Speaker Martin is accountable to the Commons, not the BBC

YESTERDAY the BBC left a voicemail message for me. Could I call them back to help in a piece of research being carried out by The World This Weekend?

No. And I didn’t. Word of advice to BBC researchers: when leaving a voicemail message for an MP, offer some information on what the subject matter is – no MP worth his salt will return a call just because you want to ask him “a few questions”.

Having said that, it was pretty obviously going to be a question about Michael Martin. And so it came to pass: the BBC got the story they were looking for, though with less justification than they would ideally have liked.

Of those who did take part, 32 – just short of five per cent of the total House of Commons membership – told the programme makers what they wanted to hear, namely that they had lost confidence in the Speaker. How many of that 32, I wonder, are among those (mostly Tory) MPs who have never reconciled themselves to Michael Martin’s speakership, or who have won a few headlines by adopting the cause of getting rid of him as their “thing”?

Unpopular though this may be, I agree with Matthew Parris’s view that the appointment and subsequent accountability of the Speaker is a matter for MPs and MPs alone, not the BBC’s and not even the public’s.

I hope that all the external media pressure on Michael Martin will have the effect it deserves to have: none. It’s one thing for a political party to seek to bully the police into abandoning a criminal investigation into one of its MPs; it’s quite another for the media to seek to hound the democratically-elected Speaker of the House of Commons out of his job.



Filed under Conservative Party, Parliament

16 responses to “Speaker Martin is accountable to the Commons, not the BBC

  1. Johnny Norfolk

    Speaker Martin is and has always has been way out of his depth. He cannot read properly, he is biased to his own party. He is unable to understand what the true roll of the Speaker is.
    He undermines the credibility of the Speakers position.

    You may not be able to see it Tom but we all can. Again party loyalty before the national interest.

  2. BabaMzungu

    Hello Tom
    According to the BBC website, 130 (20%), not 32 as you state answered the questionnaire.
    36 MPs disagreed that the Speaker should stand down 56 said they still had confidence in him.
    Mind you, it doesn’t say who the MPs were, just that they had tried to contact all backbenchers.

  3. Rapunzel

    It seems to me that there is a horrible culture of bullying at present. Radio presenters bully comedians, song and dance judges bully contestants, daytime TV programmes, which I can’t even bring myself to name, use bear-baiting techniques in their encouragement of bullying, opposition parties attempt to bully the police, the press bully anyone and everyone, egged on by their readers, the blogosphere is full of bullies who cannot string a reasoned argument together, but use insults, name calling, humiliation and verbal abuse to put their points across. Even Prime Minister’s Question Time is not exempt.

    The bullies I have had to deal with in real life are almost invariably sad, insecure characters with very low self-esteem. They seek power, not influence, at any price, are manipulative and cunning and often surround themselves with “admirers”, who do their bidding out of fear or a weird admiration. Their victims are usually unwilling or unable to stand up to them, and the weaker they appear, the greater the bully’s glee.

    However, I believe that the great majority of us can recognise bullying when we see it and despise it for what it is. That’s why, in the end, we stand against it.

  4. BabaMzunga – you wrote: “130 (20%), not 32 as you state answered the questionnaire.”

    I never said 32 took part – I said that of those who took part, only 32 said they had lost confidence in the Speaker.

  5. Hear hear! It’s pretty disgusting behaviour so far (and that goes for Bob Marshall-Andrews as much as the many Tories).

    The Speaker is the Speaker, you elected him for good or ill. That he wasn’t substantially involved in ‘Greengate’ (ahem!) makes all the noise even more nauseating to hear.

    Until the question “did Green break the law” is answered, all the rest is nonsense anyway. That is of course the question the Tories really don’t seem to want to be asked, hence all the of the Green smokescreen.

  6. Madasafish

    Of course Martin is responssible to the House Of Commons.

    Just as the police are responsible to J Smith.

    So to suggest bullying of either Martin or teh police – if it occurs- cannot work – EXCEPT if the House Of Commons or Smith let it.

