Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Racing Card

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Racing Card

Article excerpt

The Bet: Who will succeed Betty Boothroyd as Speaker?

Sir Alan Haselhurst  4-1
Gwyneth Dunwoody     8-1
Michael Martin      10-1
Menzies Campbell    12-1
Alan Beith          20-1
(Source: Charlie Whelan)

Trying to guess who will be the next Speaker is more difficult than naming the next Prime Minister, partly because no one will admit that he or she wants the job. Behind the scenes, there is a fierce battle going on for this job. Betty Boothroyd organised one of the most successful campaigns ever when she got the job by stitching up the Deputy Speaker, Harold Walker, who has never for given her.

You may wonder why anyone wants the job of keeping the Commons in order, but the perks make it worthwhile. You get a huge apartment under Big Ben and a six-figure salary. You also go on many foreign junkets to preach democracy. The power of the Speaker is awesome. One of Boothroyd's first acts as Speaker under a Labour government was to allow a spurious Private Notice Question, delaying Labour's first Budget in 20 years, just to show who was boss. …

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