Michael Martin's resignation had become inevitable after his failure to set his own departure date yesterday. And despite his lack of verbal dexterity, it is worth recognising the tremendous personal feat he achieved in becoming Speaker from such humble beginnings - and that he was the first Catholic Speaker since the Reformation.
Now the Commons must find the right replacement. Talk of a stopgap Speaker to take the Commons only to the next election is ridiculous. They need someone who can carry the House through the next parliament who can command support across the House. More importantly, they need someone who can oversee the overhaul of an institution that has not only lost touch on expenses, but which too often places procedure and historical precedent above the needs and expectations of a modern democracy.
That suggests that we need a Speaker who is willing to be a reformer, rather than somebody who has become too comfortable with Commons traditions. We need someone who is not afraid to shake up the establishment but has the respect of significant numbers of MPs in all parties. And we need someone who can restore public faith in parliament at the same time.
Of course, some say it should be the Tories' turn. But are Sir Alan Haslehurst or Sir George Young really the right people for the change needed? If we want a person who commands such respect, Labour MP Frank Field and Tory MP John Bercow must be strong candidates. These two maverick MPs would each show that the Commons really does mean it when it says that it wants to restore faith in democracy.
Field would not be top of Gordon Brown's list, of course, given that he was effectively sacked for his radicalism on welfare at Brown's behest, and he has often upset his fellow Labour MPs by appearing too close to the Tories on some issues. Bercow has moved considerably leftwards since his student days and has been used by Labour to work on some education issues. But it is precisely their cross-party respect and their willingness to tilt against their own party establisments - so much so that each has been the subject of speculation about the possibility that they might cross the floor - that makes them so potentially appealing.
This post has been picked up by Iain Dale and the Guardian website.