Oliver Duff

i Editor's Letter: How not to resign




It is possible to have a good  resignation. Compare the departure of Maria Miller with that of the (now ex-) Immigration Minister Mark Harper, who quit quickly two months ago after learning that his cleaner did not have permission to work in the UK. See? You’ve already forgotten about it.

Ms Miller’s downfall was not inevitable. She has not lost her Cabinet job because of the expenses claim, but because of the political ineptitude she’s shown in stoking public anger. As late as Sunday, she might well have clung to office, at  least until the next reshuffle, by going on telly to apologise properly. Instead we learnt how not to resign: take a salvageable situation, insult the public, allow colleagues to fan the aggravation, then go.

Michael Gove struck the right note yesterday. Although saddened by Ms Miller’s demise, he said that the “political class need to recognise the level of public anger over expenses is still very, very raw”.

Don’t believe the hokum that this is all some media revenge on Ms Miller for Leveson or gay marriage. Few papers called on her to resign. Ms Miller was not a big hitter on press regulation, or much else. Frankly it would have suited  opponents of statutory press  regulation for such a weak  Secretary of State to keep her job. And it was Ms Miller’s officials who brought up the threat of Leveson, to try to spook editors from running the original story about her expenses. In so doing they damaged prospects for statutory regulation.

The Prime Minister mistakenly saw this as a battle of wills with a couple of newspapers, rather than a matter of probity and public faith in our politics. (A topic which used to exercise him.) Many ministers have survived worse transgressions because they were supported by colleagues or by grassroots activists.  Ms Miller had neither. Four out of five Tory Party members surveyed said she should resign, and most MPs and ministers refused to back her.

David Cameron showed blind loyalty and walks away from this with flesh wounds, just when he should be buoyed by economic forecasts, reaction to the Budget and polling that shows the Conservatives only three points behind Labour. For him, life goes on. Perhaps, though, he would benefit from more dissenting voices in his circle of advisers.


Twitter.com: @olyduff

React Now

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

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Andy Coulson  

Andy Coulson: With former News of the World editor cleared of perjury charges, what will he do next?

James Cusick James Cusick
Jack Warner  

Fifa corruption: Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

Tom Peck
Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back