Sunday, February 24, 2008

Will the 'Men in Grey Suits' Despatch Mr Speaker?

The Sunday papers have launched new attack on Commons Speaker Michael Martin over more expenses allegations. However, the most damaging thing from his point of view is the resignation of his PR adviser, Mike Granatt. Needless to say our gutless MPs are keeping their heads down on this, with Norman Baker the only one to put his maverick head above the parapet. The real point is that Michael Martin has been the worst Speaker in living memory. He deserves to go because he's useless. The expenses allegations are a diversion from the point that he should go because of his incompetence. Every Labour MP I speak to recognises this privately and Conservatives and LibDems think so too. There is no formal mechanism for despatching a Speaker, but it would be a very foolish Speaker indeed who refused to go after being approached by a cross party delegation of men in grey suits. The usual channels should get to work.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mr Granatt says the Speaker wasn't to blame for the misinformation on taxi expenses.
But Mick made no effort to issue a correction.

Anonymous said...

Hello

Young and new contributor here so please bear with me.

Would someone please tell me why the Speaker is seen as being quite that bad? The worst in history?

Anonymous said...

How is claiming mortgage subsidy when no mortgage exists different from conway paying his son to do nothing??


brown should follow camerons example and kick this crook out of office and the party.... its fraud pure and simple.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 1.03 pm - who would the Speaker issue the correction through, if his spokesman wasn't in post?

Teesbridge said...

Dream on. Speaker Ceausescu will bury us all.

Anonymous said...

To be honest if MPs are so gutless as to think it is acceptable to be doing nothing whatsoever about the worst speaker, then they deserve to be held in contempt by the voters.
Surely an MP - I dont care which party - could take a stand, (s)he could even have a go at shouting down the speaker to make his her point. What about waving the Mace above their head?
MPs constantly look guilty of ripping off the system as they never do anything to critise it or take a stand to reform it. I am expected to tell-on-my-neighbour if I think they are ripping off the benefits system, why do MPs think they are so special that they do not need to abide by the rules and they can just keep awarding themselves pay and expenses increases.
Feathering their own nest whilst the country goes to the dogs (or Brussels, depending upon your point of view).

Anonymous said...

"Young and new contributor here."

Hello verity, we know you are just trying your usual 'I have to go against the tide of opinion, just to be bloody awkward..

Wrinkled Weasel said...

It's clear that Granatt feels he's been used and abused, and his whole resignation statement is code for "my boss is a crook but I can't say that"

This won't sink the Government, but I wonder if the revelations about the Council Tax will?

Anonymous said...

Hmmm shame he's not a friend of yours, you'd be defending him to the last ditch.

Still if he goes, you'll be supporting your 'ol mate Conway for the job, after all you did once before!!

It isn't only MP's who are gutless.

Umbongo said...

Do me a favour: all that has to be done is to get the Father of the House to stand up and put a motion that "this house has no confidence in the speaker" - a debate ensues, a vote is taken and, with any luck, the present incumbent is thrown out.

Trumpeter Lanfried said...

umbongo [2.51] I am afraid the PLP would be whipped to vote against any censure motion because Gorbals Mick is WORKING CLASS and his critics are TOFFS.

zendo said...

How about someone who's leaving Parliament at the end of this session putting forward a motion of no confidence in this dreadful man? I would suggest Michael Howard.

verity said...

2:22 "What about waving the Mace above their head?"

And how do you suggest they get their hands on the Mace?

Anonymous said...

Verity said... "And how do you suggest they get their hands on the Mace?"

Erm ... pick it up? a la Heseltine...

Anonymous said...

umbongo: how does the motion get onto the Order Paper?

Christian May said...

"O-o-o-o-o-o-o-order."

The man lacks the authority to control the House. Simple as that.

My favourite line of his was when Tory MPs were shouting down the PM and Martin said "The Prime Minister must have a hearing." Given that this was during one of the frequent police investigations into the Government, I couldn't help but laugh.

