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Beyond priceless [updated] May 18, 2006

Posted by lifejacket in Political cock-ups.
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I haven't yet seen the news reports myself, but I hear on the grapevine that five Nigerian cleaners have been arrested for immigration offences … as they arrived for work at the Immigration and Nationality Directorate at the Home Office.

You just couldn't make this up.


[update] Ah, finally the BBC have picked up on this.


More knee-jerks than the Ministry of Silly Walks May 3, 2006

Posted by lifejacket in "Politician he speak with forked tongue".
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Tony Blair says he wants all overseas criminals convicted of serious crimes to be deported immediately.

Horses and stable doors come wearily to mind; so do babies and bathwater, sledgehammers and nuts. But wasn't it ever thus, with this government?

Speaking of doors – please shut the door of No. 10 behind you tomorrow, Mr Blair, after the voters have turned off the lights.

It’s Sunday, Mr Blair: start praying April 30, 2006

Posted by lifejacket in "Politician he speak with forked tongue", Political cock-ups, Sex and drugs etc.
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Blair admits: I might be forced to sack Clarke

Tony Blair last night admitted that he may be forced to sack his Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, as rebel Labour MPs issued the Prime Minister with an ultimatum to declare an early departure date or face a humiliating leadership contest.

Hardly unexpected: things start to look hairy for Blair himself and suddenly his brass balls metamorphose into cotton wool balls and the "absolute confidence" he repeatedly showered on his floundering minister goes flying out the window like a philandering deputy prime minister's underpants.

Mr Blair confessed that he was "pretty angry" that 1,023 foreign criminals who should have been deported were allowed to slip through the net by the Home Office and said there were "no excuses" for the debacle. In an interview, Mr Blair suggested that Mr Clarke's future now depended on what was discovered about new crimes committed by the ex-prisoners, whom police were trying to track down this weekend.

Only "pretty angry"? How restrained of you, Mr Blair. Ah, but of course: you get 24-hour protection and an armoured car to ferry you the several hundred yard dash between Downing Street and the Commons. Thus you aren't one of the public individuals randomly and violently attacked by the convicted criminals your blundering Home Secretary and his minions released onto our streets unsupervised without a second glance. Perhaps if you were, you might have a damn sight more to say about it other than that you're "pretty angry".

I really don't know what's more unsavoury to the mental palate this morning: the Mail on Sunday wallowing in their very expensive exclusive with John Prescott's very unofficial bird (and he's just a tad dischuffed about it), or the fact that Blair gave an exclusive interview to the News of the World (Lifejacket is relieved not to subscribe to either). Mind you, NOTW is a Murdoch rag and he still appears to be clinging on as a back-slapper of Blair's. Say no more.

Synchronicity April 29, 2006

Posted by lifejacket in Sex and drugs etc.
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Cannabis found at John Reid home

A "minuscule" quantity of cannabis resin has been found at the Scottish home of Defence Secretary John Reid.

Yeees … ok, on the face of it I'm willing to believe he might not have anything to do with it. This chap, on the other hand:

Doherty in further drugs arrest

Rock star Pete Doherty is in custody again after his arrest on suspicion of administering noxious substances.

Synchronicity. Don't you just love it? I bet Two Jags/Shags doesn't.

'Bad timing' for Prescott leaflet

A leaflet showing John Prescott in a picture of domestic harmony with his wife was delivered to homes across Hull as news broke of his affair.

On Wednesday the Deputy Prime Minister and MP for Hull East admitted having a two-year affair with his aide Tracey Temple, 43.

Apparently Ms Temple has sold her story to the Mail on Sunday. If you'll pardon the cheap gag, it looks like Mr Prescott really is f*cked now.

Mr Blair bares his priorities April 29, 2006

Posted by lifejacket in "Politician he speak with forked tongue".
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Prescott is absolutely vital to party, says Blair

"While he stopped short of guaranteeing that the Deputy Prime Minister would remain in post in an expected reshuffle, Mr Blair described Mr Prescott as 'absolutely vital' to the Labour Party.

