Tomorrow MPs vote in the select committee chairmanship elections, always one of the more entertaining events of a new parliament. Eyes are on the Foreign Affairs and Defence select committees, where there is a feeling among many MPs that the incumbent chairs are too old, too stale, too outdated in their views and too out of touch with modern day politics.
65-year-old Julian Lewis, the current Defence committee chair, is old-fashioned both in his personal style and working methods. He doesn’t believe in email, is brusque with colleagues and at one meeting his behaviour over the agenda caused such consternation that staff were asked to leave the room. He is the Speaker’s closest friend and shares some of Bercow’s personality traits. His blinding hatred of David Cameron was petty. He will be 70 at the next election.
Crispin Blunt, the Foreign Affairs committee incumbent, aroused concerns when he demanded private investigators be brought in to find out who exposed his determination to water down criticism of the Saudis – an odd look in Britain in 2017 – and then had his report on Libya embarrassingly debunked. Blunt has been dubbed the “Corbynista candidate” by some Labour moderates who note his views align with Jezza on Israel and western foreign policy.
As the Tories lick their election wounds and discuss how to appeal to modern voters, tomorrow’s select committee elections provide a chance to see how serious they are…