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What did the PM say?

Nick Robinson | 14:12 UK time, Monday, 18 May 2009

The Speaker had three vital encounters yesterday which, I'm told, have helped to determine whether he goes or stays.

Michael Martin and Gordon BrownFirst, he went to Mass.

Next, he spoke with his family.

Finally, I'm told that he met the prime minister.

As I wrote earlier, it is the government which decides whether the motion of no confidence in the Speaker will be debated this week.

Gordon Brown would, I'm sure, not have risked accusations of constitutional impropriety by telling the Speaker that he should resign.

However, the prime minister's view of whether the government would find time for a no confidence motion or delay it will have have indicated to Michael Martin whether he could fight on or whether his time was up.


  • Comment number 1.

    Considering the recent track record of Gordon Brown any sensible person would act the opposite of what he suggests.

    I wonder whether any office furniture was thrown or kicked during the meeting?

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 3.

    Brown cannot afford any bye-elections as they might threaten his own position (not that it is not already under threat). I Martin goes, there is a risk of a bye-election so Brown is probably keen he [Martin] tried to sit it out.

    Already discussedin another post, generally very few people seem to support the Speaker staying until the next election but general opinion is he should go immediately. Given Brown's definate "No reward for failure", were the speaker to go immediately it can only be because of failure so, "no reward" which means no moving to the Lords, no "pay-off" (such as treating pensions, etc. as though he served out his term). Anything that could be seen as a reward would just enrage people further. It might also start reflecting on Brown as it would be him who allows the "reward for failure".

    Parliamnet has actually got quite a lot of important stuff to get on with e.g. we are going into a deep recession which maybe the government should try and do something about. The expenses scandal needs resolving and cannot be ignored. Martin going is not a solution but his staying is a major hindrance. His departure needs to be handled carefully or it would cause more short term problems.

    His "no reward for failure" is partcularly important given his history of expense claims (and his wife's claims to - they really know how to make extensive use of taxis !!).

  • Comment number 4.

    HE IS TOAST !!

    The chances of Gordon wanting to hand David Cameron a PR open goal by allowing the Prime Minister to be labelled yet again as an indecisive ditherer can be summarised as :-

    No hope,


    Bob Hope..

    Taxi for Mr Speaker !

  • Comment number 5.

    Was there a fourth meeting with the head of the fees' office where he tried to chisel the £ 100, 000 resettlement allowance 'golden parachute'?

    Or did he simply seek an assurance from Gordon that his son would be allowed to 'take over' his constituency at the next election ??

  • Comment number 6.

    What did the PM say? Perhaps-

    'Don't you worry Michael, the English get very hot under the collar for a while but it never lasts, we make a few false promises, look serious, then they forget all about it. Look at my mate Fred the shred - big outrage, we promised to do something, did nothing - now everyones forgot all about it! You hold tight old boy, you aint goin' nowhere'

  • Comment number 7.

    Whatever he said, that was yesterday. You don't seriously expect he still holds the same opinion today, do you?

  • Comment number 8.

    I take it Brown will have given him the bum's rush in the hope this will deflect attention from the rest of the scroungers infesting parliament. The only thing that will placate the people of this country now is a general election and an opportunity to pull all the snouts out of the Westminster trough. Those MPs who have played the game and taken only what they were due, should also feel a sense of shame, they too were culpable, they are paid to oversee the interests of the taxpayer but have failed to do so by allowing their colleagues to steal unhindered from the public purse. All of them must now face the public in a general election which hopefully will lead to a change of government and a drastic change in the way government at all levels makes free with the resources of the taxpayers.

  • Comment number 9.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 10.

    Surely what Gordon does in these situations is fall back on his trusty suggestion of "having a review".

  • Comment number 11.

    Well, I for one don't want speaker Martin to resign today. MPs would then try and establish some sort of legitimacy to stay in power until next year.

    What we really need is an immediate election and the clearing out of ALL the miscreants (speaker included), not the continuation of this lame duck parliament.

  • Comment number 12.

    Wouldn't it be nice just for once, that an MP do something that is good and right for the benefit of the country.

    Over to you Michael Martin, Don't wait for PM to make a flacid attempt at decision making as usual. It would take too long.

    The decision is to be made now. Most of the public have made thier mind up sacrficial lamb or otherwise. It dosn't matter we want you to go.

  • Comment number 13.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 14.

    oh God!

    He spoke to the speaker - but the speaker is independant of the government..... aint it ?

    dither dither dither....

    Whose strings are being pulled by whom ?

    This looks so bad... why is the PM talking to the Speaker out of parliament.... ?

    Are the whips discussing this ... if its nothing to do with government ?


  • Comment number 15.

    There's an attempt at propiety going on, but the truth has to be Mr Speaker Martin will go today, or very soon.

