Thirty seconds before I got on my flight to Dublin I got a text to say Graham Brady had resigned. Before I go on I should say that I know Graham well. He was a colleague in the early 1990s at the lobbying firm I co-founded. He has been an excellent Shadow Schools and latterly Europe Minister.
I indicated in my post yesterday that by making public the Chief Whip's 'severe reprimand' the party hierarchy was almost inviting Graham to resign. Today's newspapers made even sorrier reading with anonymous sources making clear that he woulld be sacked in the forthcoming reshuffle. anyway. What a pathetic way to behave. These anonymous briefings are cowardly and demean the very people they are no doubt intended to protect. This is no way to treat people. Whatever Graham's mistakes may have been, he did not deserve that. He was minded to resign yesterday but was talked out of it by one senior Shadow Cabinet Minister. The same effort was not expended today. It's not difficult to see why, after this morning's headlines.
Graham was educated in a grammar school and his entire constituency is dominated by grammar school education. That he should want to defend the excllent education provided by schools in Altrincham and Sale should surprise no one. I would hope most MPs would have taken the same line.
Resigning on a point of principle is a rare thing in politics no matter what one's party. While it is no doubt painful in the short term I suspect Graham will not regret it in the long term.
By provoking a resignation in this way, the Party hierarchy has shown it will brook no dissent from its MPs (and candidates, I guess) even when the Party hasn't got an established policy. From that point of view it may be viewed as 'mission accomplished', but the fact remains that the Party has lost a good media performer and someone with a lot of potential.
There is quite an irony in this situation. Guess who was Graham's boss at the CPS in the early 1990s. Yup, one D Willetts.