Week 13: Hero – Charles Walker MP

by George_East on March 29, 2015

hero_icon2This Week’s Her of the Week is Conservative MP for Broxbourne, Charles Walker MP for his role in defeating the attempted coup against the Speaker of the House

It is not often that we make Conservative MPs our Heroes of the Week. But this one is thoroughly deserved.

Last Thursday was the last day of this Parliament. Normally a day for tie up loose ends. With many Labour MPs out of London the Tories dreamt up a wheeze to get rid of John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons – who has trodden the political path from Monday Club right-winger to genuinely independent thorn in the side of the executive – everything that is that you want a Speaker to be.   The Tories have been dreaming of this for some time, but had been prevented from doing so by the Lib Dems. This all changed after John Bercow, rightly, called out Danny Alexander on the absurd abuse of the Commons, that was the ‘alternative budget’.

With both coalition parties gunning for Bercow and Labour MPs not around in numbers Michael Gove and William Hague saw their chance for an ambush. The pretext was the report of the Procedure Committee which recommended the institution of a secret ballot for selection of the Speaker in the future (ie after Bercow retires). Except this would be brought in from the first day of the new parliament (very much affecting Bercow).   On Wednesday night, with no pre-warning, the government tabled a motion to institute the secret ballot to be heard on Thursday. They also made it a three line whip for their MPs to attend.

This grubby manoeuvre worthy of a banana republic would probably have worked. That is if it hadn’t have been for an extraordinary and emotional speech from Charles Walker, who just so happens to be the Chair of the Commons Procedure Committee. He pointed out that although he had seen the Chief Whip and the Leader of the House the day before and although they must have known of their plans by then, no one had mentioned anything to him about it.   Remember it was his Committee’s report that was to provide the pretext. Walker rightly identified that he had been ‘played the fool’ and ended with the words that he would ‘rather be an honourable fool than a clever man’ – a clear dig at Hague, Gove, Osborne and the rest who had dreamt up the wheeze.

His speech provoked a standing ovation on the Labour benches and almost certainly shifted enough Tory backbench votes to make the difference. It was one of those rare occasions when a House of Commons backbencher changes the course of events through a speech in the Chamber. Indeed it was a perfect example of what the Commons should be doing, preventing the executive from emasculating the legislature so that it can be properly held to account.

For this act and for making Hague, Gove and the rest of this odious government look like the grubby power-crazed cynics that they are, Charles Walker is our Hero of the Week.

If you missed it the speech is here:

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Fionauk512 March 30, 2015 at 7:47 am

How refreshing to see a principled response, and how damning is the light thrown on the conspirators who have no shame.

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