The Speaker problem? More than 70,000 will not be able to choose Conservative, Labour or Lib Dem at general election

John Bercow
John Bercow
  • Three parties with the biggest majority in Westminster will not stand
  • Local Lib Dems have campaigned for change, but the central party has thrown out their appeals
  • Local Labour and Conservative members says that Bercow is excellent MP

More than 70,000 people will once again not be able to vote Conservative, Labour or Liberal Democrat, because their MP John Bercow is the 
Speaker of the House of Commons.

Mr Bercow’s Buckingham constituency, will not be contested by the three majority Westminster parties at May’s general election, because of a long-standing political convention.

The 2010 Buckingham constituency general election count at Aylesbury Civic Centre.John Bercow and Sally Bercow.

The 2010 Buckingham constituency general election count at Aylesbury Civic Centre.John Bercow and Sally Bercow.

After the 2010 general election Mr Bercow promised to look into ways to make the system fairer, and admitted that some of his electorate were unhappy.

Buckingham Liberal Democrats also got involved, and lobbied their central party to field a Buckingham candidate this year.

But both lines of questioning fell on deaf ears, and the status quo will remain.

On Thursday, a Conservative bid to change the rules on electing commons speakers, which would give voters the opportunity to vote in secret was rejected in the House of Commons.

We have been campaigning since Bercow became Speaker for the rules to change

Gareth Davies

The move was seen by some as an attempt to oust Mr Bercow as Speaker after the election.

Mr Bercow said: “I will remain an independent in line with the convention that the Speaker is free of party ties, both during his or her tenure and once it has come to an end.

“I promised at the time of my re-election that I would refer the matter to the appropriate Commons authority.

In fulfilling this obligation, I have corresponded with both the Deputy Prime Minister, Rt Hon Nick Clegg MP, who is the Minister responsible for political and constitutional reform, and the then chair of the Procedure Select Committee, Rt Hon Greg Knight MP.

“Partly as a result of these representations, the Procedure Committee has considered – as part of a wider report published in October 2011 – the Speaker’s Seat issue.

However, the committee concluded that “we are firmly persuaded that the advantages of the change are outweighed by the disadvantages.”

Many Buckingham constituency voters feel that by having a Speaker as their MP, they are missing out on having a full say on who gets in to Number 10.

One voter, who we agreed not to name said: “I feel disenfranchised from the voting system since we were moved from David Lidington’s constituency into John Bercow’s constituency prior to the last election.

“I had to wait several months for a reply, and eventually received one not from Cameron, but from some nameless official who sent an incoherent unreadable essay of about six pages of A4 attempting to justify the unjustifiable.”

Liberal Democrats have also spoken out about the system, which they say is unfair and will even further alienate young people.

Gareth Davies, vice chairman of the local party, said: “We haven’t named a candidate because it’s a long standing convention. We wanted it to be different this time and we have been campaigning since Bercow was appointed Speaker for the rules to change.

“The election is being held up as this great contest between David Cameron and Ed Miliband and we think it is wrong that people cannot have a say on that.

“We are told that young people are not interested in politics, but here they do not even have a say.

“76,000 people are going to be mere bystanders at this election and it is wrong.”

But Robin Stuchbury, for Buckingham’s Labour group claimed that Mr Bercow was a good MP, and that having him in situ took away a seat from the Conservatives which is a good thing.

He said: “This hasn’t been a political issue for five years so why make it one right before the election?

“You can’t complain that you have the wrong bride right before the wedding, you need to sort things like that out beforehand.”

And the constituency’s Conservative Association also came out in support for Mr Bercow, and the work he is doing in the area.

Evelyn Joy, constituency agent for the party, said: “John is the best person for the job and to have a Speaker in this electorate is an honour.

“He works very hard and we would not field a Conservative candidate against him, that rule has not changed for hundreds of years.”

The Green Party and UKIP, the two other Westminster parties, are set to field candidates against Mr Bercow as they are not part of the convention.

During the election race we will be running profiles of every candidate, so that readers can get a ballanced view as they make their all important decision.