11 May 2005

Order! Order!

Switched on BBC Parliament to watch the new Parliament being sworn in, and the election of the Speaker of the House of Commons. According to parliament.uk, the Speaker does not campaign on party issues when seeking re-election at the GE, a point that Alex Salmond drew attention to when referring to Michael Martin's overwhelming majority in Glasgow North (ex-Springburn). I wonder why a constituency would re-elect their MP if he/she is Speaker, as it seems that the Speaker does not vote on motions (no data on theyworkforyou.com), and has to resign from his party when elected as Speaker.

It seems a lonely job, as the Speaker has to "keep apart from old party colleagues or any one group or interest and does not, for instance, frequent the Commons dining rooms or bars". It's not a job without dangers either, as Geoff Hoon pointed out. According to the factsheet, nine Speakers have died a violent death in office since 1399 (1 murdered, 1 killed in battle, and 7 beheaded). There's an in-depth wiki entry, chock full of interesting trivia, like the following:

Taken from the Wikipedia entry for Speaker of the British House of Commons
In General Elections, it is customary for the Speaker to stand without party affiliation. Since parties began being listed on ballot papers, the Speaker's affiliation is shown as "Speaker seeking re-election." In the past few decades, the Conservatives have not stood against Speakers seeking re-election, regardless of their previous political affiliation. Labour and the Liberal Democrats have stood against ex-Conservative Speakers, but not against ex-Labour ones. Most recently, in 2001 and 2005, the only major party to oppose the ex-Labour Speaker Michael Martin was the Scottish National Party.


Stuart Dickson said...


That should be "ex-Springburn".

Springbank is a famous, and a very expensive, malt whisky!

bramble said...

Thanks for letting me know. I've changed it now. How embarrassing; must have been my subconscious mind dying for a dram. ;)