The ABC of ministerial resignations

I confused one or two people on Twitter earlier by referring to “type A” resignations in connection with Liam Fox’s departure (finally!) from the government this afternoon.

The reference comes from the TuckerPhone app for the iPhone. The app – based on the character Malcolm Tucker from The Thick of It and In the Loop – supposedly consists of voicemail messages and emails on the lost phone of an increasingly furious and foul-mouthed Tucker demanding its return.

One of the emails sets out three “resignation templates”. Copyright – and the fact that this is “a family blog”, as they say – precludes me from reproducing these in full, but here’s a brief summary:

Template A

This is for when “the minister has done us a favour” by resigning quickly and without fuss. “Assume we appreciate them falling on their sword. One good turn deserves another, etc.”

In this template, the prime minister’s reply expresses regret and gratitude to the minister for his noble action in tendering his resignation, concluding:

I very much look forward to working with you again.

Warmest regards to you and [partner’s first name],

Tom.

Template B

This is to be deployed in the event of “Sudden F— Up”, where the minister has “demonstrated – spectacularly – their extreme f—ing uselessness”. “Assume we do not like minister B and owe them nothing”, Tucker advises. The miscreant is dispatched permanently to the backbenches, there to eke out a living as the plaything of desperate lobbyists.

The PM’s reply to this sorry specimen concludes:

You have endured difficult times with great fortitude and self-assurance, and I know you will continue to be a diligent and hard-working constituency MP for as long as you choose to remain in politics.

Yours,

Tom.

Template C

This is for the minister who has “decided to tough it out”. Tucker writes:

Assume I told them to resign 24 hours ago. Assume that they hid away somewhere, sulkily and pointlessly trying to rally support among Parliamentary party members… Assume that I have found them, informed them of their resignation, shaken them formally by the throat…

The prime minister’s response to minister C’s grovelling letter of contrition, in full:

A Short Public Statement from the Prime Minister

I have today accepted the resignation of [C – full name]. A successor will be announced tomorrow morning.

The Prime Minister

Looking at the exchange between Liam Fox and David Cameron, it seems (despite Cameron’s reference to Fox’s wife in the final paragraph) closest to the finality of template B: “You can be proud of the difference you have made in your time in office”. Which is perhaps generous, given that Fox’s behaviour over the past, agonising week has been closest to template C

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