So then, what sort of Speaker do we want?

Update. It’s now clear Michael Martin will resign his seat.
So Mick quits, in a statement of thundering anti-climax, in less than 100 words before a full House, proving his inadequacy to destruction for the second time in 24 hours. He even left up in the air if he was resigning his Glasgow seat. In the meantime, the arrangements for cleaning -out the stables begin without the slightest idea of what “breaking the rules” means in terms of natural justice, the rules being so vague. Appropriate though that on the Tory side Douglas Hogg, he of the moat cleaning claim, won’t stand again ( althiough he mightn’t have anyway) but I’m glad that Michael Gove one of the best and brightest, has squeaked through. Shahid Malik, cast as the ideal Labourite moderniser is only the first of Labour to crash. There’ll be concerns that Brown and Cameron will bid up the stakes to see who can pose as the better Cromwell. If they’ aren’t very careful, backbenchers may end up even more as cogs of central party machines, which is not what is supposed to happen. Many are furious that Mick mucked up so badly the Speaker’s role as champion ( but not slavish follower) of the backbenches, by opposing FoI for the Commons to the last ditch. The problem is: how can an MP assert his/her independence? The newly introduced secret ballot for electing Michael Martin’s successor should provide an acid test. So then, what sort of new Speaker do we want? MPs are worryingly confused about this. Some talk of “the most powerful Speaker ever” to lead “reform.” Others want a ceremonial figure who has nothing to do with administration. “The embodiment of Parliament to the People and the voice of the people to Parliament” sounds terrific but what does it mean? Mick’s problem was that he fell between the two stools. An interim Speaker up to the election looks like a kite that won’t fly. For those interested, I’ll make my own candidate list later. BTW, there’s no connection whatever between electoral reform and the present crisis. The record of expenses sinning shows the same would have happened under a Conservative government.

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London