On Monday 27th April 1992 the House of Commons elected its first woman Speaker, Betty Boothroyd.
I was a rare government Minister voting for a Labour Speaker. I did so because I thought it time a good woman candidate should have the job after 700 years of men, and thought it important that Labour held a great office of state again after 13 years in the wilderness.
The mood was strange. Many of my Ministerial colleagues were buoyed up by the fourth election victory in a row, and had not detected the feelings of unease and unhappiness on the doorsteps. They did not seem to grasp that the Conservatives won the 1992 election despite the background and the ERM policy, not because of it.It seemed to me it would have been wrong to have flaunted the narrow victory by using the majority to have another Conservative Speaker, especially if that Speaker had been a Cabinet member in the recent past in the same administration that he would need to preside over.
Enough of my backbench colleagues took the same view, so Betty was elected easily.She proved to be a good Speaker, who brought a fresh approach to the job and was widely liked and respected on all sides of the House.
About John RedwoodJohn Redwood has been the Member of Parliament for Wokingham since 1987. First attending Kent College, Canterbury, he graduated from Magdalen College, and has a DPhil from All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.
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