    He's part, and only part, of the problem and has been for some time.

    The idea that Mr Prime Minister Brown would block the use of government time on the no confidence motion would show an extraordinary lack of political nous, which has its precedents, but whatever dim prospect there is of Brown getting the loyalty of his back benches back depends on that decision.

    On a secret ballot - MM is toast, some MPs have a folorn hope that he will be a convenient scapegoat.

    Not while Moran, Maples, Morely, McCartney, Blears, Hogg

  • Comment number 16.

    If there is by-election - as speaker ascends to Lords...

    Watch for Independant to romp home.

  • Comment number 17.

    Theirs odds for the new speaker! Menzies Campbell is fav, Ken Clarke 10-1!

  • Comment number 18.

    The Prime Minister would have to have taken several elements into account. The best interest of the country, the best interest of the Speaker, the best interest of Parliament, the best interest of the Governing Party and the best interest of Gordon. Mmmm - so the list is in ascending order of importance.

    Either the Speaker will stay until the next election or he will go but only if this can happen whilst avoiding a by-election

  • Comment number 19.

    Gordon Brown says "the decision about who is Speaker is a matter for the House of Commons - it could never be a matter for the government" but then as you point out it's the "government which decides whether the motion of no confidence in the Speaker will be debated".

    It's this sort of misleading double speak from Gordon Brown which debases politics and removes all trust from politicans. It's clear they still haven't got it, and won't until after the June elections.

  • Comment number 20.

    So if he doesn't go Brown looks like a ditherer idiot again.

    This is all shifting the furnature on the Titanic.

    This Parliament/ Titanic is sinking it is a busted flush.

    Nothing this intake of MP's can do can make any difference. They are completely tainted.

    We need to take the first step on LONG road to restoring

    confidence we need an Election.

    Then oppoint a new speaker chosen from the new 'Clean' intake of MP's

  • Comment number 21.

    Surely he must go? If this was any other organisation he would be dismissed or do the decent thing and resign. But then so would a lot of others It seems to me that it is a crying shame when the people the public is supposed to trust have a complete lack of morals! Im not going to assume that this mess will be sorted out quickly, as with the mismanagement of the banking system this will have ramifications for politics for years to come. Lets look forward to more mismanagement in the future

  • Comment number 22.

    You know that parliments in trouble when I was approached by an 80 year old woman at the weekend who answered my little joke in the shop about 'putting it on expenses' - with the un-prompted

    "Guy Fawkes had the right idea - burn them all - the B*******"

    I must say I was shocked to hear such language from such an elderly and apparently frail woman - but she was adamant about it - I could see the extreme anger in her eyes.

    I thought I was radical and extreme - but it seems I am well behind the curve on this one...although still miles ahead of the MP's!

  • Comment number 23.

    Nick Robinson writes: "I'm sure [the Prime Minister would] not have risked accusations of constitutional impropriety by telling the Speaker that he should resign."

    Your faith in the Prime Minister's sense of constitutional propriety is touching - but, on reflection, unconvincing. As you go on to suggest the PM can be expected to have "indicated to Michael Martin whether he could fight on or whether his time was up."

    If the Prime Minister has signaled to Mr. Martin that he can 'fight on' he will have added copious amounts of fuel to a fire that threatens to burn out of control and consume far more than Mr. Martin's seat in the House of Commons.

  • Comment number 24.

    Dissolve parliament.

    When the prime minister of the day can't even support their chosen speaker the government has no authority and ceases to e able to govern.

    They are now climbing down on every issue and uttery pointless.

    Disssolve parliament and call an election.

  • Comment number 25.

    I assume, then, that Martin is a regular attender of mass?

    What was his usual prayer? "Dear Lord, please don't let me get caught out"?

  • Comment number 26.

    You may write that, I couldn't possibly comment !

  • Comment number 27.

    Do you think Gordon's conversation went like this?

    GB - Look Michael, it's obvious you have messed up over this expense thing and.....well you know the score - I think you will have to go.

    MM - So that's one rule for you - and another one for me then Gordon

    GB - But I am Prime Minister - I can't resign, it wouldn't look good for the country, and besides I've just put together a new plan to end this recession once and for all, ending the boom and bust cycle, bringing about world Economic stability and eradicating world poverty in the next 5 years.

    MM - Following your track record and your incredible ability of 'reverse Midas touch' - I'll get my coat.....I just have a couple of expense claims I need to get through the fees office....

  • Comment number 28.

