Thursday, September 21, 2006

Fine resignation speeches

I just got elected unopposed [*] as both the Chair of the IEEE UNSW Student Chapter and 2007 Board Member of the UNSW Engineering Faculty. Unlike typical student representatives and executives, I pledge to actually do something rather than use it for resume points.

But anyway, for a bit of fun, I've been studying the 2003 resignation speeches of two prominent politicans. Guess my next degree will be Arts, majoring in Politics. Politics is a great sport if only it were productive. Now, on with the goods:

1. Robin Cook

The British Leader of the House resigns over the government's handling of the 2nd Iraqi War. Great speech overall with the piece-by-piece deconstruction of the "Weapons of Mass Destruction" argument but this bit is truly exceptional:

I intend to join those tomorrow night who will vote against military action now. It is for that reason, and for that reason alone, and with a heavy heart, that I resign from the government.

If you watch the above link's video, albeit lo-res, it's how he says the last bit so simply and unemotionally, that his betrayal is even more shocking. If I were reading the speech, I would have said it far more forcefully.

He got a standing ovation BTW. A politician willing to stand up for what s/he really believes in deserves one. As a rule of thumb (but doesn't apply in this case), such politicians with the brains and big ideas are generally the ones that don't survive in politics for long due to the party machine men. Think Mark Latham.

Too bad the Prime Minister wasn't in the chamber at the time. I'm surprised the government didn't try to gag this rather damaging speech (as such motions, at least in Australian Federal Parliament, are voted on immediately according to the Standing Orders).

2. Simon Crean

The Australian Leader of the Opposition takes a number of subtle and funny stabs at the people who destabilised his leadership:

Don't let your personal ambition cripple the Labor Party as it puts its case for a fairer and better Australia.


This ballot next Tuesday, is not only about leadership, it's about Labor standards, Labor values and how we conduct ourselves as a party.


I especially want to thank my senior front bench colleagues who have served the Parliamentary Party well and have remained loyal to me

In hindsight, the most ironic comment of all would have to be this:

Don't put a revolving door on the entrance of the Opposition Leader's office. That door only leads to permanent opposition.

The Opposition Leaders have been Kim Beazley, Simon Crean (the one in question), Mark Latham and guess what, Kim Beazley again. Full circle, huh?

Time will heal, in my view any personal hurt, thus hurt that comes from events like today.

No video this time but from memory, Crean gets real emotional here. I love his choice of words in true political style. He could have said the more straightforward:

You bastards for stealing my prime ministership!

but being a politician, he didn't. Pity.

[*] In case you missed it (and I wouldn't blame you if you did), the font is satirising the old biography pages for a particular political party. In reality, if you are elected unopposed, this simply reflects the sad state of democracy: it doesn't mean no one wanted to vote against you - it just means there were no other candidates.


Jonathan Riddell said...

"I'm surprised the government didn't try to gag this rather damaging speech."

They can't, every resigning minister has the right to a speech in parliament. The government doesn't control what happens in parliament except for the time they are allocated.

Clarence Dang said...

Because, at least in Australian Federal Parliament:

80  Closure of a Member speaking

If a Member is speaking, other than when giving a notice of motion or moving the terms of a motion, another Member may move:

    That the Member be no longer heard.

The question must be put immediately and resolved without amendment or debate.

I'm having trouble finding the British Parliament's Standing Orders though.