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Friday, January 09, 2009

Will it be Ming versus Beith for the Speaker's Chair?

This morning's Times speculates that Michael Martin will step down as Speaker of the House of Commons within a matter of months and that Sir Menzies Campbell is in prime position to take his place.

The paper says that Labour realises that it will not be possible to get a third Labour speaker past the House of Commons and is looking for a compromise candidate to prevent the Tories taking the position. Stephen Tall on Liberal Democrat Voice reported last October that the last Liberal MP to be Speaker was the Coalition Liberal John Henry Whitley (1921-28).

It will not be plain sailing though as this time there will be a secret ballot and a number of Liberal Democrat MPs believe that Sir Alan Beith, with his constitutional affairs background as chairman of the Justice Committee, is a strong contender.

Let us hope that when they do hold the election the alternative vote method of proportional representation is used. That way we may well get the first Liberal Democrat speaker for eighty years.
If this is true (and God knows why it has to be Lib Dem but there you are!), Campbell would be totally unnacceptable.

As a former party Leader, he is too partisan and could not do the job impartially in any sense at all.

So, if it has to be a Lib Dem, it has to be Alan Beith - remember Beith is also a Welsh speaker (pardon the pun!)

Here's one for a pub quiz, who was the last Welsh speaking Speaker?
Speaker Selwyn Lloyd was not noticeably partisan, even though he had been Foreign Secretary in a Conservative administration. Might he, by any chance, have been a Welsh speaker?

Liberal Democrats are a party of fairness, so Ming can be trusted to be impartial should he allow his name to go forward. (SWMBO's views will be crucial, though.)

But if we had to sacrifice one of our number, Sir Alan would be the most appropriate. He would have been an excellent party leader and I feel his talents have been wasted in recent years. The Speakership would crown his parliamentary career and also be of great value to the House during the turbulent few years to come.
AV is not a form of proportional representation; you can't have proportions of one person!

It's a preferential system with transferable votes, but it's not proportional
And there was me thinking I had anorak-proofed this post. My understanding is that STV needs to have multiple vacancies to work and that where there is only one vacancy then the form of preferential voting used is called AV or the Alternative Voting method.
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