    I happen to be from a working class background from clydeside (Greenock) and I believe that Mr Martin should go - his record as a speaker is not good and this is the last straw. He has always exhibuted a bias towards his former colleagues. No matter if you are from a working class background you can still exhibit an interest in preserving the status quo like Mr Martin. For example who just happens to be the MSP for Springburn - ah Mr Paul Martin - son of the speaker. Isn't it about time that the people of Springburn had a chance to break free of this Martin domination. And who speaks up for him Lord Foulkes first MP, then Lord and now MSP and Lord - another professional politician with a vested interest in preserving the status quo. Labour do seem to be plagued with career politicians with a tendency towards nepotism (Benn, Milliblands, Kinnocks). These people are a professional political elite with no contact with the real world. One only has to look a Gordon Brown to see how out of touch these numpties are with reality - he has a vested interest in keeping Martin there as any bye election would inevitably lead to another Labour loss. Isn't about time we had an election to turf this lot out?

  • Comment number 29.

    Nick if you are right Brown could be making a bad mistake here. Not to let Martin offer the 'expenses reform plan' even as a swan song but to present it himself after a resignation could be seen as dropping the poor old boy right in it. There would be splashes.

  • Comment number 30.

    Maybe Brown reassured Mr Martin that his position was as strong as Brown's is, and that he commands the same level of respect in the Labour party and throughout the country as Brown does.

    In other words, maybe Gorbals Mick will finally realise that he is political history.

  • Comment number 31.

    Brown has neither the authority nor the morality to indicate he should go. The only person Brown is interested in is Brown and how long can he stay a the lame duck he is. We have a meeting of minds here that are both in denial of the mess they have helped create. Talk about Lions led by Donkeys. To allow Martin to stay would be rewarding him for failure something Brown is keen to old against bankers they through his Medellin with the system financially crippled the UK. While the with the backing of him and his Ministers, Hen Harman's attempt to exempt MP's from the Freedom of Information Act he has morally broken the peoples belief in Parliamentary Authority it is now seen as morally corrupt. This man has probably done more to enable a fascist Party gain power in this country than Hitler did in '39.

    One question I would like answered why has the Old Bill not felt the collar of the Daily Telegraph editor yet?

  • Comment number 32.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 33.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 34.

    Whatever the PM said to Martin, it would have been based on what was best for Brown rather what was best for the country and parliament in general. Brown's "moral compass" seems to have broken long ago and replaced with a "saving my own skin" compass.

  • Comment number 35.

    Brown must know (even from the safety of his bunker) that public opinion wants Speaker Martin out now. Given the dire state of public confidence in the political class as a whole, backing Speaker Martin under these circumstances would surely just be throwing petrol on the fire? Why should we trust MPs to come up with a satisfactory result? We can't trust them with our money; why trust them with important matters like this? I find it hard to believe that the Government would block the No Confidence debate/vote: who's side do they think they would be on if they did that?

    That said, Brown and his utterly discredited Government and political Party could do anything these days. They're in disarray and desparate. If our political elite (ha!) don't get a grip of this constitutional Titanic soon, then we'll all be heading for the lifeboats.

  • Comment number 36.

    just heard that Rantzen wants to stand as an MP like Bell. Sorry I think we should get people in who have done real jobs. As I recall Brown was a journalist before he was an MP, like McShane, Mitchell, Green, Bradshaw etc. Do we really want people who have worked for a dubious organisations like the BBC and funded by a poll tax and who waste money on people like Dross and Wogan and with a similar reputation to Parliament to stand as an MP. No thanks, I will take my chances with those from the real world.

  • Comment number 37.

    Brown: Look Michael, I know you stand to lose £100,000 in pension perks and your massive salary (not to mention the expenses), and your wife will have to pay for her own taxis and air travel in future, and you won't be able to to employ your wife and daughter out of public money any more but you have been completely incompetent as a Speaker, have held up much needed reform, and have generally brought the House into disrepute. Would you consider resigning?
    Martin: But Gordon, George Foulkes thinks I should stay, so does Jim Sheridan and Doug Henderson, and were all good Scottish lads - what about a bit of solidarity.
    Brown: Och, fair enough you smooth talking de'il - we'll stand or fall together.

  • Comment number 38.

    So Brown is a ditherer again and into the long greass it goes.


    Appology ITS TO LATE FOR THAT RESIGN!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Call an election

  • Comment number 39.

    Just heard the statement - one word "lamentable"!
    For gods sake go now!

  • Comment number 40.

    It appear he has followed Gordon's lead.

    Obviously this is no time for novices, he has accepted some of the blame but put much of it on others and he believes he is best placed to see Parliament through these troubled waters.

    Why should we expect anymore from him?

    Will Gordon Brown allow the no confidence plan to be discussed?

  • Comment number 41.

    Astonishingly bad performance by the speaker in the House of Commons today.

    Do these people have any other way of saying sorry than that they are all to blame? They are not all to blame; the speaker refusedto investigate this matter and so did the prime minister.

    They are now writing history by the day; the history of the worst parliament since the rotten parlaiment of Cromwell's time.

