Nov. 30th, 2008

peterbirks: (Default)
Politicians haven't really had a good week, have they? Darling has come over as a clueless div (the only reason I didn't have a 2.5% cut in VAT on my radar was because I couldn't imagine even Darling being stupid enough to introduce it), and, while the economy goes to hell in a handcart, UK politicians are getting worked up about "one of their own" getting arrested. Never mind their silence at the abuse of humanity (and of due process) that goes on throughout the UK and the world every day. MP gets arrested for leaking info! Democracy under threat!

Pricks.

The 'bad guy' out of a number of incompetent guys here is senior civil servant Sir David Normington, who may be a very nice guy at the dinner table, but comes across here as a total control freak. It was Sir David who called in the police because the leaks were (in his words) subverting the efficient running of the Home Office. Well, guv, I hate to tell you this, but I have IT people in my office who try to subvert the efficient running of my job every fucking day of the week, but I don't phone the police about it and insist that they investigate the matter as a criminal conspiracy.

In a curious inversion of the normal scheme of things, The Guardian actually seemed quite sympathetic to the police being called in. It hinted, not very subtly, that right-wingers were infiltrating the offices of Labour ministers with the sole purpose of leaking information to the dastardly right-wing press. It said that the affair was not so much one of Clive Ponting (civil servant who leaked Falklands War secrets in a crisis of conscience) as of the 2004 case when a woman in the Cabinet Office, who leaked stuff to the Sunday Times, had previously worked for the Sunday Times.

The Sunday Times took a different line. I had originally assumed that Home Secretary Jacqui Smith was lying through her teeth when she said that ministers had no prior knowledge of the arrest of Damian Green under the offence of "Conspiracy to commit misconduct in public life" -- a common-law crime which is about as obscure as you can get and would, I imagine, encompass the entire Cabinet if one wanted to put one's mind to it. Assuming that ministers are lying through their teeth is normally a sound default position.

If there is one rule that Ministers lay down, it is "no surprises". For her Permanent Secretary to call in the police and for the police to plan and implement a dawn raid on an opposition spokesman, using anti-terrorist officers, is just about one of the biggest "no surprises" cases I can think of.

But, sometimes the unthinkable happens. Ian Blair has gone at the Met and Paul Stephenson (all of these people are knights of the realm -- I'm getting a bit tired of using the prefix) is in, probably now very temporary, charge. And, it appears, the police actually did go ahead with this without Jacqui Smith knowing about it.

I really wouldn't have liked to be Mr Smith, or the cats, or indeed David Normington, on the morning that Jacqui Smith found out.

If youngsters are deliberately infiltrating these departments with the purpose of leaking stuff, it's the fault of the employers for not sussing them out in the first place. To resort to the police because you are too useless to spot that you have (or your boss has) employed a wrong'un is arguably in itself conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office.

If Damian Green actually tried to recruit someone to infliltrate the office of Jacqui Smith, so that he could get hold of leaked documents, well, good on him. The point that Ms Smith seems reluctant to address here is that, if there wasn't a whole bundle of embarrassing stuff that the Home Office in particular and the government in general was desperate to keep secret, then there wouldn't be anything to leak.

++++++++++++

Meanwhile, over in the US, Good Ol' Obama carries on the pretence that there is something radical about being optimistic in the US. Well, duh. There is nothing "audacious" about hope if you are an American politician. It's the easy route of saying nothing but saying it enthusiastically. "The Audacity of Realism", well, that would be gutfull. Unfortunately, given the naivety and love of simplicity in electorates worldwide, no-one wants to here sensible low-key comments that examine matters in detail. Just come out with a few rehashed clich├ęs and pretend that it's radical.

Say what you like about Thatcher, she was at least a genuine radical, rather than a pretend one. Thatcher was Mao, Obama will be nothing of the kind.

Of course, one could say "thank goodness for that".

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