Bronwyn lucky she was spared the medieval fate of Speakers

FEDERAL Parliament's temporary Speaker Bronwyn Bishop should at least pretend to be happy about losing the job.

Pretending is all part of what Speakers do.

For an MP whose extra duties are mostly chairing meetings and visiting the Governor General, real expenses are little more than limo hire.

Except in dire emergency or really bad traffic, helicopters should not come into it at all.

In the old Game of Thrones era, from which our modern political institutions evolved, Speakers were only relieved of their responsibilities by execution.

MPs were really hostages and if their decisions displeased the King, off came their heads.

If they displeased the barons back home, same thing when they reported back during the Parliamentary recess.

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Caught between lethal rocks and dangerous hard places, MPs quickly learnt to blame others, giving us another important democratic institution, the lying politician.

The Division, in which MPs have to stand up and be counted, with their votes and names recorded, was an early attempt at accountability.

The rush of MPs trying to leave the room whenever a Division was called led to the tradition of locking them in - closing and barring the doors (which still happens in symbolic form today).

But someone still had to take the news to the King, arguably the most dangerous job even in that dangerous world.

If the King didn't like it, "off with 'is 'ead."

The only "choppers" they experienced were executioners and the only travel perk a forced march to Death Row.

These days, with travel perks and all, newly elected Speakers have to pretend to struggle (but no-one thinks they mean it), when escorted to the chair by the Prime Minister and Opposition leader.

Originally, there was no need to pretend. It was a death sentence. Bronwyn Bishop doesn't know how lucky she is.