The Speaker’s plans to avoid the Farage threat in Buckingham
It will not be subject to boundary reviews; it will not be affected by the ebb and flow of popular opinion, even a political landslide; and it will have no members of the general public as constituents.
Speaker Bercow plans to create the constituency of ‘St Stephen’s’, which will have only MPs as its ‘constituents’.
On the face of it, this is an audacious move to avoid a likely election defeat at the hands of Nigel Farage. By focusing on Buckingham, the Speaker’s constituency, UKIP are in with their strongest chance of winning their first Westminster seat.
And Speaker Bercow knows it.
Especially after his wife’s tirade against David Cameron, and the news that her name has been added to the approved list of candidates for the Labour Party.
There are one or two Tories in Buckingham more than a little tempted to vote Farage at the next General Election.
The problem with the idea of the constituency of St Stephen’s is that Cranmer essentially agrees with it.
It was the sort of thing he had in mind when he wrote some months ago about the Speaker’s ‘electoral immunity’.
Presently, the Speaker’s constituents usually have no choice at a general election as the other main parties traditionally do not stand against him or her (though there are precedents).
While there may be concerns over not having the Speaker accountable to the people, it must be a lesser evil than disenfranchising the Speaker’s constituents from the democratic process altogether.
The problem will be the perception of the re-emergence of the Rotten Bourough.
And precisely what the mechanism will be for appointing a new Speaker if one is despatched in the fashion of Speaker Martin. There could be quite a few entertaining by-elections in the constituency of St Stephen’s as the Speaker would be subject to the perpetual threat of ‘recall’ if he or she does not please his or her constituents – all of the time.