(2009) New Labour Michael Martin

He had faced resignation calls from MPs of all parties, but in the end the only person who can claim responsibility for the demise of Michael Martin is Michael Martin himself.

His shambolic, undignified and at times bullying performances in the Commons over the past week made him the recipient not only of parody but also of contempt.

By attacking MPs who dared to question his response to the scandal of parliamentary expenses, the Speaker, who held the power to find a solution to the crisis, instead became a large part of the problem.

And after being mauled in the Commons by MPs of all parties on Monday afternoon, he finally accepted he was finished as he spent that night in his office, taking calls from long-standing friends and advisers who urged him to quit while he still had a shred of dignity left.

By the time he made his resignation statement, all the fight had been knocked out of him. The first Speaker to be forced out of the job for 314 years could muster just 76 words to mark the occasion, saying he was quitting to restore the “unity” of the House.

Mr Martin, 63, whose gruff Glaswegian accent and shop steward’s style had earned him the nickname of “Gorbals Mick”, had been a controversial figure from the day of his appointment in 2000, with accusation of bias towards Labour in parliamentary debates.

In recent years he had faced repeated questions over his expense claims, in particular the £1.7 million refurbishment of his official residence in parliament and a series of “official” trips to exotic foreign destinations with his wife Mary.

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