Fraser Nelson

Martin loses it

Martin loses it
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Michael Martin has just exploded. Kate Hoey raised a point of order: doesn't the Metropolitan Police have better things to do than investigating leaks? You often get the feeling that Martin is just waiting to snap "You can't handle the truth!" à la A Few Good Men. Hoey seemed to tip him over the edge. She has form, you see. With a reddened face, Martin said sarcastically that he had listened to her "pearls of wisdom on Sky News" at midnight. He is evidently angered that she dares to discuss it. (There's a protocol that MPs don't criticise the Speaker outside of Westminster - which just makes it sound like all MPs are happy with the appalling status quo, whereas some are just as disgusted as the rest of us). Martin went on, voice quivering with anger:

"Is it the case that an employee of this House should be able to hand over any private data to any organisation of his or her choosing? The allegation - and I say they are allegations - is that that information was handed over to a third party to find the highest bidder for private information. And if I don’t ask, or rather the House doesn’t ask that the police brings the matter in, then what we are saying is that that employee should be left in situ with all the personal information?"

Erm no, Martin, you can sack him or her if you like. The point Hoey was making is that you can conduct your own leak inquiry rather than waste police time. There are real crimes going unsolved in this city. If Goldman Sachs thought it had a mole, would it call in the police? But Martin had lost it; it was as if he forgot he was being televised. He saw enemies everywhere. Norman Baker, for example, was told he is always keen "to say to the press whatever the press want to hear" - which is an extraordinary attack.  And so Martin started snapping at the people he's supposed to impartially adjudicate between. Which side do the MPs think they're on? His, or that of the wicked media's?

"I just say to you it’s easy to say to the press, ’This should not happen’. It’s a wee bit more difficult when you just don’t have to give quotes to the press and do nothing else. Some of us in this House have other responsibilities"

Thing is, Hoey has a responsibility to her constituents in London Vauxhall - the ones whose burglaries are unsolved, and who want the police catching the thieves. Not acting as Michael Martin's personal stasi.

P.S. Hoey has just been on Radio Four saying that she wishes we still had Betty Boothroyd. Plenty of MPs think this, but they follow this weird rule that no MP criticises the Speaker in public. This has the effect of making them seem like they're all complicit. Hoey's right: it's time for the many MPs who are genuinely disgusted with the way Martin has conducted himself to speak out.

P.P.S. Douglas Carswell is drafting a motion to remove Martin, and it's been approved by the Table Office. If it kicks up enough stink then Martin may pre-announce his resignation (ie, say he'll quit after the next election). Watch this space.

Written byFraser Nelson

Fraser Nelson is the editor of The Spectator. He is also a columnist with The Daily Telegraph, a member of the advisory board of the Centre for Social Justice and the Centre for Policy Studies.

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