Belfast Telegraph

Monday 20 October 2014

Beckett ‘touted’ for Speaker role

Labour whips have been accused of running a covert campaign to elect Margaret Beckett today as the third successive Speaker drawn from the party's ranks.

The former Foreign Secretary goes into the election — conducted by secret ballot — with a narrow lead over her main rivals, the former Conservative Cabinet minister Sir George Young and the Tory backbencher John Bercow.

Ten candidates — seven Tory, two Labour and one Liberal Democrat — have put themselves forward for today's elections to replace Michael Martin, who resigned after criticism of his handling of the expenses crisis. The winner will face a daunting task in helping to restore the shattered reputation of the Commons.

Mrs Beckett's surprise candidacy, announced just days after she was sacked as a minister by Gordon Brown, has rapidly gathered momentum to the point where she has passed Mr Bercow to become the front-runner.

But her surge has provoked a backlash among both Tory and Labour MPs who claimed her campaign was being privately orchestrated by Labour whips, who also successfully lobbied for Mr Martin nine years ago.

The Labour MP Stephen Pound predicted that Mrs Beckett would win, but protested that the party whips were “touting” her for the position.

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Latest News

Latest Sport

Latest Showbiz