'John is someone of great value to me. People don't know the true value of what he does because it is so often behind the scenes,' Mr Blair told the Daily Mirror."

Call me a pedant, but the issue under question at the moment is whether Mr Prescott is fit for his post. As a public servant, the only relevant measure of his usefulness should be that in relation to how he serves the British public in that post; and as Deputy Prime Minister of this country, the example he sets as our "second-in-command".

In this context his usefulness to the Labour Party is utterly irrelevant, as is his personal value to Tony Blair. Once again Blair shows us his priorities: himself, party, country, in that order.

Five foreign prisoners reoffended April 28, 2006

Posted by lifejacket in "Politician he speak with forked tongue", Political cock-ups.
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Five foreign prisoners reoffended

"At least five of the foreign prisoners freed without being deported have gone on to commit more serious crimes.

Home Secretary Charles Clarke said the five had been convicted since release for offences relating to drugs, violent disorder and inflicting bodily harm.

One of the five had also been accused of rape but there had not been enough evidence so far to prosecute."

Tragic, and inevitable.

Yet Mr Clarke has stated once more his refusal to resign:

"I believe I have the ability, knowledge and talent to lead the Home Office in the best way to deal with those issues and that is what I intend to do,"

Hold on, let's re-write that so it reads rather more truthfully:

"I believe I have the ability arrogance, knowledge ignorance and talent utter incompetence to lead the Home Office in the best way to cling onto my job despite the total pig's ear I've made of the whole shebang since I took over from the last bloke who was forced to leave under a cloud."

It's clear Mr Clarke will not go willingly (he is a New Labour minister, after all), but I shall be keenly watching the Parliament Channel in the hope of witnessing the moment when he is dragged screaming and kicking from his post, through the large vat of tar and feathers that has been simmering in anticipation for the last three days.

Round and round and round it goes April 27, 2006

Posted by lifejacket in Political cock-ups.
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Somehow I missed this one from the Indy in December.

Search for Kurdish refugee deported to Iraq by mistake

"A Kurd who was unlawfully deported to Iraq in the middle of the night is being sought by the Home Office so he can be brought back to Britain.

The 29-year-old man was among 15 failed asylum-seekers expelled last month in the first forcible removals to Iraq. He was flown out of Britain in a midnight flight under the controversial policy, which has been strongly criticised by human rights and refugee groups.

In the High Court yesterday, counsel for Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, admitted a 'regrettable mistake' had been made in forcing Mr A on to the plane to Erbil in northern Iraq."

So let's get this straight. There are at least a thousand cons on the loose in the UK who in the main should have been deported but can't be, because the Home Office doesn't know where they are.

Meanwhile a Kurdish asylum seeker whom the Home Office clearly did have whereabouts for, was deported incorrectly, and now he's back in Iraq and can't be brought back here because the Home Office doesn't know where he is.

Is it just me, or is there a king-sized thread of continuity running through all this?

The key words and phrases being "Charles Clarke", "Home Office", and "regrettable mistake". I would add a fourth and fifth, "unforgiveable incompetence", and "thumbs up their arses", and possibly a sixth, seventh, eighth … but it would take all day.

At the time of this "regrettable mistake", the word from Clive Lewis (speaking for the Home Office) was,

"The Secretary of State has decided that, since we did not follow the policy set out – albeit for the best of motives – we shall use our best endeavours to find him. The Secretary of State has done the decent, honourable thing."

Deja Vu : cue Mr Clarke the day before yesterday, when asked by the BBC to explain why he shouldn't resign:

"I certainly don't think I have a duty to the public to go – I have a duty to sort this out."

FFS. Speaking as someone living in the country where nearly 1,000 dangerous criminals are now loose and unaccounted for (and as a mere pleb, not having recourse to the security measures against violent attack granted to Ivory Tower residents such as the Home Secretary), frankly I don't give a rancid shit how honourable, dutiful, or decent this man and his lackeys believe him to be.

