Monday, April 22, 2013

Poll : Which Presiding Officer has been best?

Bit of a random one, this, but I've been thinking about how the reputation of Commons Speakers at Westminster has so rarely matched up to my own assessment. For example, Betty Boothroyd was treated by all sides with something approaching adulation, but I thought she was a fairly poor Speaker in a lot of ways. She had a very "macho" attitude (odd for the first woman to hold the position), and on one occasion reacted to an attempt to shout down Simon Hughes with the words "oh spit it out, man, there isn't going to be quiet". Her rulings were hopelessly inconsistent, and often seemed to be based more on what mood she was in than on the parliamentary rulebook. And that's before we even come on to her meltdown during Michael Mates' resignation statement.

So that's the (very roundabout) inspiration for today's poll. Holyrood has now had four Presiding Officers - which do you think has been the best? The voting form can be found at the top of the sidebar.

UPDATE : Apologies, but I've had to abandon the poll. There was some kind of technical fault - to begin with votes weren't being recorded at all, and then once they were recorded they started disappearing again! For what it's worth, George Reid appeared to be the most popular Presiding Officer, with Lord "just call me Sir David" Steel firmly in bottom place.


  1. Maybe BB thought that she had to be tougher than a man to do what was perceived to be a man's job, in the same way that Thatcher was seen to be the hardest man in the cabinet, and, I'm told, Golda Meir was more macho in her dealings that many another Israeli pms.

    I kinda liked Boothroyd, but that said, I've never thought much of Westminster POs, except, why they allow all the shouting and bawling is beyond me.

    It's such a waste of expensive time.

    I think if I were their PO I'd close the place and suspend their pay till they behaved like adults, in a place of work, doing a job for which they are more than adequately paid.

    Given the disastrous laws they pass this would save us money in more than one way.

    As for the Holyrood ones, I reckon they are a bit better. I'd like to see them control the leaders better at FMQs. By the time Davidson has finished her question, I've forgotten what day it is, or why I switched on in the first place. Lord, that woman could bore for Scotland. And Lamont isn't much better; in fact given the constant whine in her voice that would frighten the mice, she might even be judged to be worse, unless of course you were looking for a mouse trap.

  2. Yes, I agree that Holyrood Presiding Officers have tended to be better than their Westminster counterparts. The difference in quality between George Reid and Michael Martin was almost embarrassing.

    Unfortunately I've had to abandon the poll because of a technical fault!