Another myth… Michael Martin and the Speakership

The death of Lord Martin led to the media quite pervasively repeating the myth that was propagated at the time that he resigned the Speakership of the House of Commons, namely that, to quote one newspaper, he was ‘the first Speaker to be pushed out of the role since Sir John Trevor in 1695.’  This is, to put it kindly, historically inaccurate.  As I pointed in a post on Lords of the Blog when he left the Speakership, he was the first since 1835, not 1695, to be forced out.

In 1695, Sir John Trevor did not resign as Speaker.  He was expelled from the House.  He was not the last to be forced out.   Two other Speakers in succeeding centuries were denied re-election: Sir Fletcher Norton in 1780 and Sir Charles Manners-Sutton in 1835.

It is not clear where this myth originated.  It is on a scale with the equally inaccurate claim that Mhairi Black was the youngest MP in more than 300 years when first elected in 2015.  As regular readers will be only to well aware from earlier posts, that is out by a similar time scale to that of Michael Martin’s departure.

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About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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2 Responses to Another myth… Michael Martin and the Speakership

  1. Croft says:

    Fingers crossed he isn’t the last speaker forced out of office for long 😉

    (The answer is surely that journalists don’t do basic fact checking well enough)

  2. maud elwes says:

    The simple answer here, LN, is make sure we give a well rounded education, from a young age, say five years, on Democracy, our Parliament, and how these matters, matter. If young people are exposed as young as babies to what and how ‘Fake News’ works and spreads, they will automatically reject information from their innate scepticism.

    Five years being the age chosen to enlighten our school children on all bodily functions once considered only suitable for adults.

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