Quentin Letts’ new novel ‘The Speaker’s Wife’, is published today. It is about Parliament and the Church of England, mainly. In the book a sly little backbencher fancies his chances of becoming Speaker of the Commons. To help him win the Chair, his supporters devise an election strategy called ‘Operation Chaise’ and it is laid out in a document which states:
“A would-be Speaker must show himself devoted to the House. He attends the start of Questions every day and adjournment debate every evening. Statements, Urgent Questions, Opposition-day debates – all attract his presence. Even Westminster Hall.
A would-be Speaker has a safe seat and can therefore afford to be magnanimous in debate. By arguing against pork-barrel issues he will present himself a politician of principle and impress the weekly columnists who deplore low populism. Immigration is a worry in his seat? He makes a speech deploring racism. It will cost him a few thousand votes but he will impress Hon Members whose political views are so much more refined.
A would-be Speaker is rude to his own frontbenchers, yet not to backbenchers on both sides. He catches the eye of those who have just spoken and nods in agreement. He may even write these MPs notes of congratulation and have them taken immediately to the recipient by the doorkeepers. He extols the ‘clarity and verve’ of plodders. They will be pathetically grateful. He tells ranters that ‘despite the false polarities of our parliamentary system and the silly convention that we should heckle one another, it must remain possible to hear a colleague on the other side of the House speak – ‘as you just did with such remarkable succinctness and courage’ – and agree with every word that is uttered’. These letters may be composed in a florid hand, in a fountain pen.
A would-be Speaker will also defend any MP who has been attacked by Grub Street. He will disdain those who ‘undermine the work we all do in this place’.”
Fiction? The book also has a sexy young Russian woman who gains a security pass to the Palace of Westminster. But of course that is an absurd fiction, as Mike Hancock will tell you. As for a colourful speaker’s wife, is that plausible?
Available on Amazon: The Speaker’s Wife