Was this the moment that the Commons changed for good?

Was this the moment that the Commons changed for good?

Will Martin’s legacy be less government control?

Today is Michael Martin’s final PMQs as Speaker and on Sunday he will finally step down from the position that he’s held for nearly a decade. His successor will be elected the following day.

When Martin looks back over his final tumultuous seven months I wonder whether it was the above moment, captured in the YouTube clip above, that he will most regret. For it was the tone and manner of the way he dealt with Kate Hoey that kept on being replayed and replayed and created the climate where his survival looked impossible. His reaction in the days that followed was admirable and he took the route of the dignified exit.

But I wonder whether the biggest Martin legacy will be in a reduction in the government’s ability to control the business of the house.

For it was the realisation that ordinary MPs were unable to get a confidence motion on him debated without the government’s agreement that has sparked off a debate about the whole way the parliamentary system now works.

For that event totally exposed the powerlessness of MPs and their inability to do things. For it’s now only too clear that the rights of the executive to control parliamentary business have got to be reduced.

Whether David Cameron will be happy with this, assuming he wins the election, is another thing. For a more powerful commons could make the PMs job that bit more difficult.

****Speaker betting****

Mike Smithson

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