    Everyone is angry so we'll have a debate? A highly responsible attitude to take.

    Parliamnet should be dissolved it is perfectly obvious.

    The Queen should do it and do it with in the month.

    There is no confidece in the speaker; no confidence in the governent; n confidence in Gordon Brown and no confidence in parlaiment.

    having a debate is not the answer.

    Dissolve pariament.

  • Comment number 42.

    Having just heard the speakers statement one has to wonder over the delusional powers of powdered wigs and black stockings. He cant be on the same planet as the rest of us. One also has to wonder at the stance of Stuart Bell MP, loyalty is one thing, but blindly following Martin over the precipice questions his sanity and I think his constituents should take note

  • Comment number 43.

    The deletion of post #2 (a one word answer that politely summed up the relationship between PM and speaker) is nothing less than I would expect from the state's propaganda machine.


  • Comment number 44.

    Our MPs make themselves more and more contemptible.

    This latest ploy of trying to make a scapegoat of the Speaker to divert attention from the greedy claims THEY submitted is pathetic. Sure the speaker shares responsibility but the idea that he MADE them claim for their moats etc is ridiculous.

  • Comment number 45.


    you realy are going to have to start your future Blogs as follows;

    And today in Cloud Cuckoo Land.

    The only way we are going to get movement is through Gunpowder Treason & Plot.

    Their eyes are now blinded by greed and the prospect of loosing their gravy train.

  • Comment number 46.

    "Earlier on today, a woman rang the BBC and said she had heard that there was a hurricane on the way. Well if you are watching, don't worry there isn't".

    - Michael Fish October 1987

    "Neverthless, what's been revealed so far looks unlilkely to force anyone from office and compared with allegations of fraud that politicians have faced in many other countries this would be regarded as small beer".

    - Nick Robinson April 2009

  • Comment number 47.

    The Speaker has spoken.

    Over to Mr Brown now.

    By the way where was McCaferty?

  • Comment number 48.

    Putting God before Gordon.

    That won't have gone down well.

    Presumably this issue is big enough for MPs to put back / cancel their recess so that time constraints do not prevent a proper resolution

    That would be a small start in improving their standing with the public

  • Comment number 49.


    Martin has put off the inevitable by not resigning, and I am certain that this is because Brown needs him as a shield for a while to come. As mentioned last week, I am all for a general election rather than simply seeing Martin go, but go he must.

    I would suggest that since Harman won't move the early day motion as a substantive motion, the opposition parties simply boycott Parliament until the government comes to its senses and allows a full debate. Either that or the party leaders provide him with the gun at their forthcoming meeting. If Martin is still in place in one week, then to hang with the lot of them. I won't be voting.


  • Comment number 50.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 51.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 52.

    The Speaker will not allow a debate on this issue is to deny the people of this country their voice. In the current atmosphere that is a very dangerous place to put our democracy.

    What does the future hold for Gordon Brown if he refuses the electorate a General Election, and refuses a substantive motion Speaker Martin?

    It is a sorry day for freedom


  • Comment number 53.

    Just watched the Speaker in the H of C. Pathetic. This guy is like the extractor hood over my cooker. Damaged goods. Let's hope the Telegraph publish his expenses.

  • Comment number 54.

    Further to an earlier comment (#23): We can all expect quite a bonfire following Mr. Martin's refusal to shoulder his responsibilities and acknowledge that it is long past time for him to quit.

    Mr. Martin's statement was quite shameful, quite incredible and quite unforgivable.

    Mr. Martin's unsuitability as well as his extraordinary ignorance of Commons procedures, after years in the Speaker's chair, were on display as he pleaded with clerks to coach and guide him on what to say next.

    Gordon Brown's part in it can only be surmised but the Prime Minister will not be able to (nor should he be able to) distance himself from the fall out.

  • Comment number 55.

    Mr Martin is merely a pawn on the parliamentary chess board. Is it the PMs job to dismiss him - as I understand it, he is supposed to be unbiased isn't he? Who put the speaker in post?
    Whatever the protocol, the man is clearly wrong, if only by public opinion. Maybe then, it is the public that have the final say. I say 'go'. I see a lot of people saying 'go'. Mr Martin, the ball is in your court (we've gone from chess to tennis). Resign sir, be a right honourable speaker and do the right honourable thing.

  • Comment number 56.

    #17 Starshifter

    Ming Campbell - you must be joking!!! His interior decorating costs would finally bankrupt the nation.

  • Comment number 57.

    After this afternoons performance he is toast and must go within the week. The Speakers performance was pathetic. Much of what he said would have been acceptable two weeks ago but not now. On top of that, his performance after making his statement was utterly deplorable. He was not in control of the situation, did not know what he was doing and certainly would have resolved any doubts that some MPs were having about whether he should go.
    We need a new Speaker but not until after the next General which should be held immediately.

