The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Michael Martin resigns

Most Americans probably don't know about the scandal that has ripped through the UK House of Commons. It seems members in all parties stretched their Parliamentary expense reports quite a lot, including in one case a Conservative member, Douglas Hogg, who claimed reimbursement for having his moat cleaned. Hogg subsequently announced he would not stand for re-election.

The Daily Telegraph broke the worst of the story a few weeks ago, and yesterday, just after the Metropolitan Police decided that the newspaper will not face an enquiry for revealing MPs' expense records, the Speaker of Parliament announced his resignation:

Speaker Martin's position became untenable after he lost the support of MPs over his handling of their expenses system.

The disclosure in The Daily Telegraph that his staff had encouraged members to claims for "phantom" mortgages provoked fierce criticism.

This morning a motion calling for his immediate resignation appeared on the Commons order paper signed by 23 MPs from across the political spectrum.

Douglas Carswell, the Tory MP who tabled the motion, said he hoped Mr Martin's successor would have the moral authority to push through reforms that would "restore dignity to politics".

This is the first time in 300 years that the Speaker of Parliament has been forced out of office. And with respect to Mr Carswell, I think it will take slightly more than a new Speaker to restore dignity, but that has more to do with politics in general than the House of Commons in specific.

I'm highlighting this story because it demonstrates why we need newspapers. It took actual reporting and actual publication to bring this story to light, and I think the people of Britain—most of them, anyway—are glad the Telegraph did it.

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