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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The buck doesn't stop with Grant Shapps - and probably shouldn't stop with Lord Feldman, either

The question of "who knew what, and when?" shouldn't stop with the Conservative peer.

If Grant Shapps’ enforced resignation as a minister was intended to draw a line under the Mark Clarke affair, it has had the reverse effect. Attention is now shifting to Lord Feldman, who was joint chair during Shapps’  tenure at the top of CCHQ.  It is not just the allegations of sexual harrassment, bullying, and extortion against Mark Clarke, but the question of who knew what, and when.

Although Shapps’ resignation letter says that “the buck” stops with him, his allies are privately furious at his de facto sacking, and they are pointing the finger at Feldman. They point out that not only was Feldman the senior partner on paper, but when the rewards for the unexpected election victory were handed out, it was Feldman who was held up as the key man, while Shapps was given what they see as a relatively lowly position in the Department for International Development.  Yet Feldman is still in post while Shapps was effectively forced out by David Cameron. Once again, says one, “the PM’s mates are protected, the rest of us shafted”.

As Simon Walters reports in this morning’s Mail on Sunday, the focus is turning onto Feldman, while Paul Goodman, the editor of the influential grassroots website ConservativeHome has piled further pressure on the peer by calling for him to go.

But even Feldman’s resignation is unlikely to be the end of the matter. Although the scope of the allegations against Clarke were unknown to many, questions about his behaviour were widespread, and fears about the conduct of elections in the party’s youth wing are also longstanding. Shortly after the 2010 election, Conservative student activists told me they’d cheered when Sadiq Khan defeated Clarke in Tooting, while a group of Conservative staffers were said to be part of the “Six per cent club” – they wanted a swing big enough for a Tory majority, but too small for Clarke to win his seat. The viciousness of Conservative Future’s internal elections is sufficiently well-known, meanwhile, to be a repeated refrain among defenders of the notoriously opaque democratic process in Labour Students, with supporters of a one member one vote system asked if they would risk elections as vicious as those in their Tory equivalent.

Just as it seems unlikely that Feldman remained ignorant of allegations against Clarke if Shapps knew, it feels untenable to argue that Clarke’s defeat could be cheered by both student Conservatives and Tory staffers and the unpleasantness of the party’s internal election sufficiently well-known by its opponents, without coming across the desk of Conservative politicians above even the chair of CCHQ’s paygrade.

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.