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The position of Mr. Speaker

with 2 comments

Speaker, Michael Martin“Gorbals Mick” will be safe

Most of the broadsheets today are increasing the pressure on Mr. Speaker, Michael Martin to resign following the swift departure of Mike Granatt, his chief aide. With continued coverage of his own expenses and those incurred by his wife “Gorbals Mick” must be feeling a little uncomfortable as parliamentarians return to the House this week. However, despite a complaint to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards over Mrs. Martin’s taxi bills I still fail to detect sufficient rebellion amongst MPs of all parties to have Mr. Speaker removed from office. As far as I am aware there is no parliamentary mechanism for removing a Speaker during mid term either.

Such a move would be almost unprecedented and the worst that Shadow Home Secretary David Davies would say on the matter was;

“Clearly, he has got problems. The House of Commons needs to be much more transparent.”

Herein lies the root problem, just how transparent do MPs wish to be? So far Mr. Martin appears to be doing his level best to protect MPs interests from the growing clamour of greater public inspection, having appointed a committee of MPs to review their own expenses, rather than find an independent body to judge the issue.

The Daily Telegraph says this;

Despite concerns Mr Martin had become mired in the expenses scandal, MPs were accused of throwing up “a wall of silence” around him, with few prepared to speak out because of long-standing tradition that the Speaker should not be criticised. In addition, they rely on him to call on them to speak in Commons debates.

Martin Bell, the anti-sleaze campaigner and former independent MP, said: “He is protected by a wall of silence. MPs can talk about anything, except their views about the Speaker. They do not speak up and we know there is widespread disquiet on both sides of the House.”

Unfortunately the man in the white suit probably knows that the numbers do not add up to much and the groundswell of MPs opinion will mean little just yet. Mick Martin will more than likely stay in position until the next election. He has probably been one of the least effective Speakers of the post war years with many accusations of him leaning towards the government benches as MPs try to “catch his eye”, he’s certainly no George Thomas or Bernard Weatherill, who commanded such great respect as Speakers. Nor does he have the easy feel, touch, and humour of Betty Boothroyd his predecessor.

I’m surprised to see that Iain Dale is running a poll on who should replace “Gorbals Mick” because I don’t think it’s remotely likely that he will be replaced in the near future, but the runners and riders will be getting into position in advance of the next election. If it were my choice I’d like to see Sir George Young who has wide and varied political experience as a councillor, MP, and government minister, he is very much respected by all sides of the House too.

It’s all academic though, Mick Martin will be in the chair for a while yet!

Written by curly

February 25, 2008 at 12:08 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Curly,

    I can’t help believe that there has been an ongoing campaign by snobs to remove the Speaker since he was first elected to the position.

    What this whole episode does show is that we need a complete overhaul of Parliamentary expenses and they must be audited by a body outside the control of Westminster.

    One thing which does puzzle me though – why does his wife need such an expensive account for taxis? Surely the Speaker has a driver?


    February 25, 2008 at 12:47 pm

  2. I agree, it’s a nonsense to expect a committee of MPs to satisfactorily review their own arrangements, without the accusations of “whitewash” or “cover up”.


    February 25, 2008 at 12:58 pm

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