Speaker announces he is quitting

Discussion in 'Politics' started by dong20, May 19, 2009.

  1. dong20

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    "Michael Martin is to step down as Speaker on Sunday June 21 following unprecedented criticism over his handling of the expenses scandal.

    A very short emergency statement to a packed Commons came ahead of crisis talks on MPs' expenses with Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Tory leader David Cameron and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg."

    Speaker announces he is quitting - Yahoo! News UK

    Took him long enough.:rolleyes:

    I wonder who will be candidates to replace him ... in order of likely success (at least IMO)
    • Richard Shepherd (a reformer, acceptable to both sides)
    • Frank Field (bit of a loose cannon, mouthy and no yes man - probably upset a few too many in Labour but a great 'trojan horse' for [likely] incoming Tories!!)
    • Sir George Young (a little too ... establishment)
    • Sir Alan Haselhurst (deputy speaker, a safe pair of hands - thus probably a no)
    • Sir Menzies Campbell (respected, but probably blew his chance with dodgy expense claim of his own)
    • John Bercow (potential party switcher, moderniser ... outsider)
    It's a crap shoot ... with public sentiment being what it is, the speaker needs to be squeaky clean (is that possible?) and anti establishment, pro FOI and accountablity.

    Makes for a short shortlist.
     
  2. jason_els

    jason_els <img border="0" src="/images/badges/gold_member.gi

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    I nominate Dame Edna! She'd look great in robes.
     
  3. vince

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    I agree. Unfortunately she's Australian.
     
  4. jason_els

    jason_els <img border="0" src="/images/badges/gold_member.gi

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    She's still a member of the Commonwealth... does that count for anything? And maybe an Aussie is just what Commons needs to keep them down-to-earth.

    The only other reasonable choice would be Jeremy Clarkson but I want him to keep doing Top Gear.
     
  5. YBNB

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    Like you say, Frank Field would be a good fulcrum for the incoming Tories. It's inevitable. But he's too openly at odds with Labour.

    It's going to be Sir George Young by the looks of things. The whole Etonian thing drags him down, but really he is almost the favourite seemingly because he is the best of a bad bunch.
     
  6. houtx48

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    we have a slew of misfits here in the US we could loan you.
     
  7. jason_els

    jason_els <img border="0" src="/images/badges/gold_member.gi

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    Pardon my ignorance here, but is the speaker pulled from the ranks of the Commons, Lords, or someplace else? What are the qualifications and just what does the speaker do aside from choosing questioners during PM's Q&A (which is all we get to see of parliament short of the openings here on US TV). Does the person have to be an independent and does becoming speaker strip a person of their party affiliations?

    In truth, I thought the speaker was just something of a referee; someone who keeps parliament on agenda, manages scheduling, and oversees the proceedings as the PM desires.
     
  8. dong20

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    Indeed.

    I think it's possible, but I'm unconvinced Parliament would be able to pull off appointing an old Etonian to the position, despite his undoubted cross party support, or as likely, because of it.

    That's not to say he's not the right choice, but he may not be seen as the right choice ... if you see what I mean.

    Right now, it would need a rabid anti establishment reformer to satisfy the public's desire for heads to be rolled - not that this the role of the speaker of course, but such details not always so important to much of the electorate. In the long term such a candidate may not represent the best choice. And with over 300 years between sackings ...

    Politics ...:rolleyes:
     
  9. dong20

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    It's a little more than that ... in practice. The below explains the 'official' line.

    Election of the Speaker
    An MP is elected to the role of Speaker by winning majority support in the Commons. This takes place after every general election or on the death or retirement of the previous Speaker. It is the practice for a Speaker to remain in office until retirement and to be automatically re-elected internally in all Parliaments after their original election. ​

    Politically impartial
    Speakers must be politically impartial. Therefore, on election the new Speaker must resign from their political party and remain separate from political issues even in retirement. However, the Speaker will deal with their constituents' problems like a normal MP. ​

    Speakers and general elections
    Speakers still stand in general elections. They are generally unopposed by the major political parties, who will not field a candidate in the Speaker's constituency - this includes the original party they were a member of. During a general election, Speakers do not campaign on any political issues but simply stand as 'the Speaker seeking re-election'.​

    UK Parliament - The Speaker
     
    #9 dong20, May 19, 2009
    Last edited: May 19, 2009
  10. jason_els

    jason_els <img border="0" src="/images/badges/gold_member.gi

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    Thanks for that Dong!

