Fraser Nelson

The campaign to ditch Speaker Martin gathers pace

The campaign to ditch Speaker Martin gathers pace
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Ben Wallace has just called for the Speaker to resign, joining Douglas Carswell’s call. This doubles the number of MPs who have broken the parliamentary protocol and are openly calling for the Speaker to go. Wallace explained his rationale on Channel Four news: from 2001 when Freedom of Information legislation was passed, it was clear this juggernaught was coming down the track. What Wallace didn’t say is that his old employer, the Scottish Parliament, felt this first – Tory leader David McLetchie was felled in a scandal about his taxi expenses. It was clear to Wallace (if to all too few of his new Westminster colleagues) that it would be a matter of time before this hurricane hit Westminster.

Wallace earned plenty enemies on his own side for his unilateral decision to publish all his expenses online, and for this deeply unpopular stance he was named Campaigner of the Year in the 2008 Spectator/Threadneedle awards. He has not disappointed us. Even Norman Baker squirmed when asked by Jon Snow if the Speaker should go – the old protocol, that MPs never criticise the Speaker, was evidently nagging away at the back of his head. Wallace went for it: Martin has had plenty of time, he has failed, he should go.

This may look like a Tory initiative, but disgust at what’s been going on is spread across all parties. I also think it's significant that the 2005 intake are taking the lead here: the world has changed, Westminster hasn't, and this is clearer to some MPs than others. I draw a division across all parties: good (who are disgusted) the bad (who know it's bad, but don't want to rock the boat) and the ugly (Margaret Moran and Derek Conway). It's time we heard more from the good. Certainly, you get on as an MP by doing what you're told. So Wallace and Carswell will have done their careers no favours today. But I think CoffeeHousers will agree, theirs is a fight worth having.

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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