John Stonborough spun for the Speaker and the House of Commons Commission from 2001 to 2003. He was hired because he understood how to handle a hostile media environment.
On Stonborough’s blog he reflects back on how Michael Martin dealt with critical counsel:
On the July 1, 2003, I had one of my regular private meetings with the Speaker in his study overlooking the river. It was a friendly encounter, just the two of us, and I decided to mention this business of claiming for his second home. I think I had mentioned it once previously. I should not have needed to do this, but few Commons officials had the guts to voice their concerns to him. I did.
The Speaker went puce. He told me to stay where I was and summoned the Clerk of the House, Roger Sands, and made me repeat my “allegation” in front of him. I wrote to the Speaker afterwards saying I thought he had been a bit rough on me. Being an adviser is not a popularity contest. The Speaker never spoke to me again and like others before and after me I was cast out.
The speaker is a proud, stubborn and incompetent obstacle to reform because he has abused the system as badly as the worst parliamentarian. Time’s up…