Simon Carr: Mr Speaker can never be the same again

The Sketch

How can the Speaker continue? He’s been butchered. His reputation has been rendered. If you remember, we left him on Wednesday, flailing for his life on the Speaker’s throne. He offered two parliamentary remedies to the arrest of that Tory MP – a debate, and a committee appointed by himself.

Since then, the Leader of the House has been on television refusing half a dozen times to confirm her confidence in him, the debate he offered has been hijacked by the Government, and his committee has snapped into action by adjourning itself before it’s been constituted. Nor will he be choosing it himself – it is “to represent the composition of the House” (ie, it will have a voting majority of toadies, placemen, sycophants, careerists and yes-persons). He has been so comprehensively undermined that he was nodding in agreement when Theresa May made some of these observations. You can’t imagine how complete the cultural collapse has to be for that old cannibal to be nodding agreement with Theresa the Tory.

He is now a creature of the executive. A proper Speaker would shoot himself. One of the advantages of Mr Martin not being a proper Speaker is that we are spared the drama.

Against all the evidence (I mean the five pints of nastiness I’ve poured on him over the years), I quite like him. He has courage, and that’s always admirable. He’s overcome |the odds to rise to a great position. In his heyday he faced down the Prime Minister and the bellowing Chancellor. And he can keep order in the House. But he’s been rolled. Bundled. Trampled. He’s been treated with such contempt – and by his own people – that no one can look at him in the same way again.

Jacqui Smith’s statement did little to calm the situation – rather the opposite. There was shouting. Three times, proper, red-faced, deep-chested yelling from one side. And a number of high-minded points from the other. Which party was saying what? It doesn’t matter: after the next election the arguments will be the same but the proponents will be reversed. But three questions raised the voltage in the debate. Did the police now have access to the parliamentary server – and thereby to all MPs’ emails? If the charges were so serious, why weren’t they laid under the Official Secrets Act? And come to that, how many of the 20 leaks claimed by the Home Secretary actually involved national security?

The Home Secretary’s response to that produced two great reactions. The first when she said that the answer was in a police letter laid in the Commons Library. And the second, when it was revealed the letter in question made no reference to that at all. I like this brouhaha. It shows how far we have come in the last 10 years