You can't taste victory until it's served to you.

In the New Statesman yesterday it was reported that the Labour whips had been instructing Labour MPs to vote for Margeret Beckett. In fact, Beckett herself had rung a few MPs herself. One of these told her he would not wish to vote for her. Beckett’s reply was simply: “Well, I’ve won this.”

Mrs Beckett may be left only with a strongly enforced moral: never claim premature victory. In fact, don’t even think victory until you hear your name alongside the majority vote.

Today was, of course a major milestone for many Labour MPs. It was probably the first time any of them had voted for a Conservative!

But either way, congratulations and a stint at the Commons bar is in order for the newly elected Speaker, John Bercow.


What the papers/blogs say: Speaker Election

Great defender of the people, The Daily Telegraph:

“Enter Speaker Bercow, the ultimate red Tory. So rapidly has he moved from Left to Right that he may soon be whistling the Internationale while laying flowers on Karl Marx’s grave. John Bercow has led a lacklustre field in calling for an upheaval of parliamentary procedure. He is the outsider, the risky choice, with some claim to be a people’s Speaker.

Yet he is also a creature of the system, voted in by Labour MPs backing the man they call “The Tory” because his accession would so discomfit his party. Whether the choice of Mr Bercow is an enlightened move, or merely a poke in the eye for David Cameron, has yet to be tested.”

Ooh, not bitter in any way are we?

Lefty rag, the Guardian:

“John Bercow, winning out because Labour MPs thought he would infuriate an incoming Conservative government. Bercow is, of course, a Tory MP himself, but has travelled from the far right of the Tory party to a social democratic position. When he said, on taking the Speaker’s chair, that he was going to cast aside all his political views, the Commons fell about, because he has had a lot of different ones.

Most of the Tory MPs I’ve spoken to recently were plumping for an “ABB” candidate – anyone but Bercow. The running joke within his own party is that someone had mistakenly added the last two letters to his surname.

The “Tory turncoat upstart” is much disliked on his own side of the house: his great dilemma now is that to succeed as a reforming Speaker he is going to have to make himself more disliked, not less. He has talked the talk well enough, about cleaning up the Commons and making a clean break with the past. But persuading MPs that they really do need to change their ways is not going to be easy. Despite the appalling press coverage, the public fury and now the police investigations into their expenses, too many MPs remain unapologetic about a system which has clearly failed. Without the respect of the Tory benches, Bercow will find it hard to deliver reform.

Translation: he irks the Telegraph reading Etonians. For which we praise him.

The ever partial Daily Mail:

“There he stood in the big green Chair, puffed up like an amphibian that had scoffed too many vol au vents. ‘My first thought at this time,’ he said from Parliament’s bully pulpit, ‘is, as you will understand, of…’ He was going to mention his wife but at this point a female voice from the Tory benches shouted: ‘Your wages.’

The same female voice – Nadine Dorries? – heckled the Father of the House when he announced Mr Bercow’s ‘election as Speaker’. The voice cried: ‘As a Labour Speaker!’

Rancour, partisanship, a figure whose political philosophy dodges round the place like a bouncy ball: yes, folks, the House of cheats and nodding oil derricks just got its perfect Speaker. They went and did the impossible. They voted for someone who could be even worse than Gorbals Mick!”

Characteristically, the Daily Mail has been ever impartial and balanced.

The blogsphere has it’s own opinions always. As far as I could tell, Bercow was very unpopular with Iain Dale and Guido/Paul Staines. Guido will at least be rich(er)

“Unless the LibDems en masse back Sir George Young, it is going to be Bercow. Labour will stick it to the Tories, there is no chance they will suffer an old Etonian Speaker and the prospect of an old Etonian PM. At least Guido will be a few hundred quid richer, if not happier…”

None too happy Guido? Well, with all the smears against Bercow I’m not exactly surprised. But enjoy your riches anyway.

Liberal Conspiracy is jubilant at having proved both Iain Dale and Guido wrong:

“Sunny adds: I’m pleased for two reasons. First – Bercow was the rare sane voice on the Tory side on the HFE bill last year. Second, because it looks like all that frantic briefing against Bercow by Nadine Dorries MP, Iain Dale and Guido Fawkes had no impact and perhaps even strengthened him. Brilliant result.”

LabourList, rather predictably, are seeing this is a grand oppertunity for Labour MPs to be bold:

“I just hope our Labour MPs feel the same way. Whilst many Tory backbenchers were visibly displeased at his election, I believe it represents an important opportunity for the Parliamentary Labour Party. Push Bercow to be bold: be vocal in letting him know he has your support to carry through radical change over the next 12 months. Only by pressing him for fundamental reforms will the PLP expose the Conservative Party for what it really is: elitist, reactionary and deeply adverse to anything other than cosmetic tweaking.

Already we are starting to see some of the Old Blue colours seeping back, as evidenced by the mealy-mouthed mutterings this morning vowing to unseat Bercow after the next Election. Put concerted pressure on Bercow to act and act quickly, not to score points or call his bluff but because you mean it. Only then will the Tories be flushed out into the open and exposed for what they truly are.

It’s an old truism that if you love something, let it go and it will come back to you. During what little remains of this Parliament, I would urge our Labour MPs to have the courage to let go. Think big; propose what may feel like outrageously bold reforms in order to stimulate debate and change, rather than remaining fixated on your own election. The path is there for you to lead the way. If you do so, I believe you will be pleasantly surprised. Electoral success, the main preoccupation of so many for so long, may just well follow in your wake.”