Speaker to quit – after him, the deluge?

Steve Richards in the Independent counsels well against a blood lust in the Commons. He was writing before the news broke that the Speaker is announcing at 2.30 pm that’s he’s bowing to the overwhelming pressure to quit. The speculation is that he’ll link his departure to an emergency expenses system to be discussed among party leaders later in the day. If Gordon Brown hadn’t botched his ghastly grinning YouTube initiative, the Speaker would probably have survived. Remorse and some rollback at his treatment have started already. Austen Mitchell on BBC News insists:“It’s not the Speaker’s fault” and asks: “if the Speaker’s head rolls how many others among not so bad cases will follow?” Against that is the clean out the stables school of Polly Toynbee, who’s set off a Roman candle of reform, PR for both Houses, a written constitution, the lot. Oh and what about citizen’s juries to sort out the allowances scale? It was all seen before in the 17th century. Bring back the Levellers!. Back at ground level, the big danger now is that attempts to create a stampede for a general election will doom any hopes that reform will get the careful, non-partisan consideration it needs.

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