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Tuesday, April 25, 2006 

Charles Clarke gets stuffed.

Clarke's bitter attack on the "poisonous" liberal media has not gone down well over on the Guardian's Comment is Free blog, as you might well have imagined. The best comment by far has been Mamluqy's:

Mr Clarke. You remind me of a bully who bullies a boy for a long period of time. The boy gets fed up of being bullied and one day strikes back at the bully. The bully is stunned by the audacity of the boy and retorts 'Why did you hit me?' Your policies and the policies of your predecessor the now-shamed David Blunkett have attacked the principles of democracy at their core. Now that you are facing some opposition and you are not able to get your anti-democratic policies through without resistance, you cry foul. The media Mr Charles Clarke are completely fed up of the erosion of civil liberties in this country as are the british people. Your use of the politics of fear and your so-called war on terrorism is leading to this country becoming a police state. You were quick to take up the Metropolitan police commissioner's proposal that suspected terrorists should be locked up without charge for a period of 90 days. Fortunately Parliament rejected your attack on civil liberty in that case. You justified your decision to support this proposal by claiming that the police are at the forefront of fighting terrorism in this country and so should be allowed to come up with such draconian measures. You however were not too keen in taking up the police's advise that 24 hour drink licences would lead to greater anti-social behaviour. In fact you went against it. You seem to justify your decisions with whatever is most convenient. The police seem to be setting down the agenda, not the government hence the term 'police state'. You show utter contempt at rulings by the law lords that your detention of terrorist suspects without charge in prisons and your control orders are illegal and defies human rights. You are an utterly abhorrent man. You use democracy when it suits you and completely disregard it when it suits your purposes. Mr Clarke, you should be ashamed of yourself and hold your head down in shame.

It's also spawned a whole series of articles on the blog itself by those fighting back against his claims. Jon Norton has the nail right on the head in his analysis of the Blair dynamic:

We have seen before the Manichaean view that the prime minister takes of the world. His famous speech to the Labour Party conference, when he spoke of the forces of conservatism, was a good example of this; he gave us a personal list of people he did not like who were holding back the progress of this country. There were the good guys and the bad. Grey areas, subtlety and debate were not to be tolerated. It was also to be seen in his strange reference to God regarding his decision to take us to war with Iraq. The pros and cons for that action cannot be debated, because Tony knew it was the right thing to do.
In the view of Clarke and Blair, there is no middle way, except for the "third way". Either you are with us or against us. This was shown in the debate over 90 days; the likes of the Sun and Express took the side of Blair, while almost all the rest of the media was pitted against him, Clarke and the other Blair (Ian). It didn't matter if they used images of those injured in the 7/7 bombings who hadn't gave their permission and were actually opposed to the government's policy, a good illustration matters more than fact. When Blair was defeated, he said he'd rather be right about something and be defeated than know he was wrong and win. They constantly bring up what they say is public support for their measures without providing evidence, or if there is, it tends be on the basis of one poll, where another often contradicts it.

Again, it soon becomes clear why Clarke staged his attack on the Guardian and Independent yesterday. It was to try to soften the insults which will now be thrown at him by those he was wooing with his speech.

The Conservatives today accused Home Office ministers of serial incompetence after an admission by the home secretary that more than 1,000 foreign prisoners, including murderers, had been freed without being considered for deportation.

Charles Clarke admitted that 1,023 former foreign prisoners should have been considered for deportation, including three murderers and nine rapists.

In a briefing to journalists at the Home Office Mr Clarke apologised for the failures, which were made between February 1999 and March 2006, and conceded that the mistakes would understandably prompt anger. He later said the blunder was not a "resigning issue".

The prime minister's official spokesman said later that Tony Blair viewed the failure as "deeply regrettable" but was confident that ministers had now taken appropriate action to deal with the problem.

