Collective Responsibility

From the BBC:

“Mr Cable said he was not threatening to resign but the position of a lot of frontbenchers “would have to be thought through…depending on what happens over the next few days”.

What kind of political fantasy-land is this, where you can publicly announce you have no confidence in a party leader and still think that you can remain on the front bench? Or is this yet more evidence that those of us who smirk when the Lib Dems talk about their “shadow cabinet” are absolutely right to do so? I know this isn’t politics-as-usual, with Kennedy’s leadership dead in the water – or perhaps drowned in the proverbial butt of malmsey – but even so, there are political decencies to be observed here, and Cable’s cabal do seem to be a bunch of remarkably cowardly politicians. Norman Lamb was pathetic on Newsnight last night, agreeing that his crew had some talking together to do. Yes, indeed.

UPDATE [5PM]: Given that much of the front bench is publicly threatening resignation now, I should retract some of the above. But I’m still puzzled. Why are these people saying they will resign from the “shadow cabinet” if Kennedy stays? Why not just resign and wait to see if a new leader will appoint them to the same or different posts? Are they worried that if they resign from the “shadow cabinet” they will be at some kind of a disadvantage during the leadership contest? Or are they all terrified of being the first person actually to do something, in case they get some kind of Judas reputation, and so want to make sure that they all act together, and can only find unity in these weak “if you don’t go we resign” formulations?

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