Heaven knows one shouldn't criticise a politician for being ambitious. But when Steve Richards said on the news just now that he had taken a call from John Bercow immediately after the 2005 election, asking for a meeting somewhere private, where he advised Richards that he wished to become Speaker, it became clear that Bercow's re-election as the member for Buckingham was not about representing his constituents at Westminster so much as representing himself on the greasy pole towards High Office.
You may say that the Speakership does not represent High Office, but an antique position of no real power; you may say that no one ever got to the Speaker's chair without planning and preparation; you may say that he is an improvement on the last Speaker. Nevertheless, his performance this evening, from the moment when, sat all agape on the Tory benches, he learned of his victory, to his poor, halting, somewhat smug and patronising victory speech, he struck me as less than credible. He speaks poorly, which is only forgivable if what is said is worthwhile - rather, he seemed clichéd and shallow.
The length of Bercow's first term is in the gift of Mandelson - when he withdraws support for Brown, an election will surely follow quickly. Bercow has until that election to convince Tories that he is worth his place, won as it was with the vote of the rump of the Labour party. But his Tory colleagues see him for what he is, which is a schemer and a greaser, and it is likely that the swathe of incoming Tory MPs at the next election will be broadly of like mind.
I decided against illustrating this post with a picture of the man.