    It seems odd that the Speaker would have to be impartial yet still represent his or her constituents in political matters. It seems like a conflict of interest. I thought the speaker was a crown appointment on recommendation of the parliamentary leaders of the day; someone perhaps respected and otherwise retired from politics. Guess not.

    Does the speaker have any power? Or is it just keeping order, "Ordah! Ordah!" and following the PM's agenda for the day? Does the speaker, like over here, actually set the agenda him or herself and decide what will and won't be debated?

    I don't mean to be obtuse but I find in British government that official descriptions don't mean terribly much. What one is doesn't necessarily reflect who one is in the power structure. Rather like back in the days of royal France when the Royal Buttwipers were actually very powerful because they had the ear of the king when he was otherwise... occupied.
     
  11. Jason

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    The Speaker has a range of powers. He decides who will (and will not) speak in a debate in the House of Commons. He has to keep order in the Commons - and has a range of punishments he can inflict on MPs to help him keep order. He has a tie-breaker vote. He also has a range of procedural functions, including ultimate responsibility for the running of the system which determines MPs expenses. It is the Speaker who is supposed to stop the police entering the Palace of Westminster, searching MPs offices and arresting MPs while in the Palace of Westminster. The Speaker is subject to very few sanctions - there really isn't a process for kicking him out.

    These are real powers.

    This Speaker seemingly lost control of the Commons yesterday, as we had MPs speaking/shouting from outsid the Chamber. He has lost the respect of many MPs and of many in the country. And in the Damian Green affair he allowed the police into the Westminster office of an MP to search it and arrest the MP. There is a powerful argument that he just had to go, and relief that he's announced he is going. It saves us from trying to find a way to force him out.
     
  12. Joll

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    Is Betty allowed back as a stop-gap?

    I think Margaret Thatcher would've made a brilliant Speaker, if she was younger - and hadn't been PM. :p
     
  13. jason_els

    jason_els <img border="0" src="/images/badges/gold_member.gi

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    Thanks very much Jason! Why are Jasons always such nice people? :tongue:

    So the expense thing comes down to him. Hmmm. I can see why that would get people in a tizzy. I see the Speaker claims that Hill's office was searched and he was arrested without his knowledge. The Speaker claims that the Serjeant-at-Arms acted without the Speaker's approval and has since changed procedures to require the Speaker's assent to such things. I don't know why Ms. Pay still has her job after that breach of law.
     
  14. Drifterwood

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    How about that Wiener Savage guy?
     
  15. midlifebear

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    Isn't there a Tory available with the florid style of Disraeli who might fit the job of blowing over every one's heads with prosaic bullshit? When it comes to the UK, I'm still stuck in the 1800's. I only recently realized that Dame Edna and Margaret Thatcher are not the same person. Give me time to catch up. Give me time.
     
  16. D_Seymour_Dix

    D_Seymour_Dix New Member

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    It's an interesting time for UK politics that's for sure.
     
  17. BiItalianBro

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    Hmmmmmmmm....there is an idea! start outsourcing politicians to other countries :rolleyes:
     
  18. Jason

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    Margaret Thatcher and Betty Boothroyd have both been made peers - they now sit in the House of Lords, not the Commons. They are not eligible to be Speaker.

    Curiously they are both eligible to be Prime Minister - while it hasn't happened for a while, a PM can be either Lord or Commoner. They would need to become leader of their respective parties, and as members of the House of Lords (and if their party was the biggest in the Commons) they would become PM without the messy business of fighting an election.

    As pointed out, Martin was off duty when the police asked permission to enter the House of Commons to search a parliamentary office and arrest Damian Green. However he was in the building, and the police were quite prepared to wait while procedure was sorted out. The chattering classes believe he knew the police were coming before they came (seemingly the Mayor of London got wind of it also), and that it was a decision not to be on duty. The chattering classes see the Green arrest and searching a Westminster office as a threat, implying that anyone who embarrases the Labour government by publishing information about their mistakes risks arrest. Martin should have gone over this matter, but he held on, and it has taken another scandal to get rid of him.