After complaints from the opposition, Commons speaker Michael Martin will ask Mr Clarke to explain why he made the statement to journalists and not to MPs, and is reported to be seriously considering requests to force the home secretary to make a statement in parliament. The shadow home secretary, David Davis, said: "This astonishing admission by the Home Office is the latest in a long line of failures which have jeopardised the protection of the public. 160 of these offenders were recommended for deportation as part of their sentencing but, of these offenders, only five have been deported. This serial incompetence beggars belief. The home secretary urgently needs to come to the House of Commons to explain the situation."
Why did Clarke make this briefing to journalists and not MPs? Why, there's an election campaign on of course! It's much easier to give a statement to journalists, where you can constrain them from asking troublesome questions, while in the House of Commons ministers have to give way to other MPs who want to make their own point. It's not made clear yet how the remainder of the men other than the 160 were considered for deportation, but not shipped out of the country when their jail terms ended. There is however no excuse whatsoever for not carrying out the orders of the courts in regard to the 160 who were recommended for deportation. Rather than being tagged or kept tabs on, the Home Office has seemingly completely lost contact with them. Some may have left the country of their own volition. The others are instead free in this country when they at the least should have been under close surveillance if they were appealing against their deportation. It will most definitely prompt anger, especially in those who couldn't give a stuff about civil liberties, such as the Sun. Like a boyfriend who doesn't want to alarm his girlfriend or her parents by the noise he makes when he goes to the toilet, he has laid down a layer of tissue in advance. That is the real reason why Clarke attacked those big hitters Jenni Russell and Henry Porter.

This comes on top of today's poll in the Guardian which showed that Labour has slipped 5% since last month, with concern surrounding the loans-for-peerages scandal, which came right after the Tessa mortgage debacle, itself never properly resolved. The Liberal Democrats, making a major comeback after their own internal catastrophes, are up to 24%, with the Tories on 34% unchanged and still without a major boost after Cameron's honeymoon. All bodes ill for the local elections, with Blair and Clarke on the offensive on law and order before revealing their own failures in dealing with the prison system and courts.

Labour now has to realise that it is coming towards the crossroads. It must make the decision about way which it is going; it can either continue to regard itself as the solution and everyone else as wrong, or it can start to listen to the constructive criticism that is being made from all sides of the political spectrum. Some commentators have been right that the battle over civil liberties has been to do with other opposition to Labour policies just as much traditional concern about authoritarianism. It's just that civil liberties at the moment seem to the defining issue, along with foreign policy, that Labour is not listening on, when it promised it would. Blair and his supporters have prostituted themselves completely to the likes of Rupert Murdoch, and are still relying on the same prescription just as the patient seems to realise that it rather likes the taste of the medicine which the other side is now offering. (Yes, I realise I'm stretching this metaphor rather far.) They can either up the dose, as they seem to have been doing in the last couple of days, especially to mask other failings, or they can abandon it and try something new. Blair is not willing to do this, and it's why he must go. Gordon Brown must make his move, and clear out the Blairite dead wood from the cabinet. If he doesn't, then Labour really will lose the remainder of its core support and once again have to spend a generation in opposition sorting itself out. Blair no longer works. Brown must be given his turn.

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Government impunity must come to a stop.

Don't think this is not deliberate, all this 'incompetence' in Parole and Immigration. No one is that stupid.

They are setting up the requirements to neccesitate the National Identity Registry (database). They are creating such a mess we will need it to sort it out again. But why?

Why and How do they act with such IMPUNITY...why do we let them get away with it. All the thieving, lying, corrupt, bullying, wasteful crap that is spinned into neccesary action, which then as they see their problems created requires more action, which creates more problems.

It's like the rest of it. Yes we need to stop terrorists. No we don't need to become an Island Prison to do it. We just need competent government that does not act with IMPUNITY. We need a government which can honestly evaluate the consequences of their actions, instead of making 'targets' as the only truth and squirming and spinning everything else.

Government Impunity is an offence and they are becoming rotten and infected through it.

Government Impunity must come to a stop. Full stop.

Deportation Island: New Reality TV Show in the United Kingdom. Prime Minister Tony Blair announced today his cabinet would be launching a new reality television show. The reality TV show entitled “Deportation Island” will mark the Prime Minister’s directorial debut and represents a direct public relations offensive to combat sliding approval ratings. A poll conducted by The Telegraph places the Prime Minister’s personal approval rating at just 36%.

Executive producers of “Deportation Island” include Home Secretary Charles Clarke and Lord Levy. Clarke was asked to become executive director following his extensive experience handling deportation issues. Only yesterday Clarke admitted that 1,023 foreign prisoners had been freed without being considered for deportation. For more on this story click on the link above.

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