‘Honoured that you are writing my father’s biography’ the late Tony Benn, ‘...wonderfully written’ Hilary Benn

‘Sparkles with fascinating detail…a remarkable story of Liberal and Labour politics in the first half of the twentieth century.’ Michael Crick, Political Correspondent, Channel 4 News

‘Casts much light both on the evolution of British radicalism, and on the legacy which he bequeathed to his son, Tony. Professor Vernon Bogdanor, King's College, London

‘Brilliant biography…wonderful reading about the father and...discovering more about the son.’ Steve Richards of The Independent

‘Well-written and carefully researched, this fascinating biography brings to life a major figure in British political history…an excellent job of weaving together the strands of a complex life…as well as filling in the background of the Benn family’ Richard Doherty, military historian

Monday, 10 February 2014

Is there a way back into government for Mark Harper?

Conservative MP for the Forest of Dean, Mark Harper, has resigned as Immigration Minister over paperwork irregularities with his cleaner. Does a ministerial resignation spell the end of office for an aspiring politician?

History says that the answer is no. Gladstone and Churchill both resigned ministerial posts and went on to become prime minister.

Beverley Hughes resigned from the post of Immigration Minister in Tony Blair's government in 2004, but returned to office.

The handling of the resignation can be crucial for the ex-minister's career prospects. Mark Harper's resignation is an example of a tidy, quick and well-explained departure - a stark contrast to, say, Ron Davies's resignation as Welsh Secretary in Tony Blair's government after his 'moment of madness' on Clapham Common, which somehow led to his car being stolen. The explanation raised more questions than answers. Mark Harper, in contrast, has provided enough detail to finish the story off.

Harper will now have more time to spend with his constituents. He has been generally praised for his ministerial work, but criticised for neglecting his constituency. The Forest of Dean is something of a bellwether seat, which was held by Labour in the 1990s and returned to the Conservatives in 2005. Holding seats such as this will be necessary for the Conservatives to form another government, so Mark Harper's resignation may well be his best route to ministerial office after 2015.

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