Go, Mr Clarke, go
The Home Secretary has released over 1000 foreign criminals into our country who should have been deported at the end of their sentence. He has, however, apologised. That is supposed to be enough.
I have to say that this entire episode makes me livid. The way this Government has administered the Home Office, whether under Straw, Blunkett or Clarke, has been nothing short of scandalously incompetent. What is even more sickening is that, despite having to admit that "we simply didn't make the proper arrangements for identifying and considering removal in line with the growth of numbers that were there" there is absolutely no question of Charles Clarke considering his position. Is there no such thing as a sackably incompetent mistake any more? How can he possibly hang on to his ministerial position when he has been so obviously and painfully remiss?
Put simply, he should quit. If ministerial accountability is to mean anything and if we are to have anything other than a dictatorship between elections then for such a monumental cock-up he has to walk.
In his statement today the Home Secretary gave this explanation:
He said he was taking the situation "extremely, extremely seriously in every respect", but he thought it was "better to acknowledge and admit it and deal with it".
The problem had occurred because the Prison Service was not focused on the nationality of its prisoners while the IND was preoccupied with other matters, said Mr Clarke.
"We simply didn't make the proper arrangements for identifying and considering removal in line with the growth of numbers that were there," he said. "That is a failure of the Home Office and its agencies for which I take responsibility."
Except he doesn't take responsibility, or at least no real responsibility, because he assumes no personal consequences arising from this scandal. I have said this before, but oh for a time when Ministers were truly responsible and resigned for such dereliction of duty, knowing that they had to be held accountable for such things but that it needn't necessarily mean the end of their career. As it is our leaders would be fast on the road to becoming laughing stocks; if only it wasn't all so tragic. If only Charles Clarke spent less time railing against the evil media distorting his plans and more time doing his job.
UPDATE: Though maybe Mr Clarke is not that safe with his junior Ministers putting the knife in. "Home Office Minister Mr McNulty said he "did not think it was a case of heads will roll but we'll see"."