  • Fact: The Home Office is doing a crap job.
  • Fact: Charles Clarke is in charge of the Home Office.
  • Fact: Being in charge means taking responsibility (you can look up that word and its implications at dictionary.com, Mr Clarke). The post of Home Secretary is not (theoretically) a sinecure.
  • Fact: For all their own media spinning, there are Premiership football managers who have a better understanding of the terms "responsibility" and "honour" than the present Home Secretary, and who are prepared to resign for much more trivial matters, and over a bloody game.
  • Fact: The running of the Home Office and the security of our country is not a bloody game.

What in God's name does it take for a member of this government to get a grip on reality, understand that as highly-paid public servants they are responsible to us, and that when they or the people they command have put us in danger then they have utterly failed us and there is no alternative but that they resign?

We're not talking about a couple of trivial errors of judgement. We're talking about highly dangerous and unstable people for whom the Government took responsibility on our behalf, being sent back into our communities to re-offend, because the Government – and particularly the man appointed by the Government to oversee such things – was asleep on watch.

And we're also talking about at least one poor sod with an apparently genuine claim to asylum here, who was incorrectly deported courtesy of Mr Clarke's office, and sent back to the hell that is now Iraq. I'm sure that, if found and questioned, he'd be rather less inclined to accept the Government's blithe dismissal of the incident as a "regrettable mistake".

Anonymous backbencher unmasked April 26, 2006

Posted by lifejacket in "Politician he speak with forked tongue", ID Cards & the Surveillance State, Political cock-ups.
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Ah, so here's the ID-obsessed culprit from today's Commons session (hat tip to Dr_Wibble at NO2ID) :

Stephen Pound (Ealing, North) (Lab):
No one would deny that this is a damnably serious business. […] Secondly, does he not agree that the case for identity cards has now been made?

Mr. Clarke:
As it happens, my hon. Friend will be shocked to hear that I agree with him on his second point. He is quite right, and I am confident that wisdom will spread across the House on those matters.

(On Hansard's "Today" pages)

ID cards seem to be New Labour's viagra: if your political performance stinks, have a dose of ID-cards and everyone will be smiley and agreeable again.

I really can't find any lucid or even vaguely non-offensive comment to make about the above Commons exchange. Perhaps the less said the better.

More Tales from The Ivory Tower April 26, 2006

Posted by lifejacket in ID Cards & the Surveillance State, Political cock-ups.
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More precise details emerged today, about the 1,023 foreign criminals released into our community without supervision or any attempt to deport them as per the law.

The most astonishing fact to emerge is that this debacle was not some brief lapse in Home Office attention, what Mr Clarke yesterday blithely dismissed as the HO "taking its eye off the ball": these prisoners were released over a seven year period, between February 1999 and March 2006. Yet allegedly Mr Clarke only found out about it in August 2005. And yet he doesn't think it "a resignation matter".

Blairwatch goes into a little more detail, and quotes a Newsnight exchange between Clarke and Jeremy Paxman.

From today's Telegraph print edition (pages 1 & 4):

"Only 107 of the 1,023 have been found and considered for deportation, leaving 916 outstanding, although Home Office sources claimed that they knew where some of them were. Twenty of the 107 have been deported. The Home Office has refused to identify any of the criminals."

Perhaps Mr Clarke's cure-all ID card system would have solved the problem. Indeed, a NO2ID member reported today, whilst watching live TV footage of Charles Clarke being interrogated in the Commons, that an anonymous backbencher had piped up that he thought "ID cards would have stopped all this." Because of course, all dubious types wishing to evade the law will use their ID cards with impunity, in order to be identified as often as possible …

[brief interlude while Lifejacket sobs into drink at the unspeakable ignorance of people elected to supposedly represent us]

Good bloody grief, one really has to wonder if the next new planet discovered way out in our solar system will be the one where in some acidic pool they discover an amoebic form of life called "New Labour", and solve the mystery of where these cretins holidaying on Earth came from.

More stats courtesy of the Telegraph. The men released include,

4 murderers
3 men convicted of manslaughter
5 men convicted of sex offences against children
7 men convicted of sex attacks against adults
27 men convicted of indecent assault

(Many of the sex-related offenders were on the sex offenders' register and should be subject to supervision in the community.)

