Sikh MP Parmjit Dhanda, 37, is the first Indian-origin member of the House of Commons to run for Speaker.
A Labour MP for Gloucester, announced his candidacy for the 632-year-old post with a plan to move some parliamentary business outside Westminster.
In a note sent to fellow MPs he said, “A day of adjournment debates on local issues in the regions would be top billing in regional media and give us the chance to draw crowds to Parliamentary proceedings.” He added that “I do think that the next Speaker needs to be a public figure.”
Born to a Sikh immigrant family Dhanda was a minister at the Communities Department until October last year. He rose from a working class background-- his mother was a cleaner at a hospital, and his father a lorry driver.
Upset about two members of the far-right anti-immigrants British National Party, he decided to go for the high post. “It is something that is so disturbing that I don’t want to look back at this time in history as a time when I just stood by on the sidelines and watched.”
He hoped that his appointment would discourage the BNP and inspire a new generation of people to go into politics. “I don’t look like, sound like, a typical MP let alone a Speaker of the House. I don’t speak in the traditions of parliamentary procedure, although I understand it, although my agenda is different.”
He is pledging to loosen the grip of party whips, with MPs electing heads of select committees, as well as making Parliament more family-friendly by introducing crèche facilities. Dhanda was untainted by the MPs’ expenses claims scandal.
Among others who could contest are Conservative MPs Sir George Young, John Bercow and Sir Alan Haselhurst; Labour’s Frank Field and Alan Beith and Sir Menzies Campbell from the Liberal Democrats.
Bercow and Sir George are thought to be the frontrunners.