There comes a time for a Minister to resign

If you are a Minister in a government that has lost its way, is trampling on the beliefs and ideals of its own party, and busily briefing against its own people, in the end you have to resign. You carry on, trying to avoid having to defend the indefensible, picking your way carefully through the mistakes, gross injustices and bad spin.

You live on in the hope that you will win the next battle in Cabinet, that you can persauade the Prime Minister to do the decent thing for a change, or in the hope that you will be allowed to make a difference in your own area. One day, if you wish to restore your own self respect and start the real battle for the soul of your party, you have to resign. It is a liberating experience. You feel so much better for it.

There are now so many reasons why any decent Labour Minister who can remember the principles and ideals that brought him or her into politics should resign.

If you came in to uphold and extend our civil liberties, you must be ashamed of how they are being damaged and abused by this government.
If you came in to see a better Health Service, you must be appalled at the numbers of deaths of patients from hospital acquired infections and even from malnutrition.
If you came in to defend workers rights you will be furious at the botched semi privatisation proposals already pushed through for the London Underground and now about to hit the Post office.
If you wanted to see better equality of incomes you will be scandalised by the public sector rich list and by the pensions for retiring bankers in state owned banks.
If you came in to see an ethical foreign policy you must be struggling to defend the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and extraordinary rendition.
If you came in to see a rise in standards in public life, you will be bitterly disappointed by the vicious spin used against Labour figures, even if you are not so worried about lies against the Tories.
If you came in to see public spending champion better lives for the poor, you must be feeling uncomfortable about the extent of public spending on the privileged and powerful.
If you believed it when you told us the government had abolished boom and bust, do you now feel let down and lied to by the Prime Minister who presided over the credit binge and the crash?

When you look at yourself in the shaving or make-up mirror in the morning, are you any longer proud to be a Minister in this government?

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19 Comments

  1. Kevin Lohse
    Posted April 19, 2009 at 5:54 am | Permalink

    Well done John.

  2. Johnny Norfolk
    Posted April 19, 2009 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    Its what many of us have known for some time, it appears that the media have just realised it to.

  3. Chris
    Posted April 19, 2009 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    Was this aimed at anyone in particular ?

    Mind you, I suspect that quite a few of them no longer have reflections to see.

    • Kay Tie
      Posted April 19, 2009 at 9:24 am | Permalink

      I found that rather funny!

  4. James
    Posted April 19, 2009 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    We’re having a party on Wednesday, so I asked the entertainments agency for the magician who usually stars at our functions.
    Can’t have him, he’s been promoted, in fact he’s running the whole business now.
    You’ll have to have the standin.
    No apologises, no choice.
    I’ve now heard rumours that the company is in deep trouble, nearly bankrupt, having to sell the company assets.
    With our luck, it’ll be the clown turning up on Wednesday.

  5. Julian
    Posted April 19, 2009 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    John Hutton is the only decent one amongst them so I predict he will be the first to resign.

  6. Jim Pearson
    Posted April 19, 2009 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    If only they had the Honour, or Courage. I think the last minister to do the honourable thing was Lord Carrington. A sorry state of affairs indeed. Nice article, even if it makes you feel angry.

  7. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted April 19, 2009 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    Point well made, but you know they won’t resign but cling on until the very end.

  8. Stuart Fairney
    Posted April 19, 2009 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    The naive optimists who are most likely the back benchers may well feel this way; Alice Mahon maybe such an example with her resignation from the party (albeit just before she retires anyway!). However, the ones who really understand what modern statism really means draw their influence from Woodrow Wilson, FDR etc and are absolutely committed to the primacy of the state. The very doctrine suggests that the individual must be subservient to a big government state and so, individual failures whilst regrettable are ignored by the collectivists on the road to the promised utopia.

    Meanwhile, people who have never had a real job can make themselves millionaires and be rewarded way beyond their abilities.

    Thus, why no-one from the inner-party resigns, it may also be why they think a 22-year old relative of an inner party member should be given a first-class ticket to the gravy train, by trying to select her as a PPC.

  9. Waramess
    Posted April 19, 2009 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    Its about the money, nothing else.

    Selling souls has nothing on this and unfortunately its not confined to any one party.

    Best bet would be to take away the pay differential between ministers and backbenchers, and then we might start to see a difference

  10. Acorn
    Posted April 19, 2009 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    Would you give up a job where you can pull down close on a quarter of a million a year in pay and scams; plus, a full pension after twenty years; you can do even better than that, if your name is Prescott!

  11. Ian Jones
    Posted April 19, 2009 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    Its ok on the last one, I see Darling has announced the Govt will buy 50bn of mortgages “to get the market moving” or should that be booming.

    This has to be the worst Govt for a very very long time, they will do anything to stay in power from utter lies to printing and spending hundreds of billions. Time for an election.

  12. alan jutson
    Posted April 19, 2009 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    Worth a look at Frank Fields web site/Blog.
    Last two posts from him have been scathing (telling the truth) about his own Party.
    Interesting to see he is also talking about similar sums to you John for Government borrowing.
    Shame the man was never given a chance, but what do you expect when those in power are frightened of the truth about the state of the benefits system, pensions, economy and the like.

    Reply: Yes, it was criminal that he was sacked before he had time to come up with bold welffare reforms. We needed them then, we need them even more now. It was a great loss, that Blair squandered the huge goodwill and large majority he enjoyed.

  13. Brigham
    Posted April 19, 2009 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    “There are now so many reasons why a decent minister would resign.” How naive you are John. I would predict that not one will do so. “The working class can kiss my a*** I’ve got the foreman’ s job at last.”

  14. Neil Craig
    Posted April 19, 2009 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    These are, except mayve spin, all things which have been going on for years & for which the government minister shares responsibility. Any resignation now would, correctly, look like a rat deserting a sinking ship. It would be a different thing if any of these wastrels had an alternative to put forward but the only one who has is Frank Field whose unflinching Spectator article could have been written by a Conservative, but not a front bench one.

    Disappointed though I have been with Brown one still cannot see any Labourite, exceopt Field who isn’t inthe running, being better.

  15. Matthew Reynolds
    Posted April 19, 2009 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    Of course John you talk from a position of principle & of practicing as you preach because you resigned as Welsh Secretary in 1995 to fight John Major for the Tory Crown.

    Your article is absolutely spot on and any Ministers with any integrity at all should quit. But of then they want a ministerial salary for as long as possible to maximize their financial cushion after they lose office & then there is the pension…….

    I think with New Labor in their shallow rootless SDP type way that principle went out of the window – that is why only 26% are crackers enough to want four more years of this disgrace visited on our nation.

  16. rik
    Posted April 20, 2009 at 2:44 am | Permalink

    Well written I would like to see more lists like. Maybe open a blog entry for people to post their ideas. I am sure it would grow and grow.

  17. mikestallard
    Posted April 20, 2009 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    As to the future:
    Short term: well said!
    Longer term: will the Liberals actually overtake the Labour and become the Opposition party again? I do hope so!
    Even longer term: a new charismatic Tony Blair, perhaps who will galvanise socialism, once people have again forgotten that the whole thing is just a godless scam. I give it 20 years when the new generation of Comprehensive children reach 35 years old.

  18. xsdogskin
    Posted April 21, 2009 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    You mention Iraq and Afghanistan, the credit binge and the crash, erosion of civil liberties.
    Where was the opposition to this? The speeches highlighting the folly? There was scant few.
    If the labour cabal had an effective opposition watching and criticising, then perhaps half of the horrors we are being forced to endure wouldn’t have been.
    No John, this is not just a failure of the labour party, it is a failure of democracy.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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