A last-ditch move to unseat the Speaker -- and an odd last day for William Hague.

The Conservatives tried to spring a trap as the Coalition Parliament came to an end, in a manner than ended up infuriating many of the party's own backbenchers.

It also saw William Hague's Parliamentary career end in manner some have described as "grubby".

Last night, hours after many MPs had departed Westminster for their constituencies, the Government announced a last-minute motion, to impose a secret ballot in the re-election of John Bercow as Speaker after the General Election.

The intent was clear. Many Conservatives have done nothing to hide their disdain for Mr Bercow, and their desire to replace him.

They see him as partisan, and arrogant. But his supporters call him the most reforming Speaker in decades, who has opened up Parliament, dragging ministers to the House to respond to urgent questions.

Critics say the move has the Prime Minister's fingerprints all over it -- but he was missing from the chamber.

And in his absence the fire turned on William Hague, praised on all sides as a superlative parliamentarian, perhaps the greatest dispatch box performer of his generation.

On his last day in the Commons, he had to wear a very brave face as MPs on all sides lamented the circumstances of his final performance.

In the end, it was the backbenchers he championed that saved Speaker Bercow. 

The seemingly underhand method of this attempt to unseat him annoyed as many on the government benches as the opposition, uniting left-wing Labour MPs with the most right-leaning Tory backbenchers.

And after all that, it failed. The Speaker is safer now than he was 24 hours ago. William Hague's record in Parliament -- admired hugely by all sides for his skill at the dispatch box -- inevitably damaged by his role in the failed coup.

One more thing: as we lurch towards an election, with questions about tax, public spending and the future of the NHS looming large, many voters may wonder what on earth possessed their representatives to spend their last day in the Commons debating such a bizarre issue.