13 May 2009

The issue of the Speaker

Should he stay or should he go?  That is the question being asked about Michael Martin, who some think is not up to the job.  Why the sudden rush to pass judgement?  He has been Speaker for nearly nine years.  If MPs had wanted to take action, they should have done this long ago.  To remove Martin on a vote of no confidence a few months before a election has little logic.  There are more important matters to deal with.

What Martin should do in the next few weeks, and certainly before the Summer recess, is to announce his retirement from the job and say he will stand down before the election to allow a successor to be voted in.  A by-election, which no party will want at present, could be avoided by holding the vote for the new Speaker within three months of the election.  If the election is in October, then a new Speaker could still be voted in because Parliament will have to reconvene for the dissolution.

MPs need to elect a person who not only is respected in the Commons, but someone the public can identify with and be trusted to carry through the reform of MPs’ expenses and allowances.  The likely candidates, such as Tory Grandee George Young and Ming Campbell, have probably ruled themselves out.  David Davis would be a good choice.

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