9 rapists; 27 people with convictions for indecent assault
93 robbers
41 burglars
4 kidnappers; 3 people convicted for false imprisonment
100+ people with convictions for violence (includes 54 for ABH/GBH)
200+ people jailed for drugs offences (including 62 for supply of drugs)

According to Home Office data, 237 of the offenders were failed asylum seekers, and 54 were still having their applications considered.

Of the 160 cases where deportation had originally been recommended by the courts, only 14 have been identified, of whom 5 have been deported and 9 considered "inappropriate for removal". Unlike Charles Clarke, who is more than appropriate for "removal" but still insists on clinging to the deck rail and listening to the screeching last strains of the proverbial band.

And just to add the cherry to the cake, the Home Office has no idea what offence 103 of them comitted to be convicted in the first place.

Of course there's also the trivial matter of the 288 foreign offenders released since the Home Secretary learned of the problem in August last year.

Tea, anyone?

Suddenly, that soon-to-be-discovered planet seems a very desirable deportation target. Let's send Messrs Blair, Clarke, Burnham, Mr RH anonymous-backbencher, all of them, the whole fermenting fruit basket full of them, back there, together with any of the 1,023 criminals that they actually manage to track down. Personally, I think they all deserve each other.

Ivory tower is no defence April 25, 2006

Posted by lifejacket in "Politician he speak with forked tongue", Political cock-ups.
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"The home secretary has said he will not resign after it emerged 1,023 foreign prisoners had been freed without being considered for deportation.

Charles Clarke said he did not know where most of the people, who include three murderers and nine rapists, were.

'It is unreasonable to expect ministers to know what is going on in every nook and cranny in their department,' said Mr Blair's official spokesman." [link]

God. give. me. strength.

Nook and cranny? FFS how on earth can the overlooked deportation of 1,023 violent offenders be something so trivial that it might possibly be hidden in some cobweb infested corner of the Home Office?

Besides the fact that any manager worth their salt knows exactly what is going on in their department (else they shouldn't bloody well be in the job), this is not a trivial matter of who forgot to order the stationary, or who used the last of the milk in the office fridge.

This is a matter of 1,023 convicted foreign murderers, sex offenders, drug-dealers and thieves being released post-sentence onto Britain's streets when they should have been considered for deportation or removal. Indeed, in many of these cases the sentencing judge had firmly recommended that the offender receive a helping hand to the airport upon release.

True, those released had duly served those sentences; but British law dictates that foreign nationals committing serious crimes in our country should forfeit their rights to be here. That they should no longer be allowed to enjoy any of the particular social benefits of living in this country (or whatever remains of those benefits, in the nascent police state which is New Labour Britain).

For a moment this voice piping up on the sidelines flummoxed me, as at first glance I thought he was venting sour grapes against Mr Clarke:

Former Home Secretary David Blunkett called the problems "astonishing". "My view is that heads should roll," said Mr Blunkett.

… until I read further …

"There are too many people in the system who simply don't care. I fully support Charles Clarke in getting to the bottom of this."

Ahhhh … so heads should roll, but not Mr Clarke's. Because of course he isn't remotely responsible for the running of his own department unless the tide of publicity is running in his favour. He's more than willing to smile at the Press and put his name to numerous New Labour instruments of state control under the flaky and over-used banner of "fighting terrorism"; but when his department makes a monstrous cock-up that could (and the odds are, probably will) affect the safety of law-abiding British subjects, and indeed other, law-abiding foreign nationals living in our country, then it's nothing to do with him, it's the fault of some poor sap in the back office who, according to Mr Blunkett "simply doesn't care".

Is being an utter twonk a prerequisite for the job of Home Secretary, or does the incumbent get special training? Or perhaps twonk-ness is a peculiar genetic trait that skips from one Home Secretary to the next.

And anyway, who the hell is David Blunkett to comment? He resigned as Home Secretary after breaching the ministerial code of conduct.