Monday, February 25, 2008

The Speaker and the whisperers

Sleazebuster extraordinaire Martin Bell explains why Common Speaker Michael Martin should resign.

You see, there are “so many controversies swirling around him that we are almost in a state of constitutional crisis”. There is a “principal charge against him” and also “a spate of allegations”. One of these, Bell gravely notes, “may or may not be a breach of the rules”.

This means that: “With every day that passes and every new scandal that is exposed, public trust in public life is eroded still further.” Therefore Martin should resign.

I remember the days when Bell was a champion of integrity in personal conduct. Perhaps he still is, but in this case he’s taking the lazy populist route of equating honour with image and acting as apologist for a media lynch mob.

Is Martin a competent Speaker? Has he behaved properly? Those are the questions that matter, but Bell shows no interest in the answers.


Liam Murray said...

I have a degree of sympathy and there is a witchhunt feel to some of the comment.

As I've said before though - there's a 'reaping what you sow' quality to some of this and I find it hard to muster too much sympathy when you consider the similar neglect for facts or pertinence on the part of Labour 10-12 years ago.

Anonymous said...

Martin Bell has never recovered from his disappointment at his failure to be re-elected as an MP in 2001 (after having promised in 1997 to serve only one term he span his later candidature by saying he meant he wouldn't stand again in Tatton). The man in the famous white suit should probably now be being looked after by people in white coats. “Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”...

Tom Freeman said...

It's actually a pity he made that one-term promise. If he'd held Tatton he would have spared us the delightful George Osborne...

Tom Freeman said...

Now I think back to 1997, I remember an early campaign clash on Knutsford Heath between Bell and the Hamiltons. Surrounded by reporters and cameras, Christine demanded that Bell accept her husband's innocence on the central cash-for-questions allegation, until he was proven guilty.

Bell, a bit taken aback, agreed.

Anonymous said...

Did she say "until" or "unless"?

Tom Freeman said...

Fair point!

She actually asked a very deft set of leading questions:

'Do you accept that a man is innocent unless proved guilty?'
'Yes, of course I do.' Bell responded.
'So you accept that my husband is innocent?'
'I think there's a lot...'
'Do you accept that my husband is innocent?'
'No - I'm not going to be facing an ambush here...let's just...let's just see...let's just see what I have... I don't know!!... I don't know!... I'm standing here because a lot of local people have asked me to stand here…and the impetus comes from local people…and let them just choose between us.'
Christine rebuked: 'I thought it came from a dinner party…in London?'
Her husband then interjected to force Bell to clarify his position: 'I would just like to say then, that you are prepared to give me the benefit of the doubt on the allegations that have been made against me?'
'Absolutely!' Bell confirmed. 'Absolutely!'

Bell later said: 'Now afterwards I thought of all the smart things I should have said and how I should have made the distinction between what he was charged with, but was not proven, and the admitted wrongdoing out there.'

Anonymous said...

Has he behaved properly?

That the political class has to ask this question goes a long way in explaining the disengagement of ordinary people from party politics.