    David Camerons European Election launch was given over to this topic and through it he showed exceptional leadership.

  • Comment number 58.

    I agree with DC that there should be a general election now. all MPS should (publish) and stand on their expenses records during this parliament. Those that can justify them to their constituents have the chance of getting back in. Those that can't will be cleared out. Then we can get back to the other serious issues of day.

  • Comment number 59.

    "First, he went to Mass. Next, he spoke with his family." Forgive me for asking this, Nick, but how is that relevant to his thoughts prior to his meeting the PM? Perhaps you should have thrown in the time he got out of bed, whether he had porridge or cereal for breakfast and did he have a problem finding a matching pair of socks (as some of us do on a Sunday morning), etc.

    In other words, cut to the chase.

    Anyway, I would submit that (in my humble opinion) perhaps the conversation went thusly:

    PM - "Your position is untenable."
    Mr Martin - "Snap."
    PM - "Voters and MPs have no confidence in you."
    Mr Martin - "Ditto."
    PM - "You have to resign."
    Mr Martin - "I will if you will."

    We don't know and we cannot speculate on the content of the conversation.

  • Comment number 60.

    A disastrous performance from a disastrous speaker. Sir Patrick Cormack got it right when he asked the speaker to consider his position and referred to the debate on Norway in 1940 when Neville Chamberlain fell. Martin is relying on his "friends" just as Chamberlain did. Lloyd George told Chamberlain where to get off and Martin should do the same:
    "It is not a question of who are the Prime Minister's friends. It is a far bigger issue. He has appealed for sacrifice. The nation is prepared for every sacrifice as long as it has leadership, so long as the government show clearly what they are aiming at, and so long as the nation is confident that those who are leading it are doing their best. I say solemnly that the Prime Minister should give an example of sacrifice, because there is nothing which can contribute more to victory than that he should sacrifice the seals of office."

  • Comment number 61.

    It is great that one of the more powerful people in this country chooses an imaginary deity as his first port of call when it comes to serious decisions...

    Perhaps a his judgement is clouded in other ways too

  • Comment number 62.

    This is going to turn into Mob rule of the worst kind, both on this thread, and in the Media circus that will surely follow.

    The people criticising the Speaker are not lilly white and their anger would be best expressed through their urging the resignation of the offending Honourable members, not the speaker himself.

    However this is a tempting press issue as the telegraph holds the monopoly on members expense information, whereas the Speaker is open season for all Papers and Broadcast media.

  • Comment number 63.

    Given that no time is being offered for a motion to effectively "depose" the Speraker, it's pretty obvious that Brown hasn't the big ones to actually do something good for the reputation of Parliament. (No surprise there.) The Speaker doesn't have to go yet - but he could announce when he will step down. That could be when Christopher Kelly has reported and he has steered a decent overhaul of the expenses/allowances nonsense through the House.

    Hanging on, to allow his son to try and succeed him in a UK constituency smacks of the worst form of political dynastic hypocrisy - not good for the Labour Party.

  • Comment number 64.

    David Cameron's speech at the launch of the Conservative's campaign for the EU elections has rather overtaken all of this. He called for an immediate general election. He is absolutely right to do so.

  • Comment number 65.


    Is anyone maintaining a tally of

    1. number of MPs whose expenses are definately not OK
    2. number of MPs whose expenses are suspicious
    3. number of MPs whose expenses are definately OK

    This would help scale the issue a little

  • Comment number 66.

    Gordon Brown would dither as usual at the meeting with Speaker Martin.

    His advice - ignore the media - ignore public opinion.

    Where do politicians get their thick skin from?

    Start a fund to guarantee Mr Martin still receives his payoff even if he goes now. Also guarantee that the NEXT speaker will be a working class Labour MP.

  • Comment number 67.

    Its the scottish mafia again... Every voice I have heard speak in favour of martin has been scottish.

    What are the chances of that?

  • Comment number 68.

    Dear Moderator, your challenge is to moderate the above postings before Christopher Kelly produces his report in the Autumn!

  • Comment number 69.


    And these people run my life? I'm simply speechless.

  • Comment number 70.

    Watching the Speakers apology this afternoon and the subsequent mock fury of Carswell. Is Carswell not missing the point the Bl***y public do not care about the speaker they are incenced by the MPs that have abused the system. What Carswell is really wanting is for Martin to resign and as is usual to go to the lords creating a bye-election which would embarass the Prime Minister. So as a member of the electorate, what I would like him to do is follow the lead of David Davis and make his protest by resigning and contesting his own seat. I'm personally fed up of these jumped up ex CCP press officers bleating about democracy. They are nothing but worn out "spin doctors". After all seems the idiot could not even get the motion raised properly (early day instead of substantive) methinks all a ploy to convince us there is a scapegoat.

