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Speaker Martin: scapegoat or villain?
The chief officer and highest authority of the House has become a lightning rod for the strong current of anger swirling around Westminster as the row over MPs’ expenses rumbles on.
Never a Fleet Street favourite, Martin has suffered a particularly bad press this month. Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail described Martin’s behaviour, after a statement on expenses last week, as a “puce-cheeked, finger-wagging, dooon’t-you-cross-me-Jimmy tantrum, improper from any chairman of a parish meeting, let along the Speaker of a Commons in crisis”.
Simon Hoggart in the Guardian wrote after Martin’s Commons statement on Monday: “it was gruesome, horrible, pathetic and miserable. The Speaker resembled a boxer totally outfought, tottering numbly around the ring, barely aware of what was happening, staggering into his opponent’s fists, somehow upright, but swaying. He is a dead man reeling. In any humane venue, the referee would have stopped the fight. But he is the referee! And he’s not stopping anything!”
Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg says Martin should go, otherwise he will die a death by a thousand cuts.
But his supporters in the Labour Party say the Speaker is being made a scapegoat for the excesses of MPs on all sies of the House.
What do you think? Is he being unfairly hounded out?