Maria Miller resigns: By behaving gracelessly Miller has paid a much heavier price than she needed to

The Culture Secretary's reluctance to accept culpability meant the resignation had become inevitable

Share

It would have been survivable if Miller had handled it better. By today, she was on the front of only one newspaper, The Guardian, but it was too late. The story had been running for six days and David Cameron faces Prime Minister’s Questions at midday.

It was her apology last Thursday that did for her. She was required to apologise for obstructing the independent commissioner’s inquiries. Both the obstruction and the tone of the apology conveyed her absolute conviction that she had done nothing wrong, which was not an attitude calculated to endear herself to the public or to fellow MPs who might defend her.

Her reluctance to accept culpability meant that she also refused to try to make her own case. Thus, to the end, it was widely reported and believed that the Standards Committee, on which the Conservatives have a majority, generously decided to reduce the amount she was required to repay from £45,000 to £5,800. This is not the case. Late in the day she provided new documents that showed her mortgage payments were higher than had been estimated, and therefore the amount she had overclaimed by mistake was lower. This was accepted by the independent commissioner.

However, it is true that the committee of MPs decided her punishment - to repay the overpayment and to apologise for attitude to the investigation. She got off lightly, continued to behave gracelessly and now has had to pay a far heavier price.

Read more: Maria Miller resigns: Sajid Javid appointed new Culture Secretary following expenses row
Maria Miller resigns: Resignation letter to David Cameron in full
Maria Miller resigns: David Cameron's response in full  

I do not know what tipped the balance in the end, although I suspect that the Prime Minister’s loyalty had expired, and that this was communicated tactfully to her. Labour has already put out a statement this morning saying that her eventual resignation proves that the Prime Minister’s judgement is useless (I paraphrase). Once you are on to the leader of the other side showing bad judgement, you know the argument is over. Actually, the Prime Minister decided that she could have survived and showed commendable loyalty until it had dawned on her that she could not.

She may well have been influenced by the vox pops carried out in her Basingstoke constituency by a BBC reporter yesterday. The reporter had followed John Mann, the opportunist Labour MP, who held a public meeting with the local Labour Party there, to exploit her embarrassment. By opportunist, obviously, I mean “good at politics”. What was striking was that the reporter could not find a single Basingstoke voter to support Miller, apart from the chairman of her Tory association. Those who had voted Tory in the past said that they would now vote Ukip.

That is one reason for thinking that Miller is unlikely to be the Tory candidate in the general election. Her ministerial career is over, despite the Prime Minister’s form of words in his letter accepting her resignation, and if she tries to fight the seat she might lose it. She has misjudged the public mood on MPs’ expenses all along. It is utterly unreasoning and unforgiving. She knows that now.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Nicola Sturgeon could have considerable influence over David Cameron in a hung parliament  

General Election 2015: What if Cameron were to end up in hock to the SNP?

Steve Richards
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before