Monday, November 12, 2007

What does it take to get someone to resign?

Politicians and other people in positions in authority used to resign on a point of principle if bad things happened on their watch, but as Peter Oborne pointed out in his recent book on the Political Class, times have changed somewhat and the name of the game these days is to hang on to your job for as long as possible, if necessary by blaming the media for trying to force you out.

In view of the obvious topicality of this, I have devised a league table which lists, in ascending order of pigheaded obstinacy, ten political figures who have either resigned or come under pressure to resign in recent years.

1. Estelle Morris. Decided she wasn't up to the job after a few mildly critical media reports about exam results. Pusillanimous rather than pig-headed.

2. Michael Howard. Quit the day after a general election in which many observers thought his party, despite its defeat, had done well enough to enable him to stay on.

3. Sir Menzies Campbell. Rather impulsively fell on his sword after seven days of consecutive press reports about his age, 48 hours after telling reporters he had no intention of going.

4. Stephen Byers. Initially survived both the Jo Moore affair and claims that he lied over Railtrack, but eventually quit realising that his department was indeed "fucked" as long as he stayed.

5. Peter Mandelson. Thought he could ride out the Geoffrey Robinson home loan affair and actually prepared a media "fightback" strategy. Tony Blair other ideas and told him to bite the bullet.

6. Beverley Hughes. Tried to stay in her job despite visa scam involving work permits for one-legged Romanian roofers. Eventually had to go after it emerged she had been warned about the problem.

7. David Blunkett. Forced to quit over a rushed visa for his mistress's nanny, days after a defiant rendition at the Labour MPs' Christmas bash of "pick myself up, dust myself off and start all over again."

8. Mark Oaten. Stood for the leadership of his party in full knowledge of the fact that his, er, personal difficulties were likely to prove something of a liability if they ever came to light. Eventually saw sense and quit.

9. Tony Blair. Survived a disastrous military adventure and the suicide of the man who tried to blow the whistle on his government's lies before finally accepting that the public had fallen out of love with him.

10. Sir Ian Blair. Remains in his job despite his force being found guilty of health and safety offences over the death of Jean Charles de Menezes, a vote of no confidence by the London Assembly, and resignation calls from across the political spectrum. Clearly, and by some margin, the most pig-headed man in Britain.

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1 comment:

skipper said...

Surprised you don't mention Lord Carrington, who actually resigned on honourable grounds, maybe the last to do so. And he probably was not culpable. I think Blair earns your most pig headed slot for refusing to perceive his own dishonour after Hutton and Butler. He should have resigned then, as I bleated at the time.