    So basically what Tom is saying is:
    The House Of Commons will not be bullied by the BBC.

    J Smith will be bullied by the Conservatives.

    Words fail me.

  7. Saw the “shock horror” headline scrolling across the BBC News 24 TV screen as we tucked into our breakfast at a Manchester hotel this morning.

    “Ah ha” I remarked to Mrs Hughes “I’m pleased to see that more than 600 MPs either support the present Speaker or have no very strong opinion or were sensible enough not to rise to the BBC bait.”

    I wonder if they considered going with “600+ MPs don’t want to ditch the Speaker”. But I don’t wonder for long…

  8. This is a classic political scandal i.e. the public couldn’t care less.

    I don’t think anyone comes out of this looking well. The Speaker really shouldn’t have blamed staff but equally the Tories can’t quite impact on a police investigation in the way they have tried to do.

    I’m also inclined to think that both sides seem to have just written it off to their ‘staff’ given Michael Martin’s comments but also the fact that Damien Green says the Home Office should sack his (alleged) source.

    Oh and people making frankly snobbish and insulting comments about Speaker Martin should really acquaint themselves with irony i.e. if he really can’t read it’s maybe because he listens to people who talk about the true ‘roll’ as opposed to ‘role’ of the speaker.

    P.S. And yes, this is perfectly spelled and punctuated.

  9. Excuse me for having an opinion on the matter. I will defer to your wisdom on the matter and stop caring about whether an institution that makes the laws that I to obey is discharging its duties in a manner that befits it.

    I might as well give up voting as well.

  10. reason_please


    I’ll do you the favour of assuming that you are just no good at statistics and you are not spinning. The BBC story said that out of 90 MPs who replied, 32 expressed no confidence in Speaker Martin.

    That is 35% of those asked. 17 were tory, 15 were Lib/Lab/Other. So scaling that up to 630MPs would give

    35% x 630 = 220 no confidence
    17/32 x 220 = 117 tories
    8/32 x 220 = 55 labour
    7/32 x 220 = 48 Lib/Other

  11. reason_please: Last time I checked, 32 was still less than 5 per cent of the total membership of the Commons. “Scaling up would give…” Scaling up! This wasn’t an opinion poll, mate – only 32 MPs in total said they had no confidence in the Speaker. What a prat you are.

  12. Tacitus

    Well, bullying eh? Must be horrid for New Labour to be bullied, after 11 years of bullying everyone else.
    My hear bleeds.

    Tom, he’s not up to the job. And that in turn demeans (what’s left of) Parliament, and hence, our “democracy”.

    I was, however, impressed by the report which said that various Labour MPs were attempting to knock up deal whereby in return for him stepping down, his son would be the Labour candidate for his constituency.

    Long, deep, sigh

  13. Tacitus

    Why would it be unpopular to agree with Matthew Parris? He speaks eminent sense, especially on the matter of parliamentary democracy (and it’s destruction by the New Labour junta).

    OT. Ms. Merkel’ pissed off Gordo hadn’t she, by refusing to be bullied by him. Now she’s not invited to his tea party. Odd really, as it would seem that Germany knows how to run an economy even after the huge hit of “taking back” the old GDR, they have a current account balance in the black.

    What a petty little tyrant your boss is, Tom.

  14. Brian Hall

    Your post is fundamentally incorrect, you make the assertion yet again that (Labour) politicians are above questioning, investigation and public confidence.

    Isn’t this the opposite of what you were claiming with regards to Damien Green as he is Tory?

    Do note in your response that there has been no evidence of a crime being committed, or we would have heard it by now, merely allegations of such by the government.

    Also note that it is impossible to ‘groom’ an adult unless they are vulnerable.

  15. Sid

    “only 32 MPs in total said they had no confidence in the Speaker. What a prat you are.”

    By the same token only 56 MP’s said they still had confidence in him – out of 646 MP’s to have the confidence of only 56 is, even you must admit, a bit of a disaster.

  16. Spartan

    Churchill was misquoted … the actual quote was …’The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with an average MP’

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