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Parliament needs more Douglas Carswells

Carswell Douglas Douglas Carswell MP is often unpopular with his colleagues.  They didn't like the way he has criticised the Speaker and outdated Commons practice.  Some resent the way that he has attacked the state's cosy relationships with the defence procurement industry.  They attack him for his "purist" approach to decentralisation of power (set out, with Dan Hannan, in the brilliant The Plan).  They don't like his independence of spirit.  And, of course, they are jealous of the publicity he wins. 

His campaign against the Speaker was well ahead of the curve.  If other MPs had acted with him earlier we might have avoided some of the current difficulties.  We might have had a Speaker who would have led the Commons to reform, rather than been a roadblock to it.  Douglas Carswell's call for Michael Martin to go now has the backing of MPs from other parties.  And The Guardian (and Telegraph) endorses his campaign this morning:

"Time and again Martin has pulled down the shutters, exploiting sweeping powers under the Freedom of Information Act. The indulgence of MPs' private interests is all the less tolerable because it has been coupled with a failure to stand up for the authority of parliament as an institution – as was seen when the police were given carte blanche to raid the office of Damian Green. Patience finally snapped on Monday, when the Speaker effectively surrendered his role as an impartial chair and rounded on two MPs for having the audacity to wash Commons linen in public. The institutional failings revealed by the expenses scandal unquestionably go far wider than any one individual. But to put these right the house must learn to open up. And the last few years provide ample evidence that this will require fresh leadership."

Follow Douglas on his essential blog.  Yesterday he was urging other MPs to stop the private briefings against Michael Martin and come out from the shadows:

"No matter what my views about the Speaker, one thing I find awful are the number of anonymous briefings I now read in newspapers about the need to "hand Mr Martin a revolver blah blah".  If you don't think he's up to the job, say it.   Be frank, be straight forward and be prepared to take the consequences.  I've a growing list of MPs who are. Knifing people in the back isn't the way to begin cleaning up SW1."

Tim Montgomerie


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