Vote Bercow for a real reformer

He is the most progressive candidate in the race-a genuine reformer.

He is a white, male, Conservative MP, once so right-wing that he chaired the “immigration and repatriation committee” of the extremist Monday Club.

Oh, and he’s our choice for Speaker. But before you throw your magazine against the wall, hear us out. The Tory John Bercow is, curiously, the most progressive candidate in the race – a genuine reformer, unafraid of challenging the status quo.

The backbencher, who in 2002 told his own party it was “racist, sexist, homophobic and anti-youth”, has proved himself the most independent-minded of all the ten candidates. State-educated, and someone who sends his own children to state schools, he is no longer regarded as “one of us” by his party colleagues. Appalled at his marriage in 2002 to “that woman” Sally Illman, a Labour activist, Tory MPs have looked on in horror as he has emerged as the unlikely front-runner – initially highlighted in this magazine even before he had gained the support of roughly 200 Labour MPs. Other candidates such as Margaret Beckett may be more experienced, but, in this particular election, freshness is what matters. And at a time when the legislature needs strengthening against an almighty executive, a nonconformist, anti-Establishment backbencher is what we need.

The son of a minicab driver, Bercow seeks to be the face of a parliament urgently in need of modernisation. He is the clean-break candidate. Members from all sides should support him.

This article first appeared in the 22 June 2009 issue of the New Statesman, Iran