Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Lazy and deceitful

Right. I've bloody well had enough of the Home Secretary. I've tried to keep quiet about it because we are supposed to be meeting up again in May, this time with other survivors of 7/7, and so I judged it pertinent to keep it zipped in the interests of further fruitful dialogue. And he was very nice to me when I met him in Norwich. And he has apologised to my dad after the 'insult'. After our meeting, I felt sorry for him because he had been getting such a kicking, and I always want to believe the best of people. Maybe we had all been too hard on the poor beleagured Mr. Clarke, who had smiled at me when I shook his hand a few weeks ago.

But I can't keep schtum anymore. I am so disappointed with the man with whom I sat for 25 minutes. I really wanted to believe that he was doing his best to keep people safe from harm, (and that was why he was interested in talking privately to 7/7 survivors.)

Last week, the news that those who are wrongly imprisoned and freed on their first appeal receive will not receive any compensation. That really offended me. (Just how worried are you about having to compensate the wrongfully imprisoned, Mr Home Secretary? We all know about backing the 90 days imprisonment without charge - thankfully defeated but we're still left with the draconian 28 days. How many people are locked up who shouldn't be? How many more do you want to lock up on suspicion but without charge, without trial? And are we any safer for it?)

Then, yesterday, Mr Clarke was getting snippy with the ''lazy and deceitful'' pesky liberal media. Or, three journalists to be exact. I'm surprised he missed Matthew Norman's ''poisonous puffed-up jug-eared gargoyle'' column off the list (but hey, he'd already got his feelings off his chest about that. )

Yes, we know what you think about liberals, Mr. Clarke. We all know you know we don't know what's good for us. We know you think we need the paternal eye of the state watching over our every move, just to keep us safe from ourselves. Safe from demonstrating about the wrong things, thinking the wrong things, believing the wrong things, talking to the wrong people...

To call your critics ''lazy and deceitful'', Mr Clarke, is a bit much. The press is doing its job, calling you to account over the creeping authoritarianism of Blair's government. Those of us who protest about the frightening erosion of our civil liberties are dismissed as ''pathetic liberals'' but we will not shut up, and we are grateful to the media for highlighting what is going on and for having a debate about it.

Liberty and liberties are bloody important, Mr. Clarke. I do not think it is 'pathetic' to cherish and protect them.

The most important modern freedom is now apparently ''the freedom not to be blown up on the way to work''. No it isn't. The most important freedom is the freedom to be able to live freely, not fearfully. And anyway, how does clamping down on civil liberties make me safer on the way to work?
The ''rules have changed'' in the ''modern'' world according to Mr Blair. No they haven't, not that much. The bombs on July 7th were simple criminal acts of mass murder, and it demeans us to throw away long-cherished values because of posturing and fear-manipulation by those who want to keep their jobs by playing to the gallery . We've had worse than this, over the years, much worse. We're not at risk of invasion by a facist state, or being nuclear-bombed by a super-power. We didn't rip up the rule book then. Why now?

The laws we already have are sufficient to protect us all, there is no need for such sweeping legislation changes, and such unfettered executive power-grabs. I.D cards, for example, would not have stopped Germaine Lindsey detonating his bomb on my train last summer. In fact, it seems he was careful to carry I.D which was found at the scene.

This thinking, and this rhetoric is lazy and deceitful. And I have had enough of it.

What you should be concentrating on, Mr. Clarke, rather than busily colluding in the shredding of the fabric of the British constitution, is doing your damn job properly. Last summer, you were warned of an unholy mess as 900 dangerous prisoners - paedophiles, rapists, vicious robbers and murderers, who should have been deported - were set free. They have served their time, but they should not have been in the country in the first place. They should also have been under close scrutiny once they were released. I hope they had been rehabilitated, and no longer thought of doing harm. I hope.

Today we find out Mr Clarke does not know where the hell they are. It is your job to know. You don't, so you are not doing your job properly.

Tough on crime? Let's remind ourselves of what you were banging on about yesterday, Mr. Clarke. Remember this sentence?

''The right not to be killed by someone who has served his sentence for violent crime but remains dangerous''.

Right, exactly like the people who are now roaming the U.K who should have been deported? The ones you have lost track of?

For pity's sake, this is just *hopeless*. And once again, I'm sorry to say, it is scarily personal with me.

In July 2002 I was beaten, raped, robbed and left for dead by a foreign national, a violent and sadistic crack-addicted teenager from Jamaica who had entered the coutry illegally. He broke into my flat, having followed me home. In December 2002 he was caught after a series of violent street robberies, and locked up, thanks to the hunch of a policewoman in South London. His DNA matched that taken by the tireless police officers of Harringey Sapphire Unit, the Met's Sex Offences investigation team from my attack. In January 2004, after a drawn out and painful legal process, he was finally sentenced at the Inner London Crown Court to 15 years in total, 12 consecutively and 3 concurrently. The judge described him as ''a dangerous and sadistic young man.'' He'll probably be out in 2009, maybe 2008.

