Sunday, April 30, 2006

Lazy and deceitful part 2: the cover-up

Following on from Lazy and Deceitful part 1

The Independent on Sunday and the Sunday Times today expose the rot: this was no unfortunate breakdown between the immigration and prison services. This was a mess made worse by Blair himself.

In 2003 Blair caused a panic amongst mandarins at the 70,000-staffed Home Office Empire when he blithely promised to cut asylum applications by half in seven months in a BBC interview. Nice populist soundbite, Tony, but where was the consultation and the think-through? Nonetheless, the Leader had spoken, and officials were instructed by a caught-on-the-hop Blunkett to meet the target by September, (even though Blunkett was worried that it was ''undeliverable'').

What to do? Erm. Quick, tell immigration officers not to visit prisons to serve deportatation orders as they were wont to do on a weekly basis previously. Why? Because those pesky ex-prisoners will only go and claim asylum, tsk, and that'll bugger the fugures for Tony. Grab broom, lift carpet, sweep, and relax.

Except, what do we know about the reoffending rate?

The latest figures (2003), show that 61 per cent of offenders were reconvicted within two years; and 73 per cent of young offenders aged 18-21. The reoffending rate for male adolescents (aged 15-18) was 82 per cent.

Successful rehabilitation can have a dramatic effect on reconviction rates. In-prison drug treatment schemes, coupled with close monitoring for several months after release, have resulted to reductions in reconviction rates to around 30 per cent. Similar results have been achieved by prison work and education

What do we know about rehabilitation efforts for non-British prisoners? Too low a priority in an over-stretched prison service.

And so what does a foreign ex-prisoner do with no support and an urgent need to go to ground to avoid being chucked out the U.K? Sign on? Get a job? Start afresh? How can he? He's going to be hard-pressed to avoid going straight back to robbing, raping, using drugs or whatever he was doing before he was caught and sentenced. It doesn't take a genius to see the huge risks with this current Home Office strategy of ignoring the warnings and going lalalala I don't want to think about it I have a Top Tony Target to bust, ssssh.

Meanwhile, victims who have been brave enough to give testimony to send these now released men down must be terrified today. For a department that talks a great deal about the rights of victims and being tough on crime, this is lazy not-joining-the-dots short-term-target-walloping- quick-fix irresponsible thinking.

And it is deceitful, because the Home Office has given the impression that it is a muddle that only Mr. Clarke can solve by knocking heads together at the Immigration service and the Prison service. In fact, it is a problem of New Labour's own making, because of a shambolic system. Blair's, and Blunkett's on-the-hoof playing to the gallery about deportation and asylum, and a Home Office seemingly more concerned with making the right noises and hitting the right targets than the reality of protecting the public, and managing dangerous offenders have worsened the mess.

The enormous Home Office is too much for one person to manage anyway, and it is likely that the unfortunate Mr. Clarke inherited a mess and then was hamstrung from doing much about it because of New Labour's tabloid fears about asylum seekers and foreign criminals and being tough on crime. The prisons are overcrowded - more than 70, 000 inmates now - and even though rehabiliatation and education and resourcing make more sense in terms of cutting reoffending, fear of red-top ''Prison Holiday Camp'' headlines ties hands. This is an insight into the heart of the Blairite way of doing things, and it isn't good. Tabloid headline Government is not good Government. Mr Clarke got it half right when he attacked last week, decrying media coverage as''Lazy and Deceitful!'' - but it's the Government's obsession with grabbing the right coverage, rather than crafting the right policy that should be criticised, not journalists who rightly query his tough-sounding but ill-considered initiatives.

It's lazy, and it's deceitful, and it's time for Mr. Clarke, and for Mr. Blair to go. This shocking affair plays into the hands of racists, and bigots, and we all deserve better than this endemic focus on quick-fixes and column inches and Tony's latest populist wheeze rather than sensible, strategic, consultative policy-implementation to protect the people politicians are appointed to serve.

What can I do, you may be wondering? Well, you can go look at these...
Backing Blair and London Strategic Voter.

UPDATE: Blair in the News of the World. 'Will I sack Clarke? Well, that depends...''
..on whether he resigns first?
Game over. Surely.

UPDATE 2: Rumour has it that we will have a statement from Mr. Clarke after 6pm. Or Tony will bin him, so he looks tough on the causes of the causes of crime.

Update 3: Not yet...Why the fuss about Prescott? It's prurient. Who cares? Yuk.

Update 4: The reason Blair left Clarke on his own in the Commons on Wednesday was because Clarke lied to the PM; he didn't offer to resign . ( hat tip Blairwatch)

According to a source in a Sun exclusive ''The first the PM knew of his resignation offer was when he heard Charles say he’d done so on the BBC.
“That’s why the PM left the Commons in such a hurry. Charles did himself absolutely no favours there.”

