James Forsyth

Clegg calls for the Speaker to go

Clegg calls for the Speaker to go
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The future of the Speaker dominates the Sunday papers. The Mail on Sunday reports that Michael Martin will announce that he will quit at the next election in an attempt to save his position. The Sunday Times has an interview with a former staff member, admittedly one who left under a cloud, who alleges that Martin personally edited the Green Book on MPs’ expenses and angrily resisted all attempts at reform. But these stories have been trumped by Nick Clegg’s decisive intervention this morning calling for the Speaker to do the “decent thing” and quit

Clegg’s intervention further weakens Martin. It is hard to see how the Speaker can stay on when he explicitly does not command the support of one party and its leader. It will be fascinating to see if Cameron now turns his implicit calls for Martin to go into explicit ones. Also, worth watching how many MPs sign Douglas Carswell’s motion of no confidence in the Speaker. I expect the trickle could soon turn into a flood.

PS Politics Home has the transcript of Clegg’s remarks on Andrew Marr on this subject. They are pitch perfect and show that if Cameron hesitates—as he has on the fate of the Speaker—he will find himself overtaken by Clegg on this issue:

"Party leaders do not talk about the Speaker. It is exactly that culture of unwritten rules, nods and winks that got us into this mess.

"I believe the Speaker must go. We need somebody at the heart of Westminster to lead wholesale radical reform. He is supposed to embody the Commons. He has been dragging his feet on reform.

"I do not say this lightly and I do not say it with relish. He is personally a kind and courteous man. He has been far too willing to drag his feet on issues like transparency," he said.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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