They do it with mirrors

The news channels are reporting something before it’s happened again. Predicting the resignation of Michael Martin as Speaker of the House of Commons. Predicting the reactions of other MPs. Predicting the reactions of the newspapers. Predicting the reactions of the public. Martin will be the first speaker to quit in 300 years.

I actually felt sorry for Michael Martin yesterday. Gorbels Mick. Despite his £4,000 taxi fares paid for by the tax payer. Despite his grace and favour flipping. Despite his apparent attempts to snuff out enquiries into MPs’ expenses claims. I watched the live Commons debate before I left for work and thought he’d been served up to the public as a scapegoat. Martin cut midway through his prepared speech by the self-righteous. Heckled and brow-beaten. He looked disorientated. He had nothing to say. He shambled out his words. He halted. He was lost. Live on TV. In front of the nation. He was suddenly being held to account for the venality of the entire House and he knew he had no come back. It was like watching a bear, tied to a post, being pulled to pieces by dogs. The very dogs that he’d tried to protect.

And so the hypocrisy rolls on.



  1. guinnessorig · May 19, 2009

    After all the build-up, I went through into the kitchen for a sandwich and missed Martin’s speech.


  2. GSmudger · May 21, 2009

    My public sector employer recently circulated an email congratulating my unit for submitting expenses claims that were typically honest and proportionate, exceeding standards set by the wider organisation.
    I usually bemoan the lack of positive reinforcement in my line of work, but I could cheerfully forego it when the discipline being addressed is NOT fiddling one’s expenses.
    Propriety matters in public service and more so in law enforcement – is it a tad worrying that I have in effect been congratulated by the Home Office for not filing shady claims?
    Perhaps the unmasking of brazen, institutional venality at the top has made it harder to assert any kind of moral authority over the lower echelons; or maybe it just illustrates the point that while human nature can’t always be legislated for, a system reliant on selfless integrity for the greater good is worryingly fragile.
    By the way, I hope you kept the receipt for that sandwich, as well as the fruit, snacks, condiments and sundries that clearly went with it. If you refrain from sticking a kilo of fois gras on your claim, you’ll probably get a commendation.


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