It was a hell of a battle to get justice, the conviction rate for rapes is less than 5%, despite the efforts of the Home Office when they talk about the rights of victims and improving the rape attrition rate. When my attacker is freed, he is supposed to be deported. Right now, I am very afraid and right now, I despair. Will JW, my rapist come after me in a few years time? Very possibly. What assurances can you give that the situation is under control?

Very few, it seems.

Yesterday you said that people like me, who attack you on your civil liberties record were ''out of step'' with public opinion.

Now, I think you are out of step with public opinion. The public wants you to go, judging by the calls that were coming into the news yesterday. You've let me, and people like me, down. Badly.

You can call me a ''pathetic liberal'' if you want, you can call me out of step with your opinions, you can tell me I don't know what's good for me, that I don't understand, that you need to stay to clear up the mess, but you have had since July last year to clear up the mess about the dangerous criminals who were not deported . You were warned. And it got worse, not better since the warnings. I can't believe you are still in your job. You can certainly call me an ex-Labour voter, at least while this rotten, spinning administration continues to cling to the power it so unhealthily craves.

I personally think you should resign. You've let us all down. I don't expect that we will meet again in May, but you never know. If we do meet again, I will want to know what you are actually doing to keep people safe. Rhetoric is one thing, deliverables another. You knew there was an almighty disaster waiting to happen, you were warned and warned and you still let 288 another dangerous people out anyway, and then you lost them.

And if one of them harms someone, then what will you say? How can I believe you when you say I will be safe when my rapist has served his sentence? How can I believe anything you say, Mr Clarke? I don't feel any safer than I did on July 7th last year. At least then I thought I would never see the man who raped me ever again. Now I am not so sure. And this week, how many victims of crime worry about their safety? We were told that by giving testimony and convicting such men, we did the right thing. We made ourselves safer. Really? Can you look me in the eye and tell me that, truthfully, now?

I used to believe in this Government. I voted for Labour at every election since I was old enough to vote. I was thrilled when Labour came to power.

I am not voting Labour again until I see people whom I trust and respect in Government. I have had enough, more than enough. Do the honourable thing, someone, tell the truth, show some humanity and gain back some trust. Mr Clarke should go, and so should Mr. Blair. Until they do so, there will be anger and mistrust between the leaders and the led. There will be a stinking cynicism at the heart of our democracy, and instead of dialogue, only a resentful silence.

A poisonous silence, that shames democracy, and all those who say they love liberty and freedom and believe in acountability. That shames us all, whilst we let it continue.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said. I can only hope that the people at the top are going to start doing the right things.

April 27, 2006 3:01 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Superb, Rachel.

April 27, 2006 3:51 pm  
Blogger R said...

Nice one! Have you seen the latest on postal vote fraud at next week's elections. Also, I was wondering what you made of London Strategic Voter (

April 27, 2006 3:57 pm  
Blogger R said...

PS - the Lib Dems have already started a petition for Clarke to go!

April 27, 2006 4:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brilliantly put, Rachel.

And thank you, too.


April 27, 2006 10:16 pm  
Blogger Fiona said...

Your blog got a mention in The Times this week and I only hope the Quaver-eared weeble one uses some of his well paid time where he ignores serious warnings, to pay this some heed.

April 27, 2006 10:27 pm  
Blogger Davide Simonetti said...

Hi Rachel,
Great post. I understand your rage. I fear its only a matter of time before one of these 1,023 (or more) people re-offends (if it hasn't happened already). When/if that happens Charles Clarke is toast. But then, of course, it will be too bloody late and his sacking will be poor consolation for another life ruined. I just don't accept Blair's argument that Clarke is the only one able to sort out the mess; he has had ages to do it and its got worse.
Clarke has to go NOW.

By the way, I hope you are well.
All the best


April 28, 2006 3:40 am  
Blogger Davide Simonetti said...

I agree with you that Charles Clarke did not start this mess, that honour I think goes to David Blunkett. But the situation worsened significantly after Clarke was informed of the problem. It is simply a matter of incompetence; anyone would expect to be fired for screwing up like that.

I'm not attacking the security services either, at the end of the day we need them and they have to work with what they are given. They will always be there no matter who is Home Secretary. Clarke's history of incompetence goes right back to when he was Education Secretary. Remember when he said that 'education for its own sake' was 'a bit dodgy' and his remarks about the study of medieval history being merely 'ornamental' and not worthy of taxpayers money?

As Home Secretary his abject stupidity endangers all of us and his refusal to hold an inquiry into 7/7 verges on criminal. I think another Home Secretary might be a better idea. Where my argument falls down, of course, is when I try to think who could replace him with. The sychophantic moron Hazel Blears or Radovan Karadzic's old drinking buddy John Reid... you see the problem.

