Nick Clegg has taken the historic step of demanding — as a party leader — that the speaker of the House should go. William Hague declined to be as forthright, in his capacity as de facto Tory deputy, but he made it clear that he believes the same thing.
Michael Martin’s conduct has been the poorest of all those not directly implicated in the scandal itself. As a figure independent of government, he should have led the calls for Freedom of Information, and should have led the House (not the government) to deal with people who have made potentially fraudulent claims, or who have arranged their affairs in order to make a profit from the public purse.
Instead, he silenced the voices of dissent.
Martin should go, and he should actually go — not sit around as a back bencher collecting his salary, but leave parliament altogether and make his way in the world.
And then others should go. Not everyone. Certainly not everyone ‘fingered’ by the Daily Telegraph, which seems to have set itself up as an arbiter of what is acceptable and what is not acceptable.
For me, three groups of MPs should leave right now:
Others can stay — as far as the General Election. Though I’m sure that many, especially older MPs, will choose to stand down rather than face the music. A landslide defeat, which is what many of them will face, will seem an unattractive prospect as the end of their political careers.
As far as I am concerned, suspending people from the government, or from the shadow cabinet, or from their parliamentary parties, is not enough. Those who failed in their duty as MPs must cease to be MPs.