The news has just broken that Michael Martin will announce his resignation this afternoon. Good. The expenses scandal, and it is a scandal of the most damaging kind, is the product of a generation of MPs who have not realised that the world has moved on. They all need to go and it is appropriate that Martin is the first to go.
The Romans had a military punishment called decimation. The word is misused often but its original use was for a punishment of legions that either showed cowardice in battle or were mutinous. One in ten were killed to buck up the remainder. Whether it is by deselection or by voter action against incumbents who think that they can cling on at the next general election we need to see something like the one in ten MPs who have committed the worst expenses fiddles cleared out.
David Cameron has been making a lot of the right sounds and indeed has reminded Tory constituency associations that they have the power to deal with bad eggs. There is a grass roots move in the Labour party to get their NEC to do the same thing in the Labour party. Apparently 175 councillors and Parliamentary candidates have signed a letter urging the NEC to act. Their words are pretty withering:
We are writing to you to register our protest at the conduct of many Labour MPs, ministers and cabinet ministers in allowance and expense claims funded by hard working British taxpayers during the tenure of this Parliament. We are also gravely concerned that the Party Leadership has failed to take charge of a critical situation on an issue so fundamentally defining to the character and reputation of our Party, its supporters and activists.
Unsurprisingly I couldn’t identify any Ealing names on the list. Our Labour lot are not known for their freedom of thought.
Similarly the LibDems grassroots are on the warpath.