You are absolutely right to focus on Blair as the ultimate holder of responsibility in all this. It is Blair who chooses these people to surround him and it is Blair's ego and greed that gets him and therefore us into trouble. It is also Blair's style of leadership that encourages his ministers to avoid all responsibility and accountability for their actions. Although Rachel has far more cause to be angry than I do, I am angry nevertheless. Removing civil liberties affects us all, as does exposing us to danger. We have seen that our government does respond to intense pressure when it cannot wriggle out of trouble.

Britain's involvement in the war was completely wrong on so many levels. Support for America maybe, but during the Vietnam war Harold Wilson managed to express 'moral' support without actually sending any troops, despite inetnse pressure from LBJ.

I'm not so sure about the comparison with Sir Charles Warren, I don't think he was so, well, intellectually lazy the way Clarke is, and I do think the problem here is laziness and complacency which are unforgivable traits in a minister.

Even if he doesn't go now, he will go very soon anyway. Blair isn't going to last much longer (I think May 4th will be his watershed)and Gordon Brown hates Clarke's guts. So we should get used to, and establish relationships with potential successors. Heckling politicians is a grand old British sport open to anyone, but I do agree that just rudness for the sake of it is unproductive. However, when faced with such arrogance, the temptation to take him down a peg or two is irresistable. Hubris is always the crime that eventually gets gets them all. We are seeing that now with the whole New Labour project. Finally (because I've rambled on for ages) I do agree that the KCU survivors should see justice and some sense of closure. There is a better chance of that happening without the Safety Elephant IMHO.

Warm Regards (and no tomatoes :))


April 28, 2006 12:35 pm  
Blogger Holly Finch said...

great post oh my it's good to be back...i've only been away 2 weeks and it seems that the blunderers have surpassed themsleves....i think i'm going back to the caribbean pronto!! xx

April 28, 2006 1:20 pm  
Blogger Ally said...

This is a fantastic piece of writing. I am linking to it if that's okay?

April 28, 2006 5:52 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

Hello everyone and thank you for your insightful comments. Please link, Ally, I'm honoured. Strategic Voting is something that I don't normally run with since I think it can be ery negative and cynical, and it is a shame to punish the often-excellent local councillors for the sins of the Cabinet, but as I am utterly exasperated I have consulted the site, which is an excellent resource for the angry and disaffected to empower themselves with. I've signed the petition. It's nice to be back and fruit bat free. I hope that you all have a lovely Bank Holiday weekend, and am pleased that it may not rain after all. All the best and more power to you. Rach xx

April 28, 2006 6:52 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Rachel,

Arrived here via Ally's link, and her recommendation was right: what a superbly written piece, and I couldn't agree more with your sentiments.

I hope you too have a good bank holiday; let's hope it doesn't follow the usual British tradition, and perhaps allows a hint of sunshine to get through...

April 28, 2006 7:22 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


The problem with New Labour is that they are founded on the concpt that the spin *is* the action required.

The fact that a speech, a clever press release and an order given does not result is the end they wish is taken as evidence that more of the same is required.

Corporately they have no understanding that there is more. This is understandable - most of the core group came from the worlds of PR and law. The latter group often suffers from the delusion that lawyers know everything - all that is required is another law.

Any Home Secretary that comes from the current top of the Labour party will be more of the same. What we need is someone of the ilk of Frank Field - a man who considers the ends required and tries to find the *suitable* and *moral* means to acheive that end. So, of course they sacked him.

The Anon

P.S. Politically, I would ever vote for Frank Field, myself. He is, however an honest and intelligent exponent of the policies of his ide of politics.

April 29, 2006 11:03 am  
Blogger septicisle said...

This post is in the back of today's Guardian webpage round-up. Congrats :).

April 29, 2006 5:01 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

post of the year? probably.

April 30, 2006 4:52 am  
Blogger Gavin said...

Excellent post. I've linked to your blog, and commented on this post at my own place, partly in agreement, partly in disagreement re overall politics (misplaced trust in Labour). I'll keep reading here.

May 01, 2006 4:56 am  
Blogger Dangerouslysubversivedad said...

Likewise to Tom, I've linked to this post and will add you to the Blogroll when next I get time. Please carry on teaching people that ratcheting up State Power has nothing to do with combatting terrorism or crime.

May 01, 2006 10:39 am  
Blogger Dangerouslysubversivedad said...

Oh and slightly offtopic, RW no offence but you must have balls like beerbarrels to recommend a site which encourages people to vote for a bunch of terror-supporters like RESPECT to a victim of 7/7.

May 01, 2006 10:43 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

Well said, I completely agree.

May 01, 2006 1:29 pm  
Blogger Stef said...

Spot on post and I can only imagine what it feels like to be in your shoes.

British politics has largely been reduced to a question of who manages a series of privatised/ semi-privitised services. And if you're a rubbish manager, well...

May 05, 2006 3:47 pm  

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