Will this be the election’s most interesting battle-ground?

Will this be the election’s most interesting battle-ground?

What if an “independent” Tory fought Bercow?

One feature of the week that I’ve found shocking and unexpected has been the venom from many parts of the Tory party over the man who was elected speaker of the commons on Monday, John Bercow.

I was no fan of the Buckingham MP but I made damn sure in my betting that I was covered on a Bercow victory even getting 4/1 on him while the first round votes were being counted.

But the reaction of people like Nadine, Quentin Letts, Iain Dale, and contributors to Tory blogs has been far more antagonistic than anything I could have predicted. It’s almost been on a par with the bile that came out over Edward Heath when the former Tory PM died.

Enter therefore the ever enterprising Shadsy of Ladbrokes who never misses an opportunity to tempt punters into placing bets with the firm. Within minutes of the Bercow victory Ladbrokes was offering 4/1 that Bercow will be out as speaker before the end of 2010.

This has been followed up with a new market – on who’ll win Bercow’s Buckingham seat at the general election. The prices are John Bercow 1/8, anybody else 9/2.

I thought that the idea of a Tory response could be dismissed until I read the following by Fraser Nelson in the print edition of the Spectator.

“….on the issue of the Speaker, at least, the Conservatives are ill-inclined to accept defeat. Anger on the Conservative benches has hardly dissipated, and the initial mutterings about deposing Mr Bercow in due course are already taking shape into a more organised, discreet plan of action. Traditionally, no party fields a candidate against the Speaker in his or her seat. But now that Mr Bercow has offered himself to Labour as a willing agent to irritate his own party, might an ‘independent Conservative’ stand against him in Buckingham? ‘Don’t think we wouldn’t try to arrange something like that,’ says a shadow cabinet member…”

And if that did happen what would be the outcome. Could the sitting speaker really be ousted? I don’t think that in the grand scheme of things this would be good for the Tories.

The Tory reaction so far has been over-the-top, class-ridden and with a touch of anti-semitism – a possible reminder of how the “nasty party” used to be seen.

My guess is that the fuss will blow over and I for one am not tempted by the bet. But others might be.

For the record the notional 2005 Buckingham result was CON 58%: LAB 20%: LD 19%: OTH 3%

Mike Smithson

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