Maria Miller was entirely right to say, in her resignation letter, that she had become a distraction. She was draining attention away from everything the Government was trying to do. ConHome’s poll, published last night, confirmed the overwhelming desire on the part of Conservatives that she should go. She had become, not quite justly, a focus for the public’s indignation against a political class which is seen as venal and self-interested.
And Miller had failed to master the art of placating critics by delivering a long and apparently heartfelt apology. Her 32-second statement added insult to injury, by being far too brief, and also insufficiently emotional. In this respect, she is an extremely inept politician, unable to adapt to the needs of the moment. This ineptitude made it harder for her defenders, among whom I number myself, to hope that she would survive. She was swept away on an avalanche of public condemnation which she was not nimble-footed enough to avoid.
The general feeling this morning will be that she has done the right thing, but has done it too late. Here too, Miller was not very quick to recognise that her departure had become inevitable. Nor was Downing Street very quick to concede this point. This dogged refusal to admit defeat inflamed the very hostility it was supposed to vanquish. But Miller’s vain resistance has at least demonstrated that David Cameron is disinclined to abandon a loyal minister until that course has become unavoidable.