Douglas Carswell for Speaker
It is only because of his dogged determination, his noble tenacity, his self-sacrificial campaign for accountability and his desire to restore honour and integrity to Parliament that we have witnessed the ejection of only the second Speaker of the House of Commons in Parliament’s long history. Any who reflect upon the first occasion in 1695 will hear the name of Speaker Trevor, but those who exposed and deposed him are long-forgotten; shrouded in the remoteness of yesteryear. But Douglas Carswell will long be remembered as a true Whig who sought to restore the sovereignty of Parliament; a noble Roundhead who confronted the courtly fashions of a cavalier rump of self-serving politicians; and a radical reformer with the virtue and zeal of Josiah.
Douglas Carswell has only been in Parliament since 2005. In just four years he has achieved more than the vast majority achieve in forty. His passion to restore honour and integrity to Parliament has not been pursued for selfish ends: indeed, David Cameron informed him that, as a consequence of his political beliefs on European Union, he would never serve on the Conservative Party’s front bench. And neither has Mr Carswell pursued his quests for party political purposes: he defies the party whip when he needs to, preferring to prioritise the interests of his constituents. In short, Douglas Carswell is an independently-minded democrat and a true servant of the people. He may be a ‘maverick’ or a whip’s nightmare, but he is a politician of conviction and Parliament needs more of them.
So Cranmer is bemused that all the emerging lists being drawn up of those who may succeed Speaker Martin exclude the name of Douglas Carswell. It is unthinkable that any politician who has indulged in excess or supped with the devil in defrauding the taxpayer could possibly be elected to the Speaker’s Chair. And that rules out many of those names presently being bandied about. Most are utter dullards in any case. The thought of Alans Beith or Haselhurst becoming Speaker will only perpetuate the appearance of a parliament on mogadon. John Bercow is utterly sullied, not to mention odious, and Sir Menzies Campbell could never embody what can only be achieved by a generational paradigm shift. Cranmer would be delighted to see Frank Field installed, but it is unlikely that a third successive Labour MP might be elected to the Chair, and the Prime Minister loathes him in any case.
So Cranmer wonders why no-one has thought of Speaker Carswell. He is a manifest moderniser and a man of action, scrupulous in his expenses, untainted by scandal, untarnished by excess, liberated from partisan squabbles, unblemished in record, distinguished in service, and is a man of unimpeachable integrity, honesty and conviction.
Cranmer would have only two conditions: firstly, that Speaker Carswell restore the wig to the pate. One then ceases to talk to the man, or chat with a mate, but instead addresses the office which possesses a visible authority. And secondly, he must assert the sovereignty of Parliament. The solution to the present crisis is not to create yet a further quango to dictate regulations to which Parliament would be subject: one might as well go the whole hog and delegate the task to Brussels. Such a body could only serve to further emasculate the Mother of Parliaments. It is unacceptable that a prime minister as weak as Gordon Brown should be making proposals which would be binding upon all future parliaments, for that itself would be unconstitutional.
If Speaker Carswell were to embrace these caveats (and Cranmer has no doubt about the second), then there is no doubting he is the man for the job. And when one remembers how David Cameron emerged as leader of the Conservative Party completely out of the blue, while the ‘big names’ were the principal focus of the media (pace ‘The Spectator’), one might consider that Mr Carswell has every chance of achieving a similar coup. Cranmer shall be writing to him with this proposal, and shall let communicants and readers know of his response.
UPDATE (25 May 2009)
Cranmer has received an email from Mr Carswell. It reads:
Thanks so much for your email and your kind blog - I really do value your support.
I hope that the fall of Mr Speaker will give rise to reform; we urgently need to change the way Parliament holds those with power to account. Even more important, we need to change the way we decide who gets to sit in Parliament in the first place.
This is an agenda for radical change that I'm keen to push forward.
While flattered by your suggestion that I should be Speaker, I don't think it would be good for either me or Parliament for me to hold such a post.
I'd not be able to drive through the full range of reforms that I'd like to see if I was to sit in the Speaker's chair. (In addition, I'd almost certainly have to stop blogging!)
There are other candidates for the role of Speaker who would be able to push through some of the much needed reforms. Watch this space, but I suspect we might see some interesting candidates for the role who have yet to emerge.
Change is coming to Westminster - and the election of a new Speaker is only the beginning of the changes we need to make.
Keep up the good work!
PS. I should mention that my real political ambition is to be Britain's last Minister for Europe.