Chorley MP Sir Lindsay Hoyle says that it will be “business as usual” as far his constituents are concerned if he is elected as the next Speaker of the House of Commons.
The bookies’ favourite to replace John Bercow in the chair says it would be a boon for the borough if he got the top job – and denied that having to resign from the Labour Party and being unable to vote in the chamber would affect how he represented the area.
“I’ll be carrying out my role exactly as I do now – I want to put Chorley first and nothing will change on that,” said Sir Lindsay, speaking after a question and answer session with pupils at Trinity Church of England Primary in Buckshaw.
“As for party politics, most people think I just do what I want anyhow – if I thought the Labour government was wrong, I would be the person that said so.
“Chorley is my home and my constituency – and the people of Chorley matter. And it’s amazing how many people here have been stopping me and asking, ‘When are you going to take over?’ That’s what has inspired me.”
One of three current deputy speakers, Sir Lindsay believes that he would be the first Speaker to herald from Lancashire – although he stresses that he is a “long way” from that point at this early stage in the campaign.
“[I would be] a Chorley lad who had made it all the way to the top – it would put Chorley on the map and hopefully open even more doors for the area.”
Sir Lindsay says that if the election for Speaker comes before the next general election, he “would have thought” that he would be unopposed in his seat by the main political parties when the nation goes to the polls, as is traditionally the case.
The Conservative Party recently made clear that it was going to break with that convention if John Bercow – a former Tory MP – were still in the chair at the time. He has said that he will stand down on 31st October or at the next general election – whichever is sooner.
Sir Lindsay, who has represented Chorley since 1997, was previously the youngest ever councillor to be elected in the borough, at the age of 22 back in 1980.
He claims that he has “a different style” to the outgoing Commons Speaker, who has attracted criticism in some quarters for his interventions, particularly in relation to Brexit.
“People have seen how I operate. My style will be about neutrality in the chair, reaching out to all parts of the chamber and making sure that all MPs have the same voice.
“I would show MPs the respect they deserve,” added Sir Lindsay, who says he will be spending the coming weeks “listening to the electorate” of 650 MPs who will ultimately decide whether this deputy becomes the top dog.
QUESTIONS FROM THE KIDS
Sir Lindsay paid a visit to Trinity Primary so that pupils could quiz him about the democratic process - and they did not disappoint, throwing the veteran MP plenty of political curve balls.
Q - What have you learned from John Bercow about how to carry out the role of Speaker?
A - “He has done a lot to make things more open and transparent. We are in a new era and we have to adapt to change.”
Q - How do you stay politically neutral as Speaker?
A - “I play it straight down the line when I’m in the Speaker’s chair - and I think that’s why I get respect. When I’m back in Chorley, the gloves are off - although sometimes you have to put politics aside to make things better.”
Q - What would you do about homelessness?
A - “It’s a blight on the country - in this day and age, making sure everybody has a roof over their head should not be impossible. I think we should pass a law that means people should not have to live on the streets.”
Q - Why are people not doing more to help the Amazon?
A - “Wealthy nations should be doing more to support Brazil - we cannot allow the destruction of the Amazon.
Q - What should be done about people who break racism laws?
A - “We all need to stand up to racism and bullying and show that we’ll not tolerate it - we are all the same, there is no difference between us.”