Socialist Worker

House of Commons Speaker resigns - who’s next?

Issue No. 2152

Michael Martin became the first commons speaker in more than 300 years to resign on Tuesday.

The last one to go was Sir John Trevor in 1695 when he was found guilty of accepting a bribe.

As a different kind of sleaze leads to the end of another speaker, in one sense at least, the traditions of parliament are being kept alive.

Martin has said over other scandals that any attack on him was “an attack on every working class person from Clydeside”.

That is nonsense. The House of Commons is full of many an anti-working class snob.

But Martin is the first major victim of the expenses scandal because he was, in part, overseeing, and, in part, benefiting from it.

MPs are looking for a scapegoat for their own gluttony, which shows how worried they are.

The Westminster consensus – that profit is good – has left them feathering their nests while lecturing the rest of us on tightening our belts.

The crisis at the heart of the political system runs deep because it is symbolic of the lack of legitimacy of the “mother of parliaments”.

This is not just about the stench of corruption as politicians have handed more and more control over to business.

It is shining a light on the reality of democracy in our system.

Real democracy is about having control over our lives and a real say about what happens in society.

Even in its ideal form, parliamentary democracy is a pale shadow of that.

The perks and the second homes are simply the tips the loyal politicians take as part of running the system – not in the interests of all as they claim, but in the interests of the rich.

Standing out against the sewer of sleaze running through parliament means not simply dumping one or two crooks but fighting for real democracy.

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