Umbongo said...

trumpeter lanfried

"the PLP would be whipped to vote against any censure motion"

I'm sure you're right but at least we'd know exactly who wants the turd in office to remain unflushed

anonymous 4:37

"how does the motion get onto the Order Paper?"

Good point - I don't know. But I'm sure one of the constitutional experts reading this blog should be able to tell us.

Anonymous said...

Like Anon, comment 2, I have been wondering what it is that makes him the worst ever Speaker. Obviously the expenses bit is unacceptable, but in the job - is he biased, does he not follow protocol etc? What should he be doing that he's not? This is a genuine question.

Tone made me do it - he's a bad influence said...

Even Martin Bell on Radio 4 was criticising the Speaker - the first time I have ever heard the BBC's "neutral" ex-MP ever attack Labour.

He was pointing out that the normal convention for choosing a speaker was for him to be proposed by one party and seconded by the other. In the case "Four pies"
Mick, he was proposed and seconded by 2 labour MPs in what Bell described as a process that "smacked of being whipped"

'It's Our Parliament' said...

Surely the people who need to tell the Speaker his time is up are 'the men in grey tights'?

To answer those who ask what is so bad about Michael Martin as Speaker (ignoring the 'worst in history' hyperbole), he has shown himself to be a failure in one aspect of the job which has become very important in the modern media age - that of being the public face of the Commons.

Compared with his immediate predecessors like Betty Boothroyd, how many public speeches, or TV/radio interviews, has he given, talking to/with the public about their Parliament?

Unfortunately, he has been virtually invisible outside the Commons Chamber at the very time when the House claims to be pursuing an agenda of 'connecting with the public', and when the need for the restoration of public trust in the Commons is especially vital.

For these reasons, Michael Martin should do the decent thing now, so that his departure can symbolise a new and better era for Westminster in the public mind.

Anonymous said...

As Speaker, I'm sure that Mick has heard every bit of tittle-tattle about everyone else in the House, from Gordon Brown down.

Maybe this is what is keeping him in his comfy seat...

zendo said...

'It's our parliament' said:

Compared with his immediate predecessors like Betty Boothroyd, how many public speeches, or TV/radio interviews, has he given, talking to/with the public about their Parliament?


Aww!be fair.The man failed his 11+.
Even if someone wrote a speech for him, could he READ it?

curly15 said...

To be fair he is awful, to be fair he's likely to stay until the next election.

There is no real attempt to rid him from our TV screens, he's doing his best to protect the perks of Members!

Anonymous said...

So much for "Lord" Foulkes and others moaning about a right-wing conspiracy of Oxbridge types in the media. Seems like the paper leading the way on all this air miles and expenses is the Sunday Mirror- hardly stuffed full of public school right-wingers!

Anonymous said...

Margaret Beckett was leading the pack of self-serving MPs yesterday - she's sure that this is a witch hunt, but equally (in true Beckett "rant on but at the same time sit on the fence and wait and see" mode!) isn't sure if there's something in it or not! Makes me ashamed to live in Derby.

I'm not convinced myself that Martin is all that bad at the actual job. I vividly remember past speakers being either massive puffed-up windbags or self-serving. Probably a lot of MPs want someone who will let them misbehave with impunity. The few times I watched Martin in action he seemed a bit poor at presentation but less pompous than his predecessors. Some might argue that's a good thing.

The other side of this is that to get rid of the Speaker because some MPs don't like him and others think he's incompetent actually sets quite a constitutional precedent - he's supposed to be there till he/she wants to go. It's a bit like getting rid of the Queen/King because some people in Buck House don't like her/him.

On the other hand, as a taxpayer, I feel disgusted that the man appointed to chair the group who review MPs blatant thefts er sensible and moderate expense claims is himself hard at it. The malaise in Britain goes right to the top. Whilst soldiers are fighting and dying in Afghanistan and New Labour defence cuts are biting harder and harder, MPs are working furiously to ensure that their expenses are maximised.