The Speaker of the House of Commons upholds the nation's liberties; the Speaker, it seems, is also now charged with upholding the honour of the honourable members of the Commons.
Tomorrow Great Britain is promised a fresh start, a clean sweep, by those who would blame the departing Speaker, Mr Martin, for the crisis that has enveloped the House. This, to my aged eyes, does not seem a likely event.
Indeed it is a matter of concern that the prime candidate for the majority party, the socialists, is tainted in many respects. I refer to Mrs Beckett, who does not appear to be a parliamentarian who is independent of the government; indeed she has been Foreign Secretary, Leader of the Commons and prior to that deputy leader of the Labour Party. Today we are told, in addition, that she has charged the taxpayer for her gardening expenses to the sum total of almost £11,000.
At the heart of the liberty of the nation, is the right to be represented on the matter of taxation. It is incumbent on those elected by the people to stand as guardians of the exchequer, watchers of the great departments of state and indeed of the Royal coffers. The British nation has fought at least two wars on this principle, and in both wars the State has lost the right to levy taxation without appropriate representation.
It does not seem to me therefore that this fundamental liberty should be upheld by one who is cavalier with the nation's finances. Indeed it would appear that hardly any of those who would aspire to this ancient post are untainted by the present problems and questions, including that most distinguished Liberal, Mr Beith, even if an innocent explanation for Mr Beith's alleged transgression springs readily to mind.
It would appear, therefore, it was a mistake to remove the hapless Mr Martin with such haste and seek to make him a scapegoat for the widespread abuse of tax revenue. I do not blame those such as Mr Clegg who sought his removal. I lay blame at the door of the Prime Minister, who cannot see that he presides over a discredited parliament and that, regardless of the outcome, it is time that democracy took its course and that the people of Great Britain were given a chance to elect men and women of probity.
I spare some sympathy for Mr G. Brown as it is indeed true, as he has stated, that the consequences might be chaotic and unsettling. It is also not apparent that the British people are equipped to distinguish the honest from the dishonest, candidates of principle from chancers. Sadly, however, the present Parliament has lost its authority and is unlikely to regain it tomorrow.
* I note, with sadness, that the Liberal Democrat Party has been embroiled in a matter of receiving substantial sums from a gentleman who defrauded a number of individuals. It is disturbing that the party spokesman states it has no legal obligation to make provision for repayment. It is most likely that this statement is correct; for the party must have believed that the donation came from properly earned profits. It has now learned this was not the case.
It seems to me that the party should align itself with this individual's other creditors and offer to pay a portion of this sum to the administrator of his estates as if owed the whole sum by the aforesaid Mr M. Brown.