Lockwood to London, machinations begin

Parliament’s worst keep secret is out. Lockwood Smith has been appointed High Commissioner to London.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Lockwood Smith, has been appointed New Zealand’s next High Commissioner to the United Kingdom.

Prime Minister John Key announced Smith’s nomination to the position this morning.

“Lockwood Smith has had a distinguished political career and his nomination is a mark of the high esteem in which he is held,” Mr Key said.

“The nomination of Parliament’s Speaker to the role of High Commissioner emphasises the importance of relationship between New Zealand and the United Kingdom.”

Smith has held the speaker’s role since 2008. He will likely take up the appointment early next year.

He has served as a Member of Parliament since 1984, when he was elected MP for Kaipara. In 1996, he became MP for Rodney, a role he held until 2011 when he went on the National Party List.

And so the machinations begin.

As parliament rose for the summer break David Carter and his loyal band of South Island supporters have been all cock-a-hoop and telling anyone who will listen that the deal is done for Speaker. Lockwood Smith has unwisely also said in a room full of people just recently that he knows who the next Speaker will be.

This of course presumes that it is the Prime Minister who appoints the Speaker. He does not. It is an open vote in parliament.

David Carter, assisted by Bill English has been lobbying hard behind the scenes for the job of Speaker. If asked he quietly bats the question away. He has been told by the PM not to be open.

However it looks like they may have been premature in starting to talk of the deal. Word has it too that Amy Adams, another South Island MP, is set to replace Carter when he ascends the speakership. Terribly ambitious and hopelessly immodest about her ambitions she has set about gloating too.

There is a wrinkle though. Both Carter and it appears the Prime Minister aren?t aware that the vote for Speaker cannot be whipped, despite threats to do so. They are also unaware of standing orders that mean that proxies are disallowed?so whereas Carter and the PM may have believed they had 59 votes in the bag for their choice they have forgotten that some MPs may well be away when parliament resumes and the expected vote is taken.

There is certainly room for a suitable challenger to set the cat amongst the pigeons and lobby to garner the support of the Greens, Labour and NZ First. Carter cannot expect any votes from NZ First after a long running and acrimonious battle with Winston Peters over the years.

Peter Dunne can be expected to follow standing orders and John Banks has the required grit to resist attempts by the PM to try and make the vote for Speaker a supply and confidence motion?which would be laughable if it wasn?t so serious. Surely the PM won’t risk an election over the role of Speaker.

If someone can get that support, and pick up just a few National back benchers then the PM?and Carter risk a humiliation in the vote for Speaker.

Of course that all presumes that venal self interest doesn?t take hold to settle everyone down.