Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Early Day Motion? Substantive Motion?

Oh, for God’s sake! Does the Speaker not realise that the people do not care about the minutiae of a myriad of motions or piddling parliamentary procedures? A motion was proposed by Douglas Carswell, and it was clearly the express will of Parliament that it be debated. But because it was not ‘substantive’, it could not be. Well, Mr Speaker, the motion was substantive in the eyes of the Deputy Leader of the House, Chris Bryant; it was substantive in the eyes of Parliament and in the eyes of the people. It had substance, basis, existence: it was substantive in every sense except within the trivial confines of your muddled mind. But you had to bend forward to confirm the status of the motion with the Clerk. And he had to repeat it twice as you appeared either to be hard of hearing or (more likely) slow of apprehending. And each and every awkward question which was put to you was embarrassingly referred to your advisers. You were ill-prepared and ill-advised.

Mr Speaker, how can you know so little after nine years in the Chair?

Michael Martin read his prepared speech like an inarticulate pupil stammers his way through a paragraph of The Catcher in the Rye; and was just as ignorant of its social importance, as unaware of the meaning, and as oblivious to the eternal significance of the opus. He bumbled and blundered in a fashion quite unbecoming of his office. He was barracked and heckled from the floor, and responded like a petty tyrant. He looked inadequate, sounded weak, and gave the impression of being way out of his depth. Despite calls for his resignation from all sides of the House, he just did not get the message.

As Mr Speaker has refused to address the issues and appears oblivious of the need to restore the standing of Parliament (what little there remains of it), it is now down to the party leaders who meet with him today to tell him it is time to go. And David Cameron should tell him candidly, irrespective of constitutional niceties, that it is all over. Speaker Martin is not the only sinner in the disgraceful episode of dodgy expenses, but he is manifestly the principal obstruction to reform.

Yet Cranmer would like to remind his readers and communicants that, as incompetent and inadequate as Speaker Martin is, he should not become the sacrificial lamb to cleanse the other reprobates from their heinous sins. The offering is, in any case, not without blemish or flawless, and cannot therefore appease the electoral gods. He may have been responsible for the system, but it predated his speakership and has been immorally and wilfully abused by the likes of Elliot Morley, Andrew Mackay, Julie Kirkbride, Fraser Kemp, David Chaytor, and sundry others. If Speaker Martin is to go, as he must, then so should all of those who defrauded the public purse for their own personal gain.

The party leaders must reject the Speaker’s insistence that we must wait for the Kelly report in the autumn: it is inconceivable that Parliament should be paralysed in this purgatory for a further six months while a report is compiled which will do nothing but confirm that which is already known. Leadership is not merely about the exercising of authority; it is also about the assertion of morality. The the Mother of Parliaments has been reduced to a debauched whorehouse of filchers and frauds is a cause of deep shame, but it is not remotely credible that those who have perpetuated and profited from the system are the right people to reform it.

David Cameron should listen to the people and set aside parliamentary convention. Reformers have to confront the establishment and challenge the status quo, even at the risk of accusations of heresy and on pain of excommunication. He must understand that the Speaker is supposed to symbolise parliamentary unification; his role is to facilitate consensus. But he is now the embodiment of the disconnection that exists between Parliament and the people. This is not a party political issue. Mr Cameron must consider granting formal Opposition support for Douglas Carswell’s motion. If the Government will not place this on the Order Papers, it is for Her Majesty’s Opposition to dedicate its next allotted day to a debate on the issue.

And if the Early Day Motion never becomes a Substantive Motion, then Andrew Motion must pen an ode to the Brownian motion by which Parliament was reduced to a bowel motion.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

As always, your Grace, you encapsulate the arguments very well. BUT I have just heard Cameron on Today and he was awful. So you will not get your wish for leadership from that quarter. The Speaker is not the only one to have completely misread the mood of the public.

19 May 2009 at 08:41  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace,

The Kelly report? In autumn?

Do they not know that the People’s patience is at an end?

The People are waiting for June 4th.

Then the General Election.

And then, if needs be, we’ll take on Cameron and the EU.

19 May 2009 at 09:21  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Martin is Brown's appointee rammed through in breach of convention so Labour has provided The Speaker for the past 17 years - Betty Boothroyd was everything Martin is not.

However it was a Conservative Government when Boothroyd was elected and it did not demand Gleichschaltung, but Brown requires absolute subservience and his party delivered a tribal loyalist as Speaker in breach of convention.

The problems we face are ALL a consequence of Labour's longest uninterrupted period of rule and have destroyed the pillars upon which the polity rests. They have destroyed economy and society, nation and culture - it has been a period of Occupation.

Cameron is surfing on a wave of indignation but he cannot control the tide of events and nor can he steer them

19 May 2009 at 09:25  
Blogger Timothy Belmont said...

Your Grace,

I heard some interesting speculation about Speaker Martin's successor yesterday: Vince Cable MP was even mentioned!


19 May 2009 at 10:15  
Blogger someday said...

Would forcing an adjournment debate work?


19 May 2009 at 10:17  
Anonymous TBF said...

"And if the Early Day Motion never becomes a Substantive Motion, then Andrew Motion must pen an ode to the Brownian motion by which Parliament was reduced to a bowel motion."

Once again, pure brilliance. I am going to write to a few journals to ask them to consider employing you (even if you don't want to be - you're fast becoming a national treasure).

19 May 2009 at 10:20  
Blogger McKenzie said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

19 May 2009 at 10:28  
Blogger McKenzie said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

19 May 2009 at 10:36  
Anonymous Maturecheese said...

I have seen good men resign over the years because of wrongdoings or inadequacies in their departments. It seems that the sense of responsibility, duty and accountability, shown so valiantly in the past, are utterly lost on the shower of individuals that currently occupy Parliament. It is shameful that those who know they should go, refuse to do so, and shows an absolute lack of integrity. What a fine example Parliament is showing to our country and indeed the world.

19 May 2009 at 10:45  
Anonymous the recusant said...

It was embarrassing to watch Speaker Martins performance in the House yesterday, he was clearly uncomfortable and awkward under pressure, in short he was out of his depth. No wonder Obama sent Brown in by the tradesman’s entrance, not since the 70s has the country been so demoralised, what on earth foreign governments made of that performance heaven knows.

When the Speaker becomes the news it is time to go, the House cannot get on with the business of the nation if they are busy arguing about the Speaker. For the good of the nation Mr Speaker do the House one last service, go.

19 May 2009 at 10:58  
Anonymous Maturecheese said...

I understand the speaker is going to make a statement in the house later today in respect of him standing down. I hope he is going to go immediately as leaving it to the next election, whenever that may be, will not be good enough. He has to go now as do quite a few MP's and then there needs to be a police investigation into some of the worst expense claims.

19 May 2009 at 11:42  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace,

The recusant asked:

‘…what on earth foreign governments made of that performance heaven knows.’

The European Union’s government is deeply disappointed with Mr Speaker and the other expense claimants in Parliament.

EU rules are clear and transparent:

1. Expense claims are an internal matter for the EU – not for the press and taxpayer;
2. Therefore, expenses are not published; and
3. Given that expenses are not published it is illogical to produce receipts (reducing carbon footprint).

19 May 2009 at 13:03  
Anonymous Penny said...

I have little time for Speaker Martin, but surely those indignant Members calling for his resignation weren't completely in the dark about the manner in which expenses were dealt with?

19 May 2009 at 16:07  

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