Is Martin’s position now untenable?

Is Martin’s position now untenable?

Click here to watch Clegg’s call

Has Clegg’s call pushed this beyond the point of no return?

On the face of it Michael Martin’s position is toast. A commons motion that’s been put down calling for him to go is attracting increasing all-party support and in a surprise intervention this morning Lib Dem leader, Nick Clegg called for him to go.

The Clegg call was the more remarkable because the convention is that party leaders simply don’t act like that. Whatever they might think privately about the Speaker they have to be ultra-guarded when they make public pronouncements.

In spite of everything I’m still not convinced that Martin will step aside. Gordon Brown has no relish for a difficult by election, even in his party’s strongest heartlands, and Martin himself has proved to be remarkably resilient. My guess is that he’ll be hoping to be able to continue until the general election as has been widely reported.

But you simply cannot have a situation where the leader of the third biggest group in parliament has expressed his views in the way Clegg did this morning.

In the Michael Martin betting you can get 5/4 with Ladbrokes that he’ll be out by the end of the month. PaddyPower has a better bet – 6/4 that he’ll be out this year.

As to an eventual replacement my original 33/1 bet on Ming does not look anything like as good as it did a fortnight ago. My latest choice is Sir George Young. I got him at 25/1 with William Hill this morning – he’s now tightened to 10/1.

This evening I’m on Radio 4’s “The Westminster Hour” talking about the current political situation. The programme starts at 10pm.

Mike Smithson

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