Could the Speaker’s job now be on the line?
Harriet Harman is in a very different category from every other member of the cabinet. For she owes her position of Deputy Leader to her successful campaign in last year’s election. Brown could sack her from his cabinet but he can’t fire her as his deputy.
This has given an independence of action which she seems ready, when necessary, to use.
As leader of the house she is in a position to play a key role in the follow-up to the Damien Green arrest and, particularly, the sorry saga that caused his Westminster’s office in Parliament to be searched without a search warrant.
If Michael Martin was watching Newsnight last night he cannot have felt comfortable by the apparent reluctance of Harman to give him her support in a hard-hitting interview with Jeremy Paxman. (Click on the picture above to watch – it’s about ten minutes into the programme). If that’s what she’s saying in public heaven knows what her private views are.
The press isn’t particularly kind to Martin this morning and I wonder if Harriet has decided that he should go.
And if that happened there’d have to be another by election in Martin’s Glasgow seat. If this had taken place before Glenrothes there would have been a strong argument against holding an unnecessary by election. Now Labour would feel confident about beating off an SNP challenge to retain the seat.
Another benefit from Martin going now would be that Labour would be in a much better position at Westminster to determine the successor. Waiting until the general election could take away that option.
A lot to play for in the coming few days.