Will Martin dare risk a confidence vote?
These are indeed amazing days and we’ll know in a few hours how Michael Martin plans to deal with the increasing clamour for him to go following Nick Clegg’s unprecedented call by a party leader for him to step down.
His choices are stark. Make an announcement today that he’s going or, as is being reported, try to buy time until the election by taking the initiative on the MP expenses issue.
If he tries to follow the latter course then there’ll almost certainly be a no confidence vote in him which has to take precedence over all other business. His future will then lie in the hands of MPs.
It’s hard to see how anything he can say now can placate his detractors. The big question if there’s a vote is what will Labour MPs do? Will they rise to support “one of their own”; will they abstain or will they follow the Lib Dems and many Tories and vote for his immediate replacement?
No doubt many MPs, particularly those who’ve been scarred by the Telegraph expense exposes, will base their voting on what they think will go down best with their local constituency parties. For their jobs could on the line as well and a “Keep Martin” vote might not be very smart.
There’s a price to be paid for those large screen plasma TVs that so many of them have had the tax-buyer buy for them.
I think the prospects for Martin look bleak and we might not be far off the first election for Speaker by a secret ballot of MPs. That Clegg move was critical – no Speaker can continue with the leader of about a tenth of all MPs wanting him out.
In my betting I’ve got 6/4 that Martin will go this year, and bets at 25/1 on Sir George Young and 33/1 on Ming in the Martin replacement markets.