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How – and more importantly, why – is Clarke still in office?

Hold up!

See that little date above?

This post was published years ago.

My opinions have changed over time: I think it's quite fun to keep old posts online so that you can see how that has happened. The downside is that there are posts on this site that express views that I now find offensive, or use language in ways I'd never dream of using it today.

I don't believe in airbrushing history, but I do believe that it's important to acknowledge the obvious: some of what I've written in the past has been crap. Some of it was offensive. Some of it was offensively bad. And there's may be some brass among the muck (you can make up your own mind on that).

Some of what I've presented as my own views has been me—wittingly or unwittingly—posturing without having considered all the facts. In a few years, I'll probably think the same about what I'm writing today, and I'm fine with that. Things change. People grow. Society moves forward.

The internet moves on too, which means there might be broken links or embedded content that fails to load. If you're unlucky, that might mean that this post makes no sense at all.

So please consider yourself duly warned: this post is an historical artefact. It's not an exposition of my current views nor a piece of 'content' than necessarily 'works'.

You may now read on... and in most cases, the post you're about to read is considerably shorter than this warning box, so brace for disappointment.

Charles Clarke’s department allowed 1,023 criminals who should have been considered for deportation to roam free around the country, with some of them committing further offences.

He knew about this for three weeks before he bothered to let the Prime Minister know about it, let alone the Police who need to track these people down.

Even after three weeks, he still didn’t even know the scale of the problem, or whether any of the prisoners had reconvicted.

And yet, he’s stayed in office thus far on the basis that he’s the best person to fix a problem he created. And the longer he stays, the more reports continue to trickle out, and the more damage it does to a Labour government already facing a grim local elections result.

What is he doing? And why hasn’t he been unceremoniously sacrificed?

He clearly can’t stay as Home Secretary. That’s now absolutely obvious, and as clear as clear can be. But in any reshuffle, there’s really no cabinet position of equal power to that of Home Secretary. Foreign Secretary or Chancellor would be a promotion, which would make Mr Blair look arrogant beyond belief. Anything less than those two positions would be a demotion, which Clarke would never agree to. So what’s going on?

If Clarke resigns tomorrow, it’ll hit the papers on Wednesday, the day before the local elections. That’s not satisfactory. He could resign at the point of a reshuffle, but he’s a clever guy – why hang on that long and keep the bad press coming? If he was going to go, from a political point of view he should have done it by now.

So what’s missing? There’s an outside chance that Tony Blair could use the local election result to announce a date for his departure, and relieve Gordon Brown of his Chancellorship to concentrate on the handover of power. Charles Clarke could sneak in and be caretaker Chancellor, which would techincally be a promotion, but no-one would care because the story would be eclipsed. Patricia Hewitt could be shuffled out of Health at the same time.

Prescott’s a stickier problem, because Deputy Leader isn’t a job Mr Blair gets to play with – it’s elected by the Labour Party at large, but again the announcement of Blair’s departure would overshadow any news about Prescott’s pants anyway.

It all seems a bit unlikely, but there’s something that doesn’t add up here.

This post was filed under: News and Comment, Politics.

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11:15
6th May 2006.

This post has been referenced by another on this site:
sjhoward.co.uk » The end for Blair?




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