MPs last night elected Conservative John Bercow as Speaker of the House of Commons. The Speaker wields considerable parliamentary power: deciding who gets to speak in debates and when, and in deciding which amendments get tabled and in which order. As we saw in last year’s HEFA debacle, the order and timing of amendments can be critical in determining the outcome of a parliamentary debate (although the Speaker is supposed to be impartial).
What we know about Bercow: he’s a social liberal, and one of the few outspoken Tory pro-choice MPs (and possibly the only outspoken male one – he spoke convincingly at a campaign meeting for Abortion Rights I attended last year); he’s rumoured to have considered ‘crossing the floor’ (defecting to the Labour party); and the Conservatives are not happy about his election. The Daily Mail’s ‘Black Dog’ political columnist calls him the leader of the party’s ‘pro-ethnic and progay’ wing, although he has apparently grown out of some quite dubious political views he held when he was a student. And he’s the first Jewish person to be elected Speaker. More on Bercow here (and pretty much everywhere in the news today).