  • Comment number 71.

    It's too late for this Speaker and this parliament. I've emailed my MP and told him that I want a new Speaker and a general election asap.

  • Comment number 72.

    "And I say again, we all bear a heavy responsibility for the terrible damage to the reputation of this House. We must do everything we possibly can to regain the trust and confidence of the people."

    Mr Martin - Resign
    Mr Brown - Call an election


  • Comment number 73.

    Oh Gawd. I think Parliament should be dissolved. I think somebody good and big like a leader of industry should (with the expertise at his or her disposal) come up with a draft frame of management of MP's expenses and allowances commensurate with their duties and responsibilities.

    I think its common knowledge that the minor parties, ie UKIP and BNP, are offering the public more what they want and will do well in the European elections.

    Who will win the General election is anybody's guess, except it won't be Labour and it had better be soon.

  • Comment number 74.

    Oh, great, somehow it's all in Dear Leader's capable, decisive fist now, is it?

    If so, or maybe despite this, I stumble somewhat over what I have just read in a newspaper report: 'one thing MPs should remember in making their choice is that the next Speaker will have more power than any of his predecessors.'

    Until very recently, I thought it was some old geezer who dresses funny and says 'Order, order' a lot. Hey, whatever floats their yachts.

    However, it has now been made quite clear that there is great power here but, unlike Spiderman, pretty much zippy by way of accountability. Especially to folk like me. You know; the public. Voters. Guys who foot the bill and shoulder the consequences.

    So.... with the great job that has served the country so well so far in recent mind, the intention is to hand the choice of the next one... again... to our current 600+ 'government of all the talents' (including in all from all parties under that glorious misnomer).

    'Because that is the way it has always been done'.

    I. do. not. blooming. well. think. so.

  • Comment number 75.

    What you and the rest of the BBC are failing to mention is that it was Brown's personal refusal to give time to the debate/vote over the speaker which has put parliament into the situation whereby even though the MPs want to debate/vote, they're not being allowed to.

    Brown and the speaker conspired to physically stop MPs from being able to debate/vote because Brown knows that once the speaker's kicked out then he'll be next (and it'd be quick).

    This has reached crisis point; the PM/speaker refused to allow MPs to debate/vote on something that they all want to debate/vote on.

    This can not stand as it's no different to Brown and the speaker saying that MPs have no rights to govern the country.

    People might wait until June 4th to voice their concerns, but my guess is that even a 1% labour vote on june 4th won't change Brown/the-speaker's attitude and they'll still just continue on until the last possible minute before having a general election. Neither Brown nor the speaker believe in democracy. At this stage, Brown and the speaker are both so far removed from reality and so power-desperate/hungry, that it wouldn't surprise me at all if they announced that they'll suspend all elections with immediate effect and with no end in sight.

    An unelected PM telling the elected MPs that they're not allowed to vote on something that they all want to vote on.

    As I say, this can not stand.

    The BBC should be ashamed for not reporting Brown's true role in this.

    The electorate will rapidly be turning into a baying mob; if labour carry on like this they're going to be facing riots pretty soon.

  • Comment number 76.

    ummmm something fishy going off here with the moderation... been on a number of political blogs since Martins debacle of a speech... BBC is the ONLY one without a post Martin speech far. freedom of speech dead at the BBC by any chance?.... truth too much for yous?... 5pm still no post Martin speech comment here.... shame on you!! if you are looking to compete with other blogging sites... you're too late... sad to see this from such an institution... maybe time for new broom to clear out the chaff here too

  • Comment number 77.

    It is far more important to get rid of Mervyn King, The MPC, Nick Macpherson and the FSA than Speaker Martin - this whole expenses thing is a diversionary tactic by the rich and powerful financial community to get attention away from their antics. (Just consider who owns The Telegraph!)

  • Comment number 78.

    Gordon Brown cannot say it is not a matter for the government, but for MPs to decided if he exercises the power of governemnt to block a debate on the speakers future.

    The fact the speaker has not made any comment on his own future today suggest Gordon offered to block or delay the debate. Which is another poltical blunder which will make Labour look worse than the other parties in light of the expense scandal.

    The Speaker needs to go because he has previously shown himself to be in oposition to an open and publicly accountable expense system and has handled these revelations of the past weeks extremly badly, it seems his main concern has been finding the mole who did the public service of releaving just how open to abuse and widly abused the system was. This leak would not have been necessary if the speaker and other MPs (many of whom, surprise, surprise are now implcated in abusing the system) had not stood in opposition to MPs expenses becoming public under the freedom of information act.

    The Speaker going will not restore public trust and he is far from the only person who needs to go, but I certainly would not trust him to lead reforms so if he stays my faith in MPs cannot be restored.

