21 January, 2006

Quit it

The Liberal Democrats are in trouble again.

The phrase "errors of judgement" is almost as laughable - and lamentable - as "moment of madness", as used by the then Welsh Secretary Ron Davies in 1998 to describe his bizarre encounter and subsequent tryst with some Rastafarians on Clapham Common. Back then it didn't take the press long to uncover the full story - Gobblers Gulch et al - and the same will happen now.

Why MPs of all parties fail to ever learn from coverage of past scandals and to hence tell the whole truth upfront straightaway is continually perplexing. It always means the controversy lasts longer and becomes evermore lurid. It also has a cumulative effect, like it did on the Tories in the 1990s. Think of Norman Lamont, Threshers and Miss Whiplash. On second thoughts, don't.

It'll knock the Liberals hard, because they're already wounded following the culling of Kennedy. At least Mark Oaten has gone swiftly, if not tidily. Time was when resignation was always done this way. The first post-war Labour Chancellor, Hugh Dalton, quit on a point of principle when a few tiny details of his Budget leaked to the press. The entire Foriegn Office ministerial team, Secretary of State included, resigned en mass when the Falklands War broke out, not because they disagreed with the conflict, but simply because it had started in the first place and they took personal responsibility for putting British lives in jeopardy.

When was the last time a member of any recent Government took such responsibility?


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