The race of the year, at least for political hacks everywhere, is that for the Speakership of the House of Commons. I find the candidates an uninspiring bunch but I thought i would have a go at ranking them in order of preference. Having watched the hustings yesterday I feel a little depressed about the prospect for reform.
10 - Sir George Young - A likely winner but lacks any spark and seems to set himself out only because he came so close and lost last time round.
9 - Ann Widdecombe - The popular choice down the Dog n' Duck but her voice sends a shiver down my spine, plus she only wants the job for a year.
8 - Sir Michael Lord - Who? Has potential but again lacks zeal.
7 - Parmjit Dhanda - Complete outsider and probably a no hoper but he is engaging and at least seems to understand the need for reform. But appears to be in support of 'fixing' selections in favour of women and ethnic minorities.
6 - Margaret Beckett - I have always had a lot of time for Margaret but she has very little chance in this race and offered little fresh perspective.
5 - Sir Patrick Cormack - Has the presence to be speaker but again seems to favour the status quo and would act as a traditionalist if elected.
4 - Sir Alan Haselhurst - Experienced and has a track record of being a moderate Tory, i would imagine that he would have the support of the whole house but was caught up in the expenses row.
3 - Richard Shepherd - The local choice, he is the MP for near by Aldridge-Brownhills, has the past of bit of a Tory rebel, speaks with authority but again is a little short on radicalism.
2 - John Bercow - The Labour choice, but can he carry the Tories with him? Seems a little unreliable but at least he seems to be taking the right approach to the job i.e great change is needed
1 - Sir Alan Beith - Has experience and a track record of radicalism. He will have support from across the house. whilst I suspect Bercow will win I think that would be a mistake given Beith's record and his knowledge of the Commons. Much as it pains me to support a Liberal he is at least a man of integrity who 'gets' the problems facing our most important national institution.
OSCOTT SCHOOLS OPENING LATEST
20 hours ago