You know the drill with political resignations: first, there’s the Great Lurking Affair / Financial Misdeed / Criminal Allegation / Misleading Statement that slithers in and out of the headlines for months and months, creating an undercurrent of suspicion.
Then, faster than you can say Costa Concordia, the waves crash in, there’s a spare seat on the Commons benches and a reshuffle hastily plugs the gap.
So it was this morning with Coalition energy secretary Chris Huhne, forced to pack in his frontbench career over a decision by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to charge him over allegedly asking his wife to accept driving-license points for a speeding offence he allegedly committed.
While it would be remiss in this now pre-trial stage for Professional Manager to comment on the various buck-passing issues that emanate from this incident, we can nonetheless offer a few insights into the political-resignation mindset in general.
Firstly, it’s clear that political resignations are becoming rarer and ever-harder to effect, no matter how much press or public pressure comes to bear on the MP in question. UK governments are, by and large, developing thicker skins to criticism, and MPs can be in the firing line for weeks, or – in Huhne’s case – months before they go quietly into the ministerial night.
Of course, there are practical considerations, too. Preserving continuity in the event of a senior resignation is a nightmare at the best of times in even a modest-sized company, but in the realm of national government – where the management of entire infrastructures is at stake – you’re looking at one mighty batch of handover notes. Perhaps the trend among politicians for hanging on by the stubs of their fingernails is nothing more sinister than a time-buying exercise to ensure that relevant information is methodically farmed out to the right people in preparation for a reshuffle that they know will happen, but won’t be hurried into.
But as Huhne joins David Laws and Liam Fox in the Coalition’s sin bin, we suspect that sparing the government’s blushes for as long as humanly possible may have just a tiny bit to do with it as well.
This image was originally posted to Flickr by David Spender at http://flickr.com/photos/8313664@N03/4434030255