James Forsyth

Nick Clegg should speak out

Nick Clegg should speak out
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The Lib Dems should be leading the charge against Michael Martin. It is the kind of issue where the Lib Dems can emphasise their outsider status and come across as the party prepared to break up the cosy Westminster consensus. Considering the public disquiet about how MPs are using the expenses system, the Lib Dems would be onto a winner.

MPs and the political parties are reluctant to criticise the Speaker because they fear the consequences. As Nick Robinson points out, individual MPs worry that they might not get called in debates and the Tories want to ensure that one of their own gets the job next time round. However, it is to Clegg and the Lib Dem’s advantage to be seen to be crossing the Speaker right now as their big battle at the moment is to get their ‘in or out’ referendum amendment down; the Commons Clerks are reluctant to allow it to be tabled as they don’t see it as relevant to the Lisbon Treaty bill. But if the Lib Dems were to be denied after publicly criticising Martin, they would be able to kick up an almighty fuss which would disguise their own deep divisions over the issue.

Written byJames Forsyth

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

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