Other than the well-trodden line of wanting to spend more time with his children/family, we don’t know if there are more reasons behind Jeff Baron’s very sudden and unexpected resignation as an MP and withdrawal from politics altogether.
He was widely popular – though he had one too many photo ops in my opinion – and was seen as having leadership potential. In short, he was someone amongst the OBA that people could identify with.
There were rumblings about an alleged low attendance rate, so maybe he was disillusioned and the writing was on the wall for some time. Maybe because of that he won’t be missed. Maybe he has seen the writing on the wall and decided to jump while still ahead?
I’ve asked for an interview for Bernews – and until/if that happens, I can only guess.
But his departure, must still be a big blow to the OBA, which seems to have gone completely into its shell since its crushing election defeat last year and I, for one, would not bet against the current 24-12 majority turning to 25-11 once the by-election is over.
There have been no recent polls, but given the utterly ineffective opposition so far (apart from the columns and Facebook posts of three members of the past administration), I cannot imagine that would show that the OBA can expect a successful result, despite defending a majority of around 70.
Where does this leave the OBA?
I’m sure they will say that they are continuing to rebuild and have plans in place to restore confidence in the Party (though those plans are a best-secret if they exist).
The reality, though, is that this might confirm in people’s minds that the OBA is in its final death throes (especially if there is a resounding defeat at the by-election) and how it recovers – if can recover – from such a scenario will be interesting to watch.
Losing a former junior minister, Minister and a newly elected MP – in short one the OBAs most experienced operators – is just bad optics, whichever way you look at it.
In the meantime, the PLP is a very secure Government – although with such a large majority it is sometimes difficult to control a backbench who feel secure in making remarks contradicting the leadership in the knowledge that Government will still win the vote, regardless, and that come election time they will all toe the party line and see it past the winning post.
That security is not necessarily a bad thing as Government can drive through the policies it thinks will work and smoothly run through its agenda.
The problem arises when that agenda goes unquestioned and unchallenged and, as we saw with the Tories post Thatcher, Government gets complacent and takes the electorate for granted.