There is a dynastic quality to Martin’s Scottish political empire. Since 1979 he has been MP for Glasgow North East (formerly Springburn); his son, Paul, was elected to the equivalent seat in the same constituency in the Scottish parliament, despite having shown little dynamism while he served on Glasgow council. At election times, the pair of them appear together on the streets in identical suits and shirts. “We call them the Martin mafia,” laughs an SNP activist.
But this is not just a father-and-son political operation. For several years after Martin became Speaker, his wife, Mary, was also on his constituency payroll, earning £25,000 a year for unspecified duties, even though she was living in London with her husband.
Then we have the former MP, Mr Marshall:
Power has rotted what Labour thinks it stands for in Scotland and now the public smell it. The expenses scandal looming over David Marshall, who stood down from the seat on the grounds of ill-health, was not used by the SNP in the campaign. But people queuing for their rolls and sausage on the Gallowgate talked about it all the same. Marshall is said to have claimed more than half a million pounds to run an office from home, though the rumours are as yet unconfirmed.
Would it be unreasonable to suggest that these people have been in office for too long? And do not believe that they are the only ones.