Leading article: The Speaker answers back

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The Independent Online

If you can't speak your mind on your last day in the job, when can you? Michael Martin might have been hounded from office, accused of bumbling and weakness and, after nine years in the chair, of not being up to the high calling of the Commons Speakership. But he wasn't going without telling his colleagues in no uncertain terms that the feeling was mutual. They might be disappointed with him, but so was he with them.

If only, he said, the party leaders had encouraged their MPs to accept the reform proposals made by his committee this time last year, they could have saved themselves – and by implication himself as Speaker – a great deal of trouble. You can appreciate Mr Martin's desire not to go down in history as the author of Parliament's shame. But he can't avoid becoming the first speaker to be forced from the post for more than 300 years. For all the kindly accolades offered by MPs yesterday, that is how Speaker Martin will feature in the record books.