Well, the news that Sir Menzies Campbell is lobbying to be made Speaker – as
revealed by Iain Dale last night – certainly adds a dash of spice to proceedings. But I’d
still expect John Bercow to comfortably survive any re-election vote today. On paper, all the arithmetic works in his favour. And there’s a sense that many Tory backbenchers are holding
their fire for bigger battles with the party leadership ahead.
But does Bercow deserve to stay? I must admit, I’m rather ambivalent about the issue: I didn’t really want him as Speaker, but I didn’t really not want him as Speaker either. And after
his solid enough first year in the Speaker’s chair, my thinking remains more or less the same now. Sure, there has been the occasional dodgy moment. But he’s brought a vigour and
forthrightness to the role that was lacking under his predecessor, and seems to have pushed reform where he can.
There’s little doubting that the reform of Parliament can go much further and much faster. A lot is expected of Bercow here. But you wonder how much he could really have achieved
under a dying Brown premiership which didn’t even mention expenses in its final Queen’s speech. No, if he gets through today, the real test of the Speaker will be how he works alongside the
new order – and whether Parliament looks any different in a few months or years time.