Monday, May 18, 2009

Speaker, Scams, Scalps And Shame

Disgraced commons ringmaster and gatekeeper of MPs' expenses fiddles, speaker Michael Martin, is clinging to his job like a limpet today, as moves to bring him to parliamentary justice and oust him gain support. 

Only his cronies in the New Labour ruling party are rallying round to support troughing Martin who's brought shame and a plague on both their houses. But getting rid of this arrogant, greedy bully is only a start. 

'Gorbals Mick' was already in the thick of it well before he came under fire today - a national disgrace even before revelations he was up to his neck in the scam to use MPs' expenses to feather their own nests. Troughing with the worst of them, he came to epitomise everything that's rotten in the failed and discredited New Labour brand.

The Sunday Times has revealed how he waged a "reign of terror" over expenses, bullied staff who raised objections and "reacted violently" to suggestions about his own shoddy house claims practice, while lording it up in his cushy commons  grace and favour home.

Now the Telegraph has revealed how his tight cabal of expenses gatekeepers feathered their own nest at the taxpayers expense. That highly serious claim that the commons authorities colluded with some MPs to allow them to over-claim for mortgage interest payments is one of the most serious of the recent MPs' expenses revelations and takes corruption to the very heart of Westminster.

As the man in charge of the fees office that came up with this fraud fiddle, Martin must be the last man on earth to be put in charge of a commons clean-up. Any hope of reform is impossible while such an arrogant, greedy man remains in office. 

A motion of no confidence by honest Tory backbencher Douglas Carswell calling on the speaker to quit, now backed by LibDem leader Nick Clegg, is gaining support.

An angry public will not forgive MPs if the smokescreens and spinners finally win the day. Why on earth Cameron doesn't just get on with it and table that motion of no confidence in the government now is anyone's guess. 

But many MPs and Tories in particular are caught between a rock and hard place. Speaking up for the office of speaker on the one hand but not the man. 

Brown's pal Martin has form at the centre of moves to block reform of the rotten MPs' expenses culture of deceit and downright fraud. 

Ever since Brown pushed for his controversial appointment eight years ago, taking over from respected Tiller Girl turned commons school ma'am, Betty Boothroyd, Martin had a hand in destroying the once cherished reputation of a parliament whose reputation now lies in tatters.

It was Martin who led the fight to prevent the publication of MPs' expense claims in the first place, presided over the abuse of expenses and the cover-up in the house of shame, fighting tooth and nail to block the details of MPs' expenses being revealed under the Freedom of Information laws. 

It was Martin who cow-towed to his New Labour cronies and made a mockery of the traditional non-partisan role in commons debate. 

And when the lid finally blew off the whole rotten scam, it was Martin who called for police to be brought in to track down the public-spirited whistleblower who handed the damning damaging  disk over to the Telegraph.

Martin edited the 'Green Book' on MPs' allowances claims, giving greedy MPs the perks to grown fatter and the expenses rip-off culture to take root, rot and fester. 

With no sense of shame, the snarling speaker rounded on a handful of decent and honourable MPs - such as Labour's Kate Hoey and the LibDem Norman Baker - who had the cheek to challenge the corruption in parliament.

Getting rid of the commons speaker will not solve all the problems of the commons. It is a start - but only a start. But it's the future of the government and the rotten bunch of MPs from all parties which hangs in the balance, not just the speaker. 

The Orange Party's concern is that this will be all flammed up as a scalp, a scapegoat and a smokescreen which will put an end to the squalid expenses fiddles, which of course it won't. 

The public doesn't understand or even care about his role as the commons ringmaster or the gatekeeper of the scandalous MPs' expenses. But they do see him as part of the problem. The problem has always been that speaker Martin does not even understand there is a problem.

Brown and his bunch of chancers, spivs and crooks must be biting their finger nails down to the quick. 

The problem for Brown is that the speaker's ignominious sharp exit would trigger a by-election and with that comes the risk of another embarrassing SNP victory. 

With the speaker gone, pressure to dissolve parliament and call a snap election will reach fever pitch, leaving the ruling New Labour party facing certain annihilation at the ballot box. 

Martin will want to keep his job today, for the good of his wallet and his New Labour cronies, promising to retire at the next general election and oversee the commons expenses and allowances reform. And who can blame him? 'Gorbals Mick' stands to receive a £100,000 golden handshake and a cushy peerage if he remains in his job until the election.

As the storm clouds continue to gather over Westminster, trust in parliament and democracy has to be restored somehow.  It is essential for the health of the nations that it does. 

But what has become blindingly obviously to the Orange Party stated  here yesterday and many others including Murdoch's Sun, is that the only solution to the mess and mire is to dissolve parliament and call a snap general election to restore public faith in parliamentary democracy. 

Only the blinkered and the blind followers of a discredited New Labour brand are desperately trying to cling on to an increasingly bitter end. 

Top Picture: Private Eye

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