Speaker election: Harriet Harman pledges to champion women and diversity – and “an end to shouting down and finger jabbing”

Katherine Johnston (02 November, 2019) Politics

MP's will vote on Monday

31615Harriet Harman

On Monday Harriet Harman will make her pitch to become the next Speaker of the House of Commons.

By the end of the day, MPs will have decided who will succeed outgoing John Bercow.

Will it be bookies’ favourite MP Sir Lindsay Hoyle, or will the Camberwell and Peckham MP become the second woman Speaker in 600 years?

Harman has batted away criticisms from sections of her own constituency party that her seat is too affected by chronic housing shortages, child poverty, and knife crime – including a series of murders – to have an MP as Speaker.

Upon launching her campaign, she told the News her constituents wanted, more than ever, for parliament and our democracy to be defended, including those dismayed by Johnson’s decision to prorogue parliament.

Harman – the longest serving woman MP – has also vowed to champion women MPs and stop parliament from returning to an ‘old boys club’.

Last week, Harman responded to proposals from the Good Parliament Report, which highlighted the importance of the Speaker, and pledged, if chosen, that she would champion women and promote diversity in the house.

Commitments Harman has publicly made include the following:

  • Make sure MPs and their constituencies are entitled to an equal hearing, arguing “there is no such thing as a ‘senior parliamentarian’ just as there is no such thing as a ‘junior constituency'”
  • Build consensus in the house and agree MPs conduct toward each other must improve – “there should be an end to shouting down and finger jabbing”
  • Call in social media companies that fail to take action against users who threaten and intimidate MPs
  • Make parliament and a parliamentary career fully accessible to people with disabilities – “the new building and the restored palace must be to the highest standards of accessibility, but progress cannot wait until then”

The Speaker is elected through a secret ballot, due to be held this Monday, November 4.

Candidates will first hand in their nominations in the morning, listing the MPs who back their proposal.

In the afternoon, the candidates – numbering eight so far – deliver their five-minute pitch.

MPs hold a series of voting rounds until the winning candidate gains more than 50 per cent of the vote, or is the only candidate left.

The result will be announced the same day.

Harman is currently the second-favourite behind fellow Labour politician, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, current Deputy Speaker and MP for Chorley.

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