Leading article: Honest failure

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The Independent Online

Lord Pearson of Rannoch may not have made a great impression during his nine months as leader of the UK Independence Party, but he deserves to make more of a splash with his resignation statement. He had learnt, he said, that he was "not much good at party politics, which I do not enjoy". He would step down at the party's conference next month, to devote more time to his other interests.

Although the Peter Principle is tried and tested – that every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence – it is rare to find a leader in any walk of life, but particularly in politics, who openly admits to having been "not much good" at the job they aspired to. Eight years ago, Estelle Morris left her post as Education Secretary, saying that she felt she had done a better job in the more junior post of schools minister and the department deserved better than "second best". She was elevated to the House of Lords and appears – though who would not be? – to be more comfortable there. Nor is it obvious that she was quite as bad at Education as she judged herself to be. Something similar could be said of Lord Pearson: Ukip's vote rose by 50 per cent at the last election. If this is failure, one might ask, how should one gauge success?