Last week we learnt that David Cameron vetoed a vote of no confidence in The Speaker and up until this morning there had been a reluctance on the part of all MPs to criticise Michael Martin. MPs have been afraid to criticise the man who calls them in debates and for questions. Thankfully one MP has broken ranks in today's Mail on Sunday and called for The Speaker to go. Here is a key extract from what Douglas Carswell MP has written for the MoS:
"At a recent constituency coffee morning, an elderly lady demanded to know if it were true that "you MPs have spent a fortune on lawyers to keep your expenses secret". I haven't, but the Speaker has. And that, surely, is the point. I am a Member of the House of Commons, yet the 'men-in-tights' have acted without giving either me, or my colleagues, a real say as to how they have handled this mess.
No other MPs have so far been willing to speak out. I am the first. Apparently, I am told, it's "just not cricket". It's "not what one does if one wants to get on". Besides, don't I know that if I upset him, Mr Speaker might not call me to speak in a debate again? Well, I'm trying to represent my constituents, not play cricket. I am not in politics to "get on" but to speak up. And if Mr Speaker does take umbrage and not call on me to speak, surely that merely reinforces the point I am trying to make? Too many MPs, alas, simply don't get it. There is too much tearoom talk of "media witch-hunts" and "irresponsible journalists"."
Douglas - who writes regular posts for CentreRight.com - believes that Parliament needs radical reform. He uses his article to attack the MPs who are slaves to the executive in the hope of one day becoming "minister for widgets". He calls for the chairmen of Select Committees to be chosen by free votes of all MPs and not by the Whips. He says most big government departments are now run by unaccountable officials and too many UK powers have been lost to Europe. He calls for electors to have the right to "recall" "wayward" MPs during a Parliament. He also believes that the public should be able to petition Parliament and put issues on to its agenda for debate.
And in wanting all of this Mr Carswell sees the Speaker as an opponent of real modernisation and reform. Douglas is right. The sooner the Speaker is replaced, the better.