Support 110 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
21 June 2009updated 06 Jul 2021 8:55am

Labour whips instruct MPs to vote for Beckett as Speaker

• Party abandons unofficial support for Bercow. • Whips' behaviour contradicts "non-partisan" pledg

By James Macintyre

Labour whips have been ringing round MPs and actively instructing them to vote Margaret Beckett for Speaker, the New Statesman has learnt. The coordinated move, which amounts to an abandonment by Labour of its unofficial support for the Tory rebel John Bercow, comes hours before the contest to replace Michael Martin on Monday.

Sources say the whips’ message is: “It doesn’t matter about not having another Labour Speaker – we need someone who will serve the party’s interests”. This contradicts the message being given out publicly by ministers, including Jack Straw on Sunday, who have emphasised the need for a “non-partisan” approach to this contest, which comes in the wake of the expenses scandal and unprecedented alienation from Westminster among the electorate.

The fact that whips are involved at all, furthermore, hugely undermines the idea that the Government has understood the need for a fresh approach to Parliament, in which MPs are empowered to be more independent from the executive. “How can you say we will have a fresh approach with this strong-arming going on,” one said.

The NS has also learnt that Mrs Beckett herself has been phoning waverers this weekend, outlining the case for electing her. One MP who will be voting for another candidate, and told Mrs Beckett so, was given the stark warning: “Well I’ve won this.”

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU

Content from our partners
<strong>What you need to know about private markets </strong>
Work isn't working: how to boost the nation's health and happiness
The dementia crisis: a call for action