  • Comment number 79.

    Whilst I agree with the sentiment expressed by many here that the solution to this problem is:

    "Disssolve parliament and call an election."

    I would go further to say that the correct solution is to:

    "Disssolve parliament and simply leave it as that"

    Mp's are always talking about 'getting value for money' - well in the last 30 years we have had:

    2 (or maybe 3) wars we didn't want or need
    Millions wasted on trying to fix public services by simply throwing money at the top end
    The selling off on the cheap of our utilities, Rail and other previous national assets - which I now pay for with inflated costs relative to my earnings
    The constant cosying up to the US in an embarassing 'lap dog' way
    The alienation of the british worker
    The collapse of the UK's reputation across the world
    The failure to protect us against terrorism - except by proposing the reduction of liberty
    ....I could go on - it's been 30 years...

    I reckon it's cost me about £450,000 in tax

    Collectively it's cost us millions, some of which was spent on moat cleaning, paying interest on mortgage free properties, mole hunting, gin, chauffeur driven jaunts, some MP's wife's dresses, plasma TV for 'watching SKY news'.....the list is endless.

    Now is this value for money? I don't think so at all.

    So when do we get to do to the Government what it has been doing to our institutions for years?


    Just as they are claiming the post office needs selling off because it's not making money - we need to shut Parliment down because it is costing us more than it provides.

    I've NEVER met ANYONE who has actually got any assistance from their MP - I'm sure it does happen, but not on the level you think it does.

    My poor old ma is always writing to her MP and all she gets is a patronising reply which tells her basically 'sorry - that's tough' and it's not even written by the MP himself - but one of his 'staff'.



    Being ruled from the centre is no better than a 'shared dictatorship'.

  • Comment number 80.

    Like most people I am spitting blood at the spectacle of a so called speaker pouring scorn on both ourselves and decent members of parliament who want the unscrupulous MP's kicked out and sorted out.

    I have no doubt that Brown instigated this for while this speaker is in post he is protecting those that should be suspended and investigated.

    Over their years in power this Labout party have made new rules to suit themselves and even seasoned parliamentarians must be wondering how this was allowed to happen.

    It is now an authoritarian state where no one can dislodge alleged criminals and fraudsters from the safety of parliament.

    Parliament as we have always known it is in such a state of disrepute when some of those elected to it have no respect for it.

    Unprecedented times will need unprecedented measures. Someone will have to find a way.

  • Comment number 81.

    One thing we can all do - sign the petition on the Downing Street site for an immediate General Election.

  • Comment number 82.

    What option does Brown have? He has to allow such a debate. not to would appear to be pullling up the drawbridge. He'd make many MP's, not to mention the public apoplectic.

    Besides all of that, given Michael Martin's action or otherwise in recent events, it is simply the right and correct thing to do. And THAT is the real reason a debate should take place.

    On a related issue, I think Cameron's election petition wheeze is the most appalling opportunism. He also seems to have overlooked, in his claims that the system is 'paralysed', to have conveniently overlooked the fact that his own party are part of the problem. How exactly would a blue vote make a significant difference? I think we can guess the answer. The super soaraway Sun might be telling him that the Conservatives will win a landslide, but if I were 'Dave', I'd be rather more careful. I don't think any party would come out of an election campaign without suffering extensive damage from the electorate. Just look at the treatment meted out to all comers on Question Time last Thursday night. An election campaign would make that particular spectacle look like a children's tea party.

  • Comment number 83.

    The recent allegations that another MP has played the system by continuing to claim mortgage interest after having repaid the mortgage, with the apparent blessing of authorities under the control of the Speaker, is doing my head in!.

    My first thought was that this is disgusting. My second is that it is still disgusting, but are such MPs any worse than those who could afford to repay their mortgage but choose not to do so and continue to claim mortgage interest. If not why should a wealthy MP be discriminated against in comparison with a poor one.

    Perhaps the expenses row is not quite as clear cut as many posters would have us believe. What is clear is that we need a change of system and we need it soon.

  • Comment number 84.

    Perhaps the Speaker said, 'Well, Gordon, we're going have it all out in the open with a searchable online database published on a web-site, just like the Scottish Parliament do'.

    Yep - that's the way to do it!

  • Comment number 85.

    No I don't think Esther Rantzen should be an MP either. She is just rattling around, in the jungle, on Strictly etc. just her own way of occupying herself - can't jump on the politics bandwagon too, it's people's lives that will be affected.

    I think we should have professional advisors in parliament from big industries - with due security and realistic expenses which are not meant to augment their salaries.

  • Comment number 86.

    #36 blogbag

    Not sure what you have against Esther Rantzen. She set up the charity [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]Childline (if that's not a 'real' job, I don't know what is!) and is also involved in [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]Burma Campaign UK

    She has also been a fearless fighter for consumer rights. It's a great pity we don't have more people like that standing for Parliament!

