Monday, 1 June 2015

Maiden speeches aplenty in the Commons today - Johnson, and some W2W Stars feature

Maiden speeches in the Commons are a moment of genuine fear. Your whole parliamentary career awaits you and the House prepares to hear, and your constituents read, your Churchillian peroration for the first time. You rise expectantly as the speaker calls your name in the commons for the first time, and 8-15 minutes later you will sink to your seat very relieved it is over, and you can get on with the business of being a normal MP in the Commons.

There have been a few maiden speeches already given this parliament, on all sides, with several very good ones; but the pace goes up a notch today as there are a large many who have put in. No pressure for the new intake but one Boris Johnson, the new MP for Uxbridge has put his name down.  As an MP for a new seat (he previously represented Henley) he may make a second maiden speech. Expect the unexpected. As for myself I remember being followed by Jacob Rees Mogg, which was an experience, as Jacob spent a large part of his speech discussing Somerset fighting heroes of the past, notably Athelstan.
Most maiden speeches are not as exotic, but then few MPs are like Jacob.
The reality is that there is no protocol but most accept that you should describe your constituency to the House, and what it means to represent the constituency, reference your predecessor (even if you defeated them in a bunfight) and set out your hopes and aspirations for both your region and yourself in the Commons. My hamfisted attempt, written the night before, is here, given in the early days of the 2010 parliament:

I remember both the relief when I sat down, and that I spoke the same night as Matt Hancock, Simon Hart and Robert Buckland, all good friends, as well as the mighty Jacob later that evening. It should be remembered that it is also the only time that no one in the House of Commons will interrupt, barrack or criticise you. All new entrants savour this luxury!
Also speaking today are some of the new female intake of Conservative MPs. Two of them I know very well from Women2Win: the new MP for Lewes is Maria Caulfield, a cancer nurse who beat the supposedly unbeatable liberal Norman Baker. She was one of the stars of W2W, impressed us all and has potential to go far in the commons. Likewise the former lawyer Suella Fernandes, and the former Welsh Assembly Member Antoinette Sandbach are going to make an impression. Be gentle to them all when listening or reading their speeches for the first time. Your debut in the commons is a great experience but it is scary!