British MPs have been proposing differing ways of restoring parliament’s reputation, after the House of Commons was rocked by the Speaker’s announcement he is to stand down. Michael Martin said he will leave next month. Parliamentarians from all parties forced him out, furious at the way he had handled the ongoing scandal over personal expenses many MPs have been claiming. They believe he did not do enough to reform the system.
Labour MP Kate Hoey, who signed a no-confidence motion in the Speaker, said: “Just the Speaker going doesn’t change the terrible anger out there and we need to reflect on the kind of Speaker we want and the changes that we can introduce as quickly as possible.” The leader of the opposition Conservatives is way ahead of the ruling Labour party in the polls, and maintained his pressure for an early general election. David Cameron said: “What we need is not just a new speaker, we need a new parliament. We need people to have the chance in a general election to pass judgement on their politicians.” The Prime Minister insisted the problems in parliament were not diverting him from dealing with the UK’s worst recession since World War Two, but they had to be addressed nonetheless. “Westminster cannot operate like some gentlemen’s club where the members make up the rules and operate them among themselves,” Gordon Brown said. But there is another headache for the government with Michael Martin’s departure. He is also quitting his seat, and that will mean a by-election when an already disaffected electorate will be able to pass their verdict on the goings-on in Westminster.