  • Comment number 87.

    General Election Now!

  • Comment number 88.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 89.

    The flaming torches and pitchforks are getting closer. What MPs need now is a token Gesture.

  • Comment number 90.

    To quote Churchill

    Never in the field of Political Conflict
    Has so much been blamed
    By so many onto so few (one in fact).

    This is just loathsome behaviour, to try to deflect so much of the blame at Martin rather than accept some responsibillity themselves just shows you how dirty politics can be.

    An apt analogy for me is watching a pack of fox hounds tearing a fox to shreds. At least they have the defence of being dumb animals....then again.

    And how's that for timing on Cameron's petition, talk about Brass Neck to try to benefit from something where your party stinks as much as anyone elses. But hey lets not worry about those awkward policy thingys that people keep asking about, when there's a perfectly good bandwaggon to ride on.

  • Comment number 91.



  • Comment number 92.


    "Brown cannot afford any bye-elections as they might threaten his own position (not that it is not already under threat). I Martin goes, there is a risk of a bye-election so Brown is probably keen he [Martin] tried to sit it out."

    Can't see that, an (ex) Speaker wouldn't have to be elevated to the Lords immediately, as long as his consistency business could be carried out - via written questions etc. - he doesn't have to attend the Chamber (so no embarrassment there), there has been many cases were either an ill or otherwise indisposed MP has not attended Westminster and cases where a deceased MPs seat hasn't had the writ (for a by-election) brought before the house for some months after their death. Brown could go on for months without 'MP Martin'. The only problem an PM might face is when, like in '79, their majority is all but non existent, Brown isn't in that situation, and you never know, one of the other parties might offer a 'pairing' as a deal just to sort all this out...

  • Comment number 93.

    ''The Speaker is also responsible for the running of much of Parliament - including the Fees Office'' BBC website

    Quite appart from Speaker Martins role in trying to block the release of MPs expenses and spending taxpayers money in that attempt, reportedly against legal advice, and his further speaking down to MPs who appear clean and object to his conduct - In view of the fact it would appear that an investigation is needed into the conduct of the Fees Office which is alledged to have encouraged some MPs to make claims outwith the Green Book Rules, in any normal organisation the person responsible for the Fees Office would have been suspended in their role immediately, it would not be a matter of debate, it would be procedure.

    But in this quaint world within a world called Westminster the villagers, barr a few who are treated by the rest as if they were village idiots, appear to think they can defy gravity. Brown as usual appears indecisive.

    Labour hold the majority in parliment and Brown is the elected leader of Labour. Is it really asking too much that he leads for once. Protestations along the lines of I am angry, etc etc, are not enough.

  • Comment number 94.

    List of Past Scapegoats.

    The Jewish Race
    Trade Unions
    Assylum Seekers
    Single Mothers
    The unemployed
    Muslims...........and now

    Michael Martin AKA on Here (and Quentin Lett's column in the Mail, Gorbals Mick) How dare he have ideas above his station.

  • Comment number 95.

    When someone said we had a Scottish mafia running our country I thought it was a joke.

    No longer a joke. This is real.

    Believe you me I just love the Scots but even they wouldn't have this lot running their country. No wonder they voted SNP.

  • Comment number 96.

    The message has gone out, don't put any expenses in.

    Is this a code for - we are in the -



  • Comment number 97.

    #44 redmorgie wrote:

    Our MPs make themselves more and more contemptible.

    This latest ploy of trying to make a scapegoat of the Speaker to divert attention from the greedy claims THEY submitted is pathetic. Sure the speaker shares responsibility but the idea that he MADE them claim for their moats etc is ridiculous.


    This is not a personal criticism but I am getting tired of this short sighted line of arguement.

    Just because you ask for the Speaker to resign does not neccessarily imply that you allow tainted MPs to carry on.

    Forcing the Speaker to resign does not mean he is being made a scapegoat.

    Making the Speaker resign does not divert attention away from moats, swimming pools or tennis courts (see I was able to say those words myself without any hint of embarassment); it merely moves us on the next stage, a GE I hope so that we can have a mass clear out and a New Labour meltdown.

    When the Speaker resigns, it only means that the first step towards restoring public trust begins.

    The MPs decide the future of the Speaker, the people decide the future of MPs.

    In other words, when the Speaker swings in the wind at the city gates, he will be one of the many snouts who will not be returning to Westminster.

    Hopefully, those MPs who are left, having been re-elected at the GE which will follow the Speaker's resignation, will have the nous to know that the people will not tolerate trough-like behaviour in future, will not tolorate anything other than transparency and will have to adopt non-partisan independent bodies to decide future pay structures.

    The march starts on Saturday.


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