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Thursday, 24 October, 2002, 21:40 GMT 22:40 UK
Was Estelle Morris right to resign?
Estelle Morris has resigned as Education Secretary after weeks of pressure over the A-level marking fiasco.

Downing Street announced her decision to quit in a brief statement, saying letters about the resignation had been exchanged between Ms Morris and Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Ms Morris' rise up the political ladder came to a juddering halt with the A-level row, and there were further calls for her to resign when she overstepped her powers by trying to intervene when an appeals panel reinstated two boys expelled for threatening a teacher.

The heat was turned up again this week in a bust-up over her apparent failure to resign if targets were missed, and now she has thrown in the towel, apparently uneasy with the high-pressure role in the full media spotlight.

Was she right to resign? Will the education system be better off without her? Or has she ended up carrying the can for the failures of other people? And what should happen next?

This debate is now closed. A selection of your e-mails has been published below.

It seems that a passion for education, teaching experience and moral integrity don't have too much to do with your longevity in the role of Minister for Education. She should have had support handling the brutalities of the job. It takes a while to learn these skills. What a loss.
Ian King, England

It is because she was no good at her job that standards dropped

Duncan, UK
Of course she should have resigned. As a Secretary of State, the performance of the department was her responsibility. Its performance has been dreadful by any standards. All these empty words about how nice she is are meaningless. All this respect she is gathering is unbelievable. It is because she was no good at her job that standards dropped and a thousand students missed out on their desired university places. She must have realised some while ago the job was not for her and it was irresponsible of her not to have resigned then and thereby ruined the lives of fewer people.
Duncan, UK

Based on the principle that the buck stopped at her desk, then she was absolutely right to resign. The crisis had escalated all the way to the top and it was right that the top head was seen to roll.
Steve Cahill, England

Actually Ms Morris only "Jumped Overboard" because she had been On Record as saying that she would resign if (her) targets weren't met. If it had not been on record, for the scrutiny of Parliament, she would almost certainly have wriggled out of it, just as in the cases of Peter Mandelson, Keith Vaz and Stephen Byers. Anyone who says otherwise hasn't been paying attention over the last five years.
Mike R., UK

If the true reason for her resignation is the one she gave then she deserves very considerable respect. I cannot remember a politician who had the integrity to say he or she would step down due to inability to do full justice to the job. How many mediocre politicians have clung onto jobs, while blaming all and sundry for their mistakes and then have to be dragged kicking and screaming from their offices? I can only hope that Estelle Morris finds a level to contribute commensurate with her capabilities. An honest politician is virtually a contradiction in terms in today's world and we can ill afford to lose one.
Steven, UK

She was a real person just like the rest of us

Sarah Howes, UK
She was the best thing to happen to education in a number of years. She was sadly too nice and made a scapegoat for the poor functioning of the examination boards. I respect her even more for her admission of finding the job too demanding - she was a real person just like the rest of us, with real feelings and limitations. She will be sorely missed.
Sarah Howes, UK

Estelle Morris has been hounded out by a media with an insatiable appetite for mischief. If it continues it will soon become impossible to find people willing to take high profile posts as they know they will immediately become targets for an unprincipled media pack to denigrate.
Maurice Davies, UK

Was Estelle Morris right to resign? That, of course, was a matter for Estelle Morris alone to decide. All I can say is that I am saddened by the fact that she has gone. Having been a teacher for 23 years, I would say that she is the first Secretary of State for Education that I have known to truly care about the sector she worked for. Others may have been passionate about education in a political sense, even passionate about raising standards, but Estelle Morris seemed to know the best ways to achieve this. Undoubtedly, her experience as a teacher was vital here. I accept the reasons she gave for going at face value as I see no reason for an ulterior motive. I admire her for her integrity, something that her political colleagues would do well to emulate. Somehow though, I doubt that they will!
Malcolm Leigh, U.K.

It is a tribute to her massive commitment to education that she felt she had to step down

Nick Tester, UK
Estelle Morris was wrong to resign but it is a tribute to her massive commitment to education that she felt she had to step down if not able to meet her very high standards and expectations. She was the best education secretary for more than two decades and certainly head and shoulders better than the last two female holders of the post, who went on to become Prime Minister.
Nick Tester, UK

It is interesting to note in responses that support for Ms Morris is based on her in-depth knowledge of education through having been a teacher and caring about it. The problem is that these are good credentials for one who is an implementer but not one who manages large debts and sets policy. She was in the correct position in her previous role and should be reinstated there. However the next education minister should not have historical links to education. This could give him or her the opportunity to look at all the options for delivering a higher standard of education.
Jim, UK

I think she was right to resign. I don't think anyone could carry out their duties efficiently under that sort of pressure. As we are all aware, the whole system is in a mess and I'm afraid the ultimate buck must stop with Tony Blair, he is not doing a good job!
Dave, Buxton, UK