    What is rumbling at the moment is the bigger issue of whether Labour can hang on without calling an election. There are a number of ways of getting an election:
    * Labour must ask the Queen to dissolve parliament (basically Brown and his cronies would have to decide this is right).
    * Labour has to be defeated in a "no confidence" motion - which means Labour MPs would have to vote against Labour. This triggers a request to the Queen to dissolve parliament.
    * The Queen has to dissolve parliament on her own authority. This is the unthinkable option, but she certainly has the constitutional power to do this. It could perhaps be done if she felt this was the will of the country, eg expressed through massive popular protest.

    We will soon be into parliament's long, summer break. Come October almost all legislation parliament will pass will not actually come into law until after the next election. It would be possible for the Conservatives to announce that their first action on coming to government would be to repeal all acts passed from October. As it seems likely that they will get in this would cause paralysis.

    The European and (some) Local Council elections in June may be a disaster for Labour. If so they will have lost legitimacy.

    We have special issues around the EU's Lisbon Treaty. Labour gave a manifesto committment to give the people of Britain a referendum on this very unpopular measure, but they have reneged on this. We are in the curious position that the treaty is now delayed by domestic issues in Ireland and the Czech Republic, matters over which Britain has no control. If they resolve these (and they may well do so) then Britain will automatically have signed up to this Treaty. My view is that we would have a revolution. I think there would be massive protests, civil disobedience and rioting.

    It is unthinkable to boot out a speaker, yet we have done so. It is unthinkable to kick out a government with a massive majority, but we might just do that.
     
  19. dong20

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    Nothing curious at all, Britain already has signed up to the treaty.

    It's a little more than 'domestic issues'; Ireland must hold a second referendum (domestic issues???), the result of which must be a yes for the treaty to come into effect. That result is far from certain as (depending on the poll it's close to a 50:50 split) but the later it's left the more likely I think the result will be a yes.

    There is also legal challenge by Germany in terms of potential constitutional conflicts - although their Parliament has approved it. I believe the Czech and German issues will likely be resolved in June.

    Poland has deferred ratification because their eurosceptic president Kaczynski thinks it's useless, and said won't do so until after Ireland has a second referendum.

    There's so much nonsense talked on both sides of this issue such that it's evident that hardly anyone really knows much about it all. Hardly a basis for informed choice ... so, no change there then.

    It came as no surprise that Labour reneged on the referendum ... I wonder why.:rolleyes: It's yet one more reason they need to be booted out of the Palace.

    Later this year, the media will hype this like crazy of course ... with the doommongers on both sides having their day in the sun, bless their cotton socks. The conservatives will use it as a key election gambit, I can't blame them, though it's wasted on me as I disagree with most of their policies on Europe.

    As for a revolution, once again I think you're overstating the issue. In terms of rioting etc, well there's always segments of any society up for a riot. It might as well be Europe.

    Neither are unthinkable, merely very uncommon.

    A massive majority is potentially bad for democracy whichever party holds it. No party in my lifetime has demonstrated otherwise and while recent events may suggest things might change for the better, at least in some respects, I wouldn't bet on that.
     
  20. Jason

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    Yes, but it is not yet in force. From the Conservative Party website:

    "If the Lisbon Treaty is not yet in force at the time of the next general election, and a Conservative Government is elected, we would put the Treaty to a referendum of the British people, recommending a 'no' vote. If the British people rejected the Treaty, we would withdraw Britain's ratification of it."

    I think they would get a no vote - I really don't think there is much doubt on this. This would of course cause a crisis in the EU.

    The mood of people I speak to is weird. The nearest comparison I can find is the days following Diana's death. People are mightily cheesed off. There is something very un-British about the position. It will be interesting to see how Cameron plays the Euro-election campaign. I'm guessing he will go very Euro-sceptic, and with the present mood I think he might tap some streak of jingoism.
     
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