Lindsay Hoyle, the MP for Chorley and the bookmakers’ favourite for the Speakership, has been elected by MPs after four rounds of voting, having led at every stage of the contest.
What does it mean for the role of the Speaker? One of Hoyle’s strengths as far as MPs were concerned was that we have a pretty good idea of what he will be like in the Speaker’s chair day to day, because he has served as Deputy Speaker for nine years. But what we don’t know is how he will handle big decisions and how he will run parliament away from the chair.
With the exception of Meg Hillier, who ran on a brave and frank pitch that directly criticised the failure of MPs to get to tackle credible accusations of bullying and sexual harassment; and Harriet Harman, who ran explicitly as the continuity candidate, all of the other candidates to make it to the contest proper were running as “John Bercow – but not like that”. They had all publicly said that they would have made the same decisions as the Speaker as far as the big, vote-shaking outcomes in the House were concerned – but all made it clear they would be neutral, cordial and above the fight. In other words, that they would emulate Bercow, the friend of the backbencher, but break away from Bercow, the frequently combative and outspoken man. But to be frank, not all of the candidates running did so entirely sincerely and none of the MPs tonight know for sure just how much change, and just how much continuity, they are getting.
Not that it may matter: Bercow’s distinctiveness was in part down to him and in part because for eight of the ten years he served as Speaker, the governing party had no majority. Most MPs who voted tonight expect that the House Hoyle serves will have a comfortable Conservative majority in it. His era will, as a result, be very different from that of Bercow’s.