It's hard to keep up with the number of Education Secretaries we have had during the last few years

Simon, UK
It's hard to keep up with the number of Education Secretaries we have had during the last few years. Estelle Morris should not have resigned as the current problems are caused by too many radical changes being brought in without previous changes having time to settle down. A new minister will probably want to make their mark, rather than fine tune the existing system, leading to another fiasco and another minister further down the line.
Simon, UK

Having watched her statement on the news last night, I fully support her decision to leave. No one should be forced to remain in a job where they feel the pressure is detrimental to their physical or emotional health, and where they feel they cannot do justice to the job. I commend Ms Morris for her honesty and bravery and wish her well for the future.
Keith, UK

She had to go. Honest or not she was useless.
Gerrard Fagbemi, London, England

A lamb amongst jackals in the political world

Bev Revie, England
I am the head of an inner city school. She was regarded by many of my profession as someone with an in-depth knowledge of education and a deep passion for it. Her emotional intervention on the subject of the excluded boys was typical of someone who had the good of education (teachers, children and parents) at her heart but was a lamb amongst jackals in the political world. Her breadth of vision for what the best schools could accomplish was inspirational. Much respect Estelle - I hope you are not entirely lost to the world of education.
Bev Revie, England

I'm glad she's gone, the education system, the whole country for that matter, has had enough of this government's faddy approach to teaching... try this, try that... anything but actually invest and give teachers more say and power.
Sean Connor, UK

She pledged to resign if the targets weren't met, and they weren't. As the saying goes, "She put her money where her mouth is." I respect her more now, because she's shown that at least one government minister has managed to keep their integrity intact.
Chris Moss, Liverpool, UK

She was over-promoted

Paul Walter, UK
She was over-promoted in the first place. She needs at least three years more experience in government before ascending to the cabinet. I feel sorry for her. It was obvious she was out of her depth.
Paul Walter, UK

It was wrong for Estelle Morris to resign. She was performing well in her job, but unfortunately the other people's failures has resulted in the resignation of a very decent and honest politician.
Bradley Thomas, UK

I applaud Morris for resigning, it's about time more politicians who aren't up to the job or don't like it resigned. Let's hope we get someone better in, more able to do the job.
Matt, Sheffield, UK

That she resigned is proof she should have stayed. Principles and honesty are needed in today's politics. There is so little of either about.
M Williams, Colchester, UK

Not all the disasters were her fault, but there are only ever two people with whom the education buck stops, and it wasn't going to be Tony Blair who resigned. At least Estelle Morris did, in a sense, honour her original pledge to resign.
Ed Green, UK

Morris resigned as a result of a sustained witch hunt by the media

Howard, UK
Absolutely not. Ms Morris has resigned as a result of a sustained witch hunt by the UK media. The UK needs honest politicians and we just lost one who was elected fair and square, appointed by a prime minister who was also chosen by electoral majority. Why bother with elections at all? Why not let a handful of journalists decide who stays and who goes?
Howard, UK

After all the exams fiasco she should have resigned earlier. Someone had to go as a result of the A-level mess and she is the person with the responsibility. She always seemed to be driven by a desire to leave her mark rather than what was best for pupils.
Joel Hockley, UK

I think it is a shame. But it is typical of the no-nonsense way she operates that she said she thought she wasn't as effective running a huge department with all the media pressure etc. I think it is particularly bad that Tony Blair has lost one of his most able woman ministers in this way. I hope she has a few months off to lick her wounds and bounces back. She deserves a break!
Howard, UK

Of course she was right to resign. Our education system is a total mess and it needs streamlining. Why do UK ministers always feel the need to look abroad when things aren't working? Can't they formulate anything other than stupid league tables?
Giles Jones, UK

I hope she returns in another post.
N Simons, UK

She can't perform in the modern media circus

Jay Raspin, UK
It's sad that an honest, sincere and committed politician has to resign because she can't perform in the modern media circus. It is shameful to see current broadcasters (BBC included) looking for reasons for her downfall. You all share as much of the blame as anyone. Yes, she couldn't hack it, but it is deplorable the pressure you guys in the press put politicians under, especially when they are obviously so committed.
Jay Raspin, UK

She may have been honest (excepting select committee hearings), sincere and committed, but she was also incompetent. This country deserves better.
David, England

She had to go! This government has destroyed the standards to measure talent in a blatant exercise to undermine perceived elitism in further education. The thinking: give everyone an 'A' at A-level, then they can all go to Oxford or Cambridge!
Anon, England

This is a real shame! The teaching profession had in Estelle Morris an Education Secretary who for once had done the same job as them, and was on their side.
David Hartley, Stourbridge, England

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