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

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Hold up! Before you read on, please read this...

This post was published more than 14 years ago

I keep old posts on the site because I often enjoy reading old content on other people's sites. It can be interesting to see how views have changed over time: for example, how my strident teenage views have, to put it mildly, mellowed.

I'm not a believer in brushing the past under the carpet. I've written some offensive rubbish on here in the past: deleting it and pretending it never happened doesn't change that. I hope that stumbling across something that's 14 years old won't offend anyone anew, because I hope that people can understand that what I thought and felt and wrote about then is probably very different to what I think and feel and write about now. It's a relic of an (albeit recent) bygone era.

So, given the age of this post, please bear in mind:

  • My views may well have changed in the last 14 years. I have written some very silly things over the years, many of which I find cringeworthy today.
  • This post might use words or language in ways which I would now consider inappropriate, offensive, embarrassing, or all three.
  • Factual information might be outdated.
  • Links might be broken, and embedded material might not appear properly.

Okay. Consider yourself duly warned. Read on...

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 865th 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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