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Wednesday, 24 June 2009


Today at noon will not only mark the start of the weekly ritual of Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs), but will be a first test for the new Speaker of the Commons, John Bercow. How might he negotiate the minefield? What can he do to win round his already vocal critics?

There are three straightforward actions he can take in this first, brief, test of his stewardship. First and foremost, he has to be able to impose some discipline on what looks to many outsiders like a barely controlled rabble. That means the initially frequent deployment of the word “Order”, no doubt with one or more exclamation marks in pursuit.

Second, he needs to issue a token ticking off to both Pa Broon and Young Dave, to demonstrate that he is in charge – not them – and that no political stripe is immune to his rule.

Third, he can at least soften the mistrust and enmity coming his way from the Tory benches by selecting one of their most vocal number to put a question. So look for him to pick out Nadine Dorries at the first opportunity.

From little acorns, and all that.

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