Will Bercow still face a challenge in parliament?

He beat Farage but can he see off the Tory right?

John Bercow may have easily fought off Nigel Farage in Buckingham (he did have the safest Conservative seat in the country, after all) but it looks like he may yet face a challenge in Westminster.

The Conservative MP Nadine Dorries, an implacable opponent of Bercow, is said to be prepared to challenge his re-election as Speaker -- and it only takes one objection to trigger a formal vote.

As my colleage James Macintyre reported in his account of the right-wing plot against Bercow, Dorries has previously stated:

I for one will be studying the procedure to call a Speaker re-election . . . and will have [it] engrained on my heart [sic] ready to go when the Conservative Party take power.

I like to think that opposition MPs and the Lib Dems would prevent the unprecedented removal of a second Speaker, but should he fall, two possible replacements are under active discussion: Ming Campbell and Edward Leigh.

Leigh, the president of the 40-strong Cornerstone Group, was spotlighted by us earlier this year as one of the "ten people Dave should fear" and has long been touted by the right as an alternative Speaker. Ming, meanwhile, would be the first Liberal speaker since the Coalition Liberal John Henry Whitley, who held the post from 1921-28.

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George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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The buck doesn't stop with Grant Shapps - and probably shouldn't stop with Lord Feldman, either

The question of "who knew what, and when?" shouldn't stop with the Conservative peer.

If Grant Shapps’ enforced resignation as a minister was intended to draw a line under the Mark Clarke affair, it has had the reverse effect. Attention is now shifting to Lord Feldman, who was joint chair during Shapps’  tenure at the top of CCHQ.  It is not just the allegations of sexual harrassment, bullying, and extortion against Mark Clarke, but the question of who knew what, and when.

Although Shapps’ resignation letter says that “the buck” stops with him, his allies are privately furious at his de facto sacking, and they are pointing the finger at Feldman. They point out that not only was Feldman the senior partner on paper, but when the rewards for the unexpected election victory were handed out, it was Feldman who was held up as the key man, while Shapps was given what they see as a relatively lowly position in the Department for International Development.  Yet Feldman is still in post while Shapps was effectively forced out by David Cameron. Once again, says one, “the PM’s mates are protected, the rest of us shafted”.

As Simon Walters reports in this morning’s Mail on Sunday, the focus is turning onto Feldman, while Paul Goodman, the editor of the influential grassroots website ConservativeHome has piled further pressure on the peer by calling for him to go.

But even Feldman’s resignation is unlikely to be the end of the matter. Although the scope of the allegations against Clarke were unknown to many, questions about his behaviour were widespread, and fears about the conduct of elections in the party’s youth wing are also longstanding. Shortly after the 2010 election, Conservative student activists told me they’d cheered when Sadiq Khan defeated Clarke in Tooting, while a group of Conservative staffers were said to be part of the “Six per cent club” – they wanted a swing big enough for a Tory majority, but too small for Clarke to win his seat. The viciousness of Conservative Future’s internal elections is sufficiently well-known, meanwhile, to be a repeated refrain among defenders of the notoriously opaque democratic process in Labour Students, with supporters of a one member one vote system asked if they would risk elections as vicious as those in their Tory equivalent.

Just as it seems unlikely that Feldman remained ignorant of allegations against Clarke if Shapps knew, it feels untenable to argue that Clarke’s defeat could be cheered by both student Conservatives and Tory staffers and the unpleasantness of the party’s internal election sufficiently well-known by its opponents, without coming across the desk of Conservative politicians above even the chair of CCHQ’s paygrade.

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.