Monday, May 18, 2009

Speaker’s cornered

It’s getting ugly.

A lot of the Tories have never much liked Michael Martin; more recently, more and more Labour backbenchers have turned against him and the Lib Dem party line is not that he should go. A no-confidence vote may loom, depending no how Commons business gets scheduled this week.

But the ferocious reaction to his ill-judged statement this afternoon surely makes his imminent departure that much likelier.

I’ve never been a great fan of him (admittedly, Betty Boothroyd was a hard act to follow), and his handling of issues such as the Damian Green police investigation and his attitude to (not) releasing information about MPs’ expenses have not gone down well.

But for me I think the last straw came when he laid into Kate Hoey last week. I’m not a great Hoey fan, either, but when the Speaker keenly wades into a parliamentary row he loses the ability to preside over the chamber. It’s as simple as that. And today he’s confirmed his desire to beat Gordon Brown to the title of Most Politically Inept Man in Westminster.

He is no longer able to do the job. He has to go.

That said, the sheer energy with which some MPs have been gunning for him since the cash-for-pretty-much-anything scandal broke does suggest that they’re engaged in some sort of displacement activity. Michael Martin didn’t force all those MPs to make all those rotten expenses claims and more than ‘the system’ did. The Daily Mash gets this right: ‘Bunch of shits turn on chief shit’.

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