BORROWED TIMESPEAKER John Bercow should enjoy his luxurious apartment at the Houses of Parliament in the coming parliamentary term. It looks like it could be his last chance.

Tory MPs, many of whom despise the right-on reformed right-winger, are poised to oust him from the chair after the election, replacing him with Labour's Frank Field. Arch Bercow-hater Nadine Dorries MP insisted last week that stories putting this about in the press were all so much fiction, before then promptly standing the whole thing up in her blog. "If Bercow survives the General Election, the first business to be undertaken once the House sits is his re-election, which is usually just an academic process. Within this process is the opportunity for backbenchers to shout 'NO'. I have no idea if it has ever happened before; however, I am quite sure if Bercow is in the chair it may happen this time", she declares. Good to know that a new Tory government will begin with some traditional Tory in-fighting.


AMID talk of narrowing poll leads and hung parliaments, there were hopes in Labour's high command that the New Year would see the Conservative lead wilting. Forget it. Polly Toynbee, the Guardian's influential columnist, yesterday pronounced Labour dead. "Cancel new year, put back the clocks and forget the fireworks ... the Labour party is sledging down a black run, eyes tight shut, the only certainty the electoral wall at the bottom of the hill. In five months David Cameron will be prime minister and Gordon Brown will be toast." Ouch.


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ALEX Salmond, experienced punter that he is, will doubtless be pouring over the odds this New Year break for some decent bets. Ladbrokes are now offering 10-1 on the First Minister managing to hold a referendum on independence in 2010, as he has pledged to do. The First Minister has beaten the odds before, but surely this time even he won't be tempted into a flutter. For the record, 10-1 is also the odds being offered for the remarriage of Peter Andre and Jordan – surely a more likely prospect.


DAFTEST reveller of the New Year award goes to one young man in Glasgow who decided to head out in the sub-zero temperatures dressed in a pair of shorts and a Hawaiian T-shirt. Police were alerted when CCTV pictures showed the shivering man at around 2am waiting for his taxi to arrive. Taxi? On New Year's Eve? Perhaps he wasn't so daft after all. The police bundled him into the back of their warm car and took him home.


FINALLY, Drumlanrig's top three outside political bets for 2010. 1. Jon Cruddas becomes the new Labour leader. 2. Vince Cable is named chancellor as part of a Tory-led national government. 3. After Labour, the Lib Dems and the Greens force out the SNP by voting against the budget, Margo MacDonald becomes First Minister.