Many Liberal Democrats in and around Parliament have distinctly mixed views about John Bercow. Support for his (mostly fruitless) attempts to get MPs at PMQs behaving more like, well…, Members of Parliament than like tanked up football fans. Support too for his efforts to put Parliament back at the centre of political debate by making the order of business more flexible in the face of the news.
But also frequent anger at the way in which he usually epitomises old-style Parliamentarianism, as if politics is still about just two parties. Speaker Bercow’s reforming zeal in other areas has all but disappeared when it comes to modernising Parliamentary procedure to reflect multi-party coalition times.
The five way and seven way TV debates during the 2015 general election will highlight this contrast sharply – between a multiparty political reality and the ossified idea that Parliamentary business, and PMQs above all, should still be structured around just two parties.
A reforming Speaker will watch the TV debates, see the difference from how Parliament is run and conclude it’s Parliament, not the broadcasters, which has got its format wrong.