I was determined to distance this blog from the ‘Diamonds aren’t forever’ theme of late…and then #sozbourne happened. Whilst John Prescott’s surprisingly witty tweet had me chuckling in delight I couldn’t help but be surprised that Andrea Leadsom, Conservative MP and member of the Treasury committee, had been so frank in undermining a member of her own party. In admitting she thought chancellor George Osbourne should apologise to Ed Balls for saying he had "questions to answer" over the Barclays rate-fixing scandal, she has opened George up to a stream of unrelated criticism.
Prescott has played a clever move, #sozbourne has prompted calls for George to apologise for everything from the banking crisis to the current British misery agenda. My personal favourite #sozbourne called for George to apologise to the nation for ‘the rain, Euro2012, Murray losing Wimbledon, the double dip and a lost generation’. And this isn’t the first time George’s choices have made headlines in recent weeks. His decision to put Chloe Smith, economic secretary to the treasury, on BBC2's Newsnight in his place following the governments u-turn on plans to increase fuel duty was widely judged as a disaster and perceived as a cowardly move on Osborne’s behalf.
His reputation has taken a small battering, but when is it right for a man in George Osbourne’s position to stand up and apologise? His accusation arguably goes far beyond the everyday party banter at the heart of Commons debate, but we are unlikely to see a grovelling Osbourne emerge anytime soon. The delicate balance between admitting that you are wrong and standing your ground is a battle that is familiar to many a politician. But it is also seen as a question of judgement - the general public will forgive the odd mistake being made, but what is unpalatable to them is a lack of judgement. Whether you are a politician or a business leader, arrogance is not the virtue to be best remembered for.
As I close it has been announced that Bob Diamond will forgo his £20m severance package from Barclays and settle for £2m, a year’s salary. Some at the top obviously do know when to eat humble pie, we might see an apology from Osbourne yet but as a fellow #sozbourne tweeter noted, 'To be wronged is nothing unless you continue to remember it’.