How many John Bercows will there be in the next month?

How many John Bercows will there be in the next month?


Is the next Speaker market one to keep out of?

Late last night the maverick MP for Buckingham, John Bercow, moved into the favourite slot in the next speaker betting – the third such change during the day.

No doubt in the month to come other names will emerge and fade and a lot of punters, I believe, are going to be tempted into bets that they will come to regret.

Remember that what’s crazy is that under the new rules for the election nominations only have to be finalised on the day of the vote itself. So it’s likely that we won’t know the full list of runners until that morning. Then the voting will be held in secret which is going to make it even harder to come to a firm view.

We’ve learned before with MP secret ballots that it can be hard to read. You can’t even believe what MPs say. Remember the first Tory leadership vote in October 2005. The then front runner, David Davis, got fewer votes in the secret ballot than those Tory MPs who had gone public to say they were supporting him.

John Bercow is the flavour of the last few hours because the idea that Labour MPs would choose the one Tory who would p*ss off Cameron’s party more than anybody else is quite appealing. But how long will this scenario last?

The thing against Bercow most of all is his age. He was born in 1963 and is just too young. The house, in my view, is not going to choose someone in their mid-40s because they could be lumbered with him/her for decades. They’ve gone through the agonies of Martin and the prospect that they could make a second mistake will move the thinking in favour of someone who is older and looks like a safe pair of hands.

I’ve got three bets on and I’m going to keep out of any further activity until it starts to become clearer. The only winners in this race will be the bookies.

This month’s ICM poll: One or two people, including Nick Sparrow the boss of the firm, have contacted me to ask why we didn’t cover the May survey for the Guardian. The answers is that we did – it came out during our long outage on Monday evening and was featured on PB Channel 2.

Mike Smithson

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