- Is Michael Martin the right man to spend the next year leading the House of Commons out of this morass?
- Should he be given another year, or should he go now?
- Can he really chair proceedings when one of the three main parties has already delivered a vote of no confidence?
A few weeks ago MPs would have reluctantly agreed to his preferred timetable. I now don't think they will. He is so damaged that his reputation is not recoverable. His attack on Kate Hoey and Norman Baker was the turning point. The fact that Nick Clegg has been so unequivocal today and that the position of the Conservatives seems to have slightly hardened judging by interviews today with Andrew Lansley and William Hague demonstrates that, as Betty Boothroyd might say, time's up.
In addition, the new Speaker needs to be chosen by this House of Commons, not the next one. It is unfair on 150-200 new MPs to expect them to be able to judge the candidates. Current MPs know the strengths and weaknesses of each of the likely candidates. Party politics should not play a part in it and for that reason Conservatives should not worry about the wrong person being chosen.
So when Douglas Carswell puts down his motion tomorrow, MPs of all parties must remain resolute and not compromise. Replacing Michael Martin is not the answer to mending our broken politics. But it is part of the answer. And it needs to happen now.