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Monday, December 08, 2008


Is it me or is the drama over the arrest of Damien Green becoming a media witchhunt against the Speaker of the House of Commons?

This article in the Daily Telegraph makes it clear that it is almost impossible to remove a sitting Speaker though moves are afoot in the Labour Party to encourage him to step down at the next General Election. In return his son, Paul Martin will be offered his safe seat of Glasgow North West.

The personalisation of this issue is regrettable because it detracts attention from the main issue, the nature of Government in this country. Nick Clegg is quite right to say that the Liberal Democrats will not serve on the proposed Committee of Enquiry as it is currently constituted. The Committee will be dominated by the Government and will just whitewash the whole affair.

If, instead of debating their own privileges and the future of the Speaker, MPs and the media concentrated on discussing how to address the culture of secrecy in Government then we would all be better off. An American style Freedom of Information Act would be a good start.
Excellent post peter, couldn't agree more.
What we also need is to get away from the Presidential style government which has crept up on us over the last few years.
Gordon Brown is President in all but name now, with no checks and balances. The cabinet just does as it is told, and debate in the House of Commons is a thing of the past. All we get these days is partisan argument, which is not debate!
It is possible to debate a Speaker's actions. I dimly remember a critical motion when Michael Foot was Labour leader and the then Speaker (Wetherill?) had made a controversial decision. Of course, the Tory majority on that occasion defeated the motion, but surely the Speaker would have had to consider his position if the vote had gone the other way.

Jonathan Calder has blogged on Speakers who are too popular with the administration.
I think this is another trial by media.Ian Dale is running a poll on the popularity of the speaker -thats how it seems to me.
As most of us have never seen him operate ,it really is only MPs who can pass any credible oppinion on him.
What are the skills needed from a Speaker. I thought Betty Boothroyd was a harridan, but apparently she was regarded as an excellent speaker.
If I may be allowed to quote Oliver Cromwell

"Weeds and nettles, briars and thorns, have thrived under your shadow, dissentment and division, discontentment and dissatisfaction, together with real dangers to the whole."
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