A Speaker passionately committed to the dignity of Parliament and of his office would be gone by now. An honourable man would have bowed to the mood of the house and packed his bags. A man with a modicum of self respect would have made the best fist of resigning that he could. Martin, of course, proved yesterday that he was none of these. So he will be dishonourably evicted from the Speaker's chair, a wee timid cow'ring beastie, mouse not man.
With members arguing on Commons procedures with Martin yesterday, it was Sir Patrick Cormack who gave the house the formula it was looking for. Not that many of them noticed. The Norway or Narvik debate started as an adjournment motion which became in effect a vote of no confidence in Chamberlain's government.
Brown deserted Martin out of nothing but self interest. A change of Speaker may allow his spent and corrupt government to limp on until next year; with Martin remaining in the chair, the pressures for a general election would have been that much greater. However, MPs realise they're all bad dogs right now. Like ill-behaved Spaniels who try with an excess of zeal to atone for their guilty behaviour, the Commons under a new Speaker may well take seriously its duty to hold Brown's government to account, and the floor of the house could become as bloody as a Roman arena as ministers are torn by bad dogs who have just remembered they have a hint of wolf in their ancestry.
The Summer recess cannot come soon enough for Brown.