Today's comment: Left and right unite against Speaker Martin

Speaker Martin is being lined up as the sacrificial lamb of the expenses scandal and today he achieves the rare feat of uniting the Guardian and the Daily Telegraph. Both papers use their leader column to declare that Martin must resign.

The Guardian lambasts the Speaker for consistently standing in the way of expenses reforms and failing to hold MPs to account. “Time and again Martin has pulled down the shutters, exploiting sweeping powers under the Freedom of Information Act,” it says.

And the paper argues that his authority has been fatally undermined by his abrasive criticism of those MPs who questioned the decision to involve the police over the expenses leaks.

“Patience finally snapped on Monday, when the Speaker effectively surrendered his role as an impartial chair and rounded on two MPs for having the audacity to wash Commons linen in public,” it notes.

But the leader warns those MPs tempted to add their signatures to Tory MP Douglas Carswell’s motion of no confidence that: “The mutiny is a high-stakes game; if it fails, the Speaker can ruin the rebels' careers by refusing to call them in debate.”

The Telegraph similarly argues that Martin’s departure is a necessary preliminary to any meaningful reform.

“He has presided over – and taken plentiful advantage of – this rotten system and his position is quite untenable,” the paper argues.

But elsewhere the debate moves on to the fortunate few who have come out of the expenses furore stronger.

The Telegraph’s chief political commentator Benedict Brogan argues that the crisis has shown the mettle of David Cameron.

“In what he has said and done, the Conservative leader has not only demonstrated his knack for staying ahead of the public debate and thereby shaping it; he has displayed the courage and conviction a leader must possess if he is to confront adversity,” he writes.

Meanwhile, Vince Cable,yesterday touted as a future Speaker by the Guardian’s Michael White, looks set to retain his title of Britain’s favourite politician through the expenses row.

The Sun’s Kelvin Mackenzie praises Cable for being the only outer London MP not to claim for a second home. Like Polly Tonybee earlier this week, he also believes that the genial and, crucially, thrifty Alan Johnson may yet prove to be Labour’s saviour.

Mackenzie describes him as “the only guy in the Labour party who might reduce the Tory majority at the next General Election by half.”

Finally, in the Guardian, Seumas Milne warns that the scandal “may have brought the British political class to a new nadir, but it's the country that will pay the price.”

He argues that the disproportionate reaction to the expenses scandal masks far more serious and corrosive issues, such as the £7bn paid out in bankers’ bonuses this year.

“It might be objected that these are private institutions … But, of course, several of the banks involved are now nothing of the sort and the others have been kept afloat since last autumn on a sea of public cash. Yet the bankers are now off the hook,” he notes.

And while figures across the political spectrum have praised the Telegraph’s robust reporting, Milne scents a whiff of hypocrisy in the coverage.

“The blizzard of petty corruption revelations, orchestrated by a newspaper whose owners live in tax exile in the Channel Islands, has got out of hand,” he writes.

He fears that the cynical, anti-politics mood will once again be exploited by the demagogic right but hopes that the humiliation of the political establishment will also provide the space for left-wing alternatives to develop.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Manchester united: "A minority of absolute idiots are trying to break us apart"

At the vigil, one man's T-shirt read: "The only thing that's allowed to be separated by colour is the laundry."

A day after one of the worst atrocities in the history of the city, Manchester's people were keen to show the world the resilience of the Mancunian spirit.

Dom's, an Italian restaurant, is in walking distance from Manchester Arena, where 22 people lost their lives to a suicide bomber the night before. On Tuesday, the staff were giving out free coffee, tea and pizza to anyone who needed it. On a table outside, there was a condolences book, and teary passersby left RIP messages to those who perished. Under a bright blue sky, the community seemed more united than ever, the goodwill pouring out of everyone I met. But the general mood was sombre. 

"We need to make space for healing and for building up our community again, and just getting people to feel comfortable in their own city," the Dean of Manchester, Rogers Govendor, told me.

The terrorist has been named as Salman Ramadan Abedi, a 22-year-old Mancunian of Libyan descent. But with a population of 600,000, Manchester is a cosmopolitan hub, and proud of it. Throughout the day I encountered people of all skin shades and religions. On one of the roads off Albert Square, a couple of Orthodox Jewish boys set up a little stand, where people could grab a bottle of water and, if they so desired, hold hands and pray.

On the night of the tragedy, Muslim and Sikh cab drivers turned off the meter and made their way to Manchester Arena to offer free rides to anyone - many of them injured - who trying to escape the mayhem and reach safety. "It's what we do around here," my taxi driver said with a thick Arabic accent.

The dissonance between the increasingly frantic debate on social media and what was discussed on the streets was stark. I spoke, on and off the record, with about two dozen residents, eavesdropped on a number of conversations, and not once did I hear anyone speaking out against the cultural melting pot that Manchester is today. If anything, people were more eager than ever to highlight it. 

"Manchester has always been hugely multicultural, and people always pull together at times of trouble and need," said Andrew Hicklin. "They are not going to change our society and who we are as people. We live free lives."

It was also a day where political divisions were put aside. Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn agreed to suspend their campaigns. For the next few days there will be no Labour vs Tory, no Brexiteer vs Remainer, at least not in this part of the country. This city has closed ranks and nothing will be allowed to come between that cohesion.

"I don't demonise anyone," said Dennis Bolster, who stopped by to sign the condolences book outside Dom's. "I just know a small minority of absolute idiots, driven by whatever they think they are driven by, are the people who are trying to break us apart."

Later in the day, as people were getting off work, thousands flocked to Albert Square to show their respects to the victims. Members of the Sikh community entered the square carrying "I love MCR" signs. The crowd promptly applauded. A middle-aged man wore a T-shirt which said: "The only thing that's allowed to be separated by colour is the laundry." A moment of silent was observed. It was eerie, at times overwhelmingly sad. But it was also moving and inspiring.

Local poet Tony Walsh brought brief respite from the pain when he recited "This is the Place", his ode to the city and its people. The first verse went:

This is the place In the north-west of England. It’s ace, it’s the best

And the songs that we sing from the stands, from our bands

Set the whole planet shaking.

Our inventions are legends. There’s nowt we can’t make, and so we make brilliant music

We make brilliant bands

We make goals that make souls leap from seats in the stands

On stage, everyday political foes became temporary allies. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, home secretary Amber Rudd, Lib Dem leader Tim Farron, Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham and house speaker John Bercow all brushed shoulders. Their message was clear: "we are Manchester too."

The vigil lasted a little over half an hour. On other occasions, a crowd this size in the centre of Manchester would give authorities reason for concern. But not this time. Everyone was in their best behaviour. Only a few were drinking. 

As Mancunians made their way home, I went over to a family that had been standing not far from me during the vigil. The two children, a boy and a girl, both not older than 10, were clutching their parents' hands the whole time. I asked dad if he will give them a few extra hugs and kisses as he tucks them in tonight. "Oh, absolutely," he said. "Some parents whose children went to the concert last night won't ever get to do that again. It's heartbreaking."

Felipe Araujo is a freelance journalist based in London. He writes about race, culture and sports. He covered the Rio Olympics and Paralympics on the ground for the New Statesman. He tweets @felipethejourno.

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