Overseas readers and those of you who have really, really not been paying attention may need to have it explained that Michael Martin is the Speaker of the House of Commons and in a spot of bother at the moment.
The immediate cause of the bother is expenses and Speaker Martin's allies have sprung to his defence. He is a victim of snobbery, they claim. He is being picked on because he is working class/Catholic/speaks with a west of Scotland accent and these factors annoy a media coterie of snobs. If this were all it was about then I would be the first to spring to his defence.
Sorry, but this won't wash. Undoubtedly, the right wing media scent blood and are a pretty unpleasant bunch, to put it mildly. Equally, some of the 'working class hero' routines being wheeled out in his defence are disingenuous and remind me of the hilarious Blunkett 'Nixon Agonistes' impersonation when that priapic twerp was in some trouble a few years ago.
On expenses, he has broken no rules. Having said that, if it is within the rules to claim an annual £23,000 accommodation allowance for a house in Glasgow in respect of which Mr Speaker has the good fortune to have no mortgage, while simultaneously being provided gratis an opulent apartment in the Palace of Westminster, then the rules are wrong. Similarly, why it is necessary or appropriate for the Speaker's wife to be ferried around in taxis on public funds at a total cost of £4,000 remains obscure.
I suspect the core of the controversy is really two things: Mr Speaker is (a) a dislikeable individual and (b) pretty rotten at his job.
On a completely different topic, Yer Rock & Roll 4 is formulating in my mind and I have decided to put its nature to a public poll. Please state your preference as between (a) Jefferson Airplane (b) Velvet Underground (c) some reggae. 'None of the aforesaid' and 'something else, namely..' will be duly ignored ;)