Why I’ve lobbied my MP over the choice of Speaker

In the past it’s never really occurred to me to lobby my MP about who they were going to support in a contest for Speaker of the House of Commons. I’ve seen those contests as largely internal affairs, with MPs knowing the candidates and their likely ability to do their job far better than me, and with the choice having only a limited impact on life outside the Commons itself.

This time, though, matters are clearly different. The MySociety team has put together an excellent three-point manifesto, which Speaker candidates are being asked to back:

1. Voters have the right to know in detail about the money that is spent to support MPs and run Parliament, and in similar detail how the decisions to spend that money are settled upon.

2. Bills being considered must be published online in a much better way than they are now, as the Free Our Bills campaign has been suggesting for some time.

3. The Internet is not a threat to a renewal in our democracy, it is one of its best hopes. Parliament should appoint a senior officer with direct working experience of the power of the Internet who reports directly to the Speaker, and who will help Parliament adapt to a new era of transparency and effectiveness.

There’s certainly more to being a successful Speaker than those three points, but it’s hard to see how a Speaker who doesn’t push all three will end up being a success, particularly in the current political climate.

Several would-be Speakers have aleady committed in public to backing these pledges, though not all of them. (Good to see that, amongst others, both Alan Beith and Ming Campbell have backed them.) And that’s why I’ve written to my MP urging him only to support someone who has backed them. You can do so yourself too very easily by following the information and link on the MySociety page.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds and Parliament.

One Comment

  • I strongly support the pledge and will be lobbying my MP, but I think it misses the core function of the speaker; that of deciding who gets to speak in the House of Commons and what gets discussed – the powers of the chair.

    The mystical process of selection of amendments, questions and debates takes place very much behind closed doors, is hugely discretionary and not open to challenge. Hardly a system that should be at the core of a transparent democracy?

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