Pushed - or Pulled?
19 Jul 2001
After the controversy surrounding the election of a Speaker to succeed Betty Boothroyd last year, there was some relief when the House was spared a re-run as the new Parliament assembled following the 2001 General Election.

Tam Dalyell (the new "Father of the House", succeeding Sir Edward Heath in this role) took the chair and - as runner up in the last Speaker election - I was pleased to be able to move the motion that Michael Martin should again take the chair. My speech is reported in a News item elsewhere at this site.

In one of those British conventions that so baffles foreign - and let it be said some British - visitors to Westminster, Mr Speaker Martin was then ceremoniously "dragged to the Chair". This recalls the days when to be Speaker of the Commons might be a rather dangerous occupation, should Parliament and the Monarch be at odds with each other. On this occasion, given the rather constricted passage to the Chair, I elected to push rather than pull!

The picture is by courtesy of Deryc Sands, editor (and chief photographer!) of the Palace of Westminster Staff News magazine. The Speaker was dragged to the Chair by Ann Keen MP (to his right) and Sir George (behind him).
 
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