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Will the Speaker get through the day unscathed?

December 3rd, 2008

How will his statement go down with worried MPs?

One of the “smart” elements of the Green arrest was the timing. It happened just as Parliament was going into a five day recess ahead of the Queen’s Speech and the start of the new parliamentary year.

This meant that there was no immediate platform for the issue of the police search of Green’s Commons’ office to be raised in the chamber. That all changes today and the Tories and the Liberal Democrats are said to have been jointly working on concerted action.

Quite wisely the royal bit in the morning, the Queen’s visit to Westminster and her speech, will pass off smoothly. It’s the afternoon, from 2.30 onwards, when things could happen.

According to the Daily Mail “..Tory grandees – including former ministers David Davis, Douglas Hogg and Stephen Dorrell – are expected to mount today’s protest at Mr Green’s detention after the Queen has left the Houses of Parliament. Senior Liberal Democrats, including former leader Sir Menzies Campbell, Alan Beith and David Heath, are also due to protest if the Speaker fails to explain how such an affront to democracy could have been permitted. They will raise repeated points of order on the floor of the Commons, delaying the start of the traditional debate on the Government’s new legislative programme, as Prime Minister Gordon Brown is forced to look on…”

This is one of those occasions when it’s hard to predict what the outcome will be. Has Michael Martin got a statement ready that will calm the MPs in all parties who have expressed their concern over what happened? If he hasn’t what will be the impact of the repeated points of order? On top of that has Labour got a plan?

The hard thing for Martin is that this comes at a time when he’s been doing well in the job. His handling of the “Baby P” PMQ incident was excellent and he has been getting tough on the orchestrated barracking that seems to have edged up a gear since the appointment of Brown’s close colleague, Nick Brown, as Chief Whip.

We simply don’t know how today is going to shape up. If you are able to watch TV live this afternoon it could make compelling viewing.

Mike Smithson






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