Update 5: Oh dear. 3 weeks is too long to not tell your boss stuff, surely?
End of the week, then? Boot, arse, door.

Update 6: Mr Clarke in the Eastern Daily Press (the main Norwich& Norfolk) newspaper. He hopes to stay on. I do feel sorry for him. But the main point of the Home Office is to protect the public. Asylum targets and the pointless I.D card scheme has diverted attention from sorting out the chaotic prison and immiagrations services. It is not joined up thinking, coming on the back of Blair's ''harry, hassle and hound foreign criminals out of the country'' stuff just looks like Government incompetence. Blair has had 9 years to sort out the Home Office after all, and if it is still letting foreign prisoners out to reoffend when they shouldn't be in the U.K in the first place, and they should be deported as soon as they are released, then it is simply not doing its job effectively, and someone has to take responsibility for it. If you claim the work of officials as your own, then you have to claim their mistakes as your own too. That goes for both Mr. Blair and Mr. Clarke.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


I dont know if this is the right place to air this so simply censor if you need.

To the facts: the home office handles all aspects of immigration including work permits. They like to say how only legal working is allowed. But what is 'legal' I ask. In my sphere of work, IT, there has been a history of abuse of the various methods by which large multinationals can bring in foreign workers. We all hear about 'skills shortages' again exactly what skills? To cut to the chase, the Home office has turned a blind eye to well documented examples laid before it, over a period of years in fact. I can provide the web references if required.

What I am trying to show is that there is a culture in this department of doing things on a nod and wink, so that in theory a foreign worker cannot replace an existing UK national but in practice if big business wants something it generally gets it! Those articles you reference show a similar pandering to dictats from the top. If big business has the ear of Tony then anything is possible. Likewise the red-top-tabloids.

Keep up the good work Rachel.


PS. I hope this does not sound like a right wing red-neck rant as ironically my background is very much from the left and I now dispaire and despise all of the 'New Labour' ethos.

April 30, 2006 11:34 am  
Blogger fjl said...

Have deleted post about not joining in with the press, as it wasn't for everyone.
(Have to keep doing this as the moment you print something it's in the hands of the insalubrious neer do wells that bother these blogs).

April 30, 2006 4:04 pm  
Anonymous Dr Dan H. said...

Am I alone in thinking that this, the revelations about Prescott's love-life and a minor scandal about cannabis in John Reid's house are all somehow connected?

All these incidents blew up almost at the same time. Even for a government as sleazy as Labour, this is extremely unusual. Coming hard on the heels of the "Cash for Peerages" scandal, I'm getting suspicious.

Suppose someone has known of these scandals-in-waiting for a long time. Suppose that someone had an interest in making Blair look extremely silly, and wanted to spike the wheels of any and all Labour heavyweights likely to get in his way in a leadership contest.

I think these incidents are connected, and someone or other in the Brown camp has decided that since Blair was reeling from the Peerages thing, and the Labour party was too skint to buy people off, it was time for Clark and Prescott to take tumbles.

Has anyone seen Gordon Brown recently?

April 30, 2006 4:23 pm  
Blogger Parlicoot said...

Great post - so glad you're back again :)

Tony's Targets have some very personal effects as a result of his Tabloid Government.

May 01, 2006 1:21 am  
Blogger Rachel said...


I don't want a private investigation: I want a PUBLIC enquiry. This is not my research, this is something that affects all of us and as I just happened to be on the train, I bang on about it not for me, but for mnay.

As to prurience, I am not interested in Prescott. But I am interested in Government being fair, about about substance not spin, for the many not the few. Not everything is about July 7th, and I was political before July 7, I still am, and I for me, Blair, Clarke, the anti-terror startegy, the foreign policy the DCMS, the culture of new Labour and July 7 are all intra-connected. I'm not interested in private meetings with M15, or police, if I cannot eventually share the truth with all the other passengers and those at risk of future terror attacks. Which is all of us, via the media. Or via blogging.

This blog is personal and political, about July 7 and about life before and after July 7, because that is what, and who, I am.

May 01, 2006 7:30 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


As I believe I have said before, I think that the only way you will get a proper enquiry is a change of government. Even then you may need to wait long enough to for some of the civil servants in question to retire.

Do you remember the Chinook helicopter accident? - in that case despite all the efforts of the ministers to force an enquiry, nothing happened.

In this case, the main resistance will come from the politicians. No doubt we will find many things of the Able Danger type.....

The Anon

May 01, 2006 10:07 am  
Anonymous Tim Neale said...

Saving all the dirt for release at the most politically damaging time does not indicate a conspiracy, just ruthless politics.

May 01, 2006 11:01 pm  

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