: i.e. the public would not take kindly to the election of John Bercow as Speaker. Especially since they have made clear (YouGov poll) that their preference is for Anne Widdecombe - an MP known to, and trusted by, the public.

MPs could do a lot worse than mollifying the public by electing Widders; and, who knows, such a choice could even be the beginning of restoring public confidence in democracy; after all, MPs would, for once, be representing their contituents' wishes instead of indulging their own bloated egos.

Moreover, Ann Widdecombe would make a very fine Speaker. She'd do a "Mary Poppins" and have the House of Commons licked into shape spit-spot, would stand no nonsense, would be a firm hand on the tiller of the wayward boat that is parliamentary procedure, and would generally be an uplifting presence in the Speaker's chair.

The election of Bercow would simply cause the public even more disillusionment (if that were possible) with politics in general and MPs in particular - they wouldn't easily forgive the blatant display of inter-party bickering that would be evidenced by dragging him to the Chair.

MPs have been presented with a golden opportunity to begin the process of redemption in the public's eyes. It would be nice to think that they had enough common sense and consideration for their country to outweigh any personal and party interest. They should take the proffered olive branch in the form of electing Anne Widdecombe to the Speakership, and in so doing begin to make amends for their grotesque display of nest-lining, vis a vis the expenses scandal, and the democratic deficit that has developed since party interest, aided and abetted by the Whips, has superceded individual conscience and constituents' wishes.


Ha ha - some trimming ? The Treasury Redbook says that 7% cuts will be needed.
Why do MP's let the Cabinet get away with this ?
The figures read out in the Commons were in nominal terms, not real terms and so represent a real cut
So, just for once, tell the electtorate the truth - bacause if I thought I was was being told the truth then I know where my vote would go - even if I did not like it
..and you never know it might go some way to restore my faith

Paul Flynn

You may be new to the blog Ben Lloyd. I have repeatedly said that John Bercow is my choice.

Paul Flynn

The Conservatives would not remove John Bercow. It has happened only once in 300 years. Bercow will be a brilliant speaker and will not commit the errors of Michael martin

George Anderton

On the subject of political betting odds, does anybody know what has happened to Mike Smithson's site?

Ben Lloyd

So you haven't really bothered to tell us who you support then? In which case, what's the point?

All you positive reviews appear to be yet another Labour lackey. Is this your way of saying you'll vote for your own party rather than who is best. Disgraceful tribalism.

In order to prove transparency, I am backing Ming who has the statemanship and honesty on expenses (http://www.mingcampbell.org.uk/2009/05/27/letter-to-local-lib-dem-members-about-expenses/) and right ideas (http://www.libdemvoice.org/commentislinkedldv-sirs-ming-alan-publish-their-speaker-manifestos-15348.html) to transform pqrliament.

George Anderton

The new speaker must command the respect of all sides of the house. John Bercow will fail to do that. If a Labour conspiracy allows him to be elected he will be removed immediately there is a new Conservative government.

Paul Flynn

I did a comment DJ to the Argus on Friar's Walk.
The blog is intended to be comments that cannot be found anywhere else.I try to avoid statements of the obvious. My view on the cancellation of Friar's Walk is the same as those of everyone else. It's a serious blow to cancel a major project at this stage. The disruption goes on without any definite signs of new development. The decisions on the project are not mine and it is up to the Council to make a decision on the future. The problem is the same that is afflicting similar projects worldwide. Little chance of a remedy until the end of the recession.

Paul Flynn

Thanks Jane. the Commons is a great place for spotting the heroes and the villains, the frauds and the saints. Bercow's campainging is respected whatever his ideology may be.


Paul, I'm disappointed by your (lack of) response to the cancellation of Friar's Walk. The building of a shopping centre may have an air of mundanity about it - it's not as esoteric as the inner workings of parliament, nor as world-shaking as foreign wars - and it's not likely to get you many soundbites in the national media - but it is a bitter blow to the aspirations of your constituents.

This is what people mean when they say politians don't care about the concerns of the man on the street.

Jane Ashby

I most certainly would vote for John Bercow. He has done marvellous work regarding children with speech and learning difficulties and has excellent communication skills. He is also a moderniser and somehow seems to be more in touch with society than some of his colleagues in the race. Please do not vote for those grandees with the title Sir. They have had their day and I am not sure I could cope with some of them becoming even more pompous! They are wonderful to listen to only but not as Speaker.

I like Margaret Beckett but feel it would be wrong for her to get the job - she came in rather late when she was not offered a Cabinet position.

I also think that the next Speaker should come from the Tory ranks. It should be someone who commands respect from all MPs as you say but also respect from the country!

Thank you for your inside knowledge. I hope your assessment is correct. I am sure it is!!!

Grant T

For some reason something is telling me the result will be a women. So either Margaret Beckett or Anne Widdecombe, I would love to see Anne as the speaker I think she would be excellent as speaker.

Why do all Labour MP's love John Bercow ??
Is it because he nearly crossed the floor a few years back? I also think the new speaker has to have whiter than whiter expenses, something which he didn't have.

Paul Flynn

Frank Field's one friend is Kate Hoey, the pro-hunting head of the Countryside Alliance. that is enought to finish his chances on the Labour side.

Paul Flynn

The odds should add up to 100%, should they KayTie. Your knowledge of betting is greater than mine. Not all candidates are certian. Some trimming will be required.

Kay Tie

Tony, this lot counts payments servicing Government debt as "public spending" so clearly it is going to rise. The DEPARTMENTAL spending is going to fall even by the cooked figures from the Treasury.


Politicians go on about 're-connecting' with the voters but as a group you continue to treat us like bloody idiots

OK, the speaker is interesting but did you hear the utter contempt from the Labour spokeman on the radio this morning. Because that is what is was ..

He clained that the Tories wanted 10% cuts in public services and that there would be no cuts in services - in fact spending will rise ..

And any GCSE maths student could tell you is utter rubbish and it an insult to the voters to try and say it as well

IF Labour ring fence the NHS and Education spending , on your own figures, there will HAVE to be cuts of between 7% and 10% in other services - thats maths for you ..

So I say again you want to re-connect with voters then TELL US THE TRUTH not a pack of lies.
Otherwise the contempt that the government demonstrates to the electorate will be reciprocated.

That spokesman was a liar and as such should be removed from office for passing on such rubbish

'No spin , just Gordon' ? what a joke ! if this is the 'new' government then watch the electorate turf Labour out for a generation

Kay Tie

Your odds don't add up to 100%.

You referred to Margaret Beckett as "Odd".

You should have mentioned that John Bercow is not squeaky clean on his own expenses.

I too am sad about the top hat. Poor collapsible top hat. Proof that Parliament was less a gentleman's club and more a nut house.

Finally: who is Frank Field's one friend?

Hogarth's Happy Hour

Very interesting "insiders" point of view. Shame that a true reformer will probably not be nominated let alone win, such as Vince Cable.

John Bercow will make a fine Speaker, but will he allow true reform? I hope so.

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