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Well well well.

Charles Clarke has well and truly stuck the boot into Tony Blair and John Reid there.

I'm sure it's completely unrelated to the recent gossip that relations between Clarke and Gordon Brown were warming to the extent that Brown would offer him a top position when (if?) he becomes Labour leader.

"I used to describe myself as tough but populist…. I beg your pardon, tough but not populist. Each Home Secretary has to decide their own style"

A slightly telling slip methinks.

Charles Clarke was personally responsible for driving through:-

1. ID cards and the ID database
2. Regionalisation of the police force
3. Detention without charge for up to 90 days for terrorist suspects

All three policies are awful and he deserves to have gone. I'm not sure what he means by 'change' and 'turning the Home Office around' and 'reform' but if he means any or all of those three policies then the country could certainly do without them, and without a Labour government.

JT, I doubt we will ever have a Labour Home Office secretary who does the job competently, and in the manner we would like to see it done. Clarke listened to his Labour masters and followed his brief to the letter, hence why he's angry now...

I have a respect for Charles Clarke, I think he's followed labour policy to the letter T, no much spin, straight talk and down to earth. You could tell from his facial expressions that some of the policies he was implementing didn't agree with him, but was forced upon him from the top. No wonder he's angry, I would be.

Good stuff Clarke, continue this and labour will destroy itself.

Wow! Did Charles put the boot in or What?? and so calm! He must be so angry he is beyond getting worked up.
The trouble with Nulab is that they are all incapable of admitting that they are wrong about anything. That goes from Blair through Clarke, right down to the lowliest private secretary/backbencher.
Wasnt he on Labour national policy forum? Not much cop there either I guess, if all this NUlab stuff was down to him.
Ah well! All strength to your elbow Charles. Keep up the good work!

I can't agree with you Jaz.I thought Charles Clarke a truly awful Home Sec.He may not have been as populist as Reid but he was obviously an incompetent manager.It does amaze me the monumental egos and thick skins of many politicians.Instead of showing the slightest hint of remorse and regret for a job done badly he seeks to justify himself by dumping on his boss and successor.With his list of achievements at the Home Office most people will think this pathetic! I'm enjoying watching Labour tear themselves apart but I hope the big egos in our party are watching and promising themselves that they will, whatever happens in future, never behave like this.

Agree with you entirely, Malcolm. You might also have added that Charles Clarke has New Labour's authoritarianism stamped into his DNA.

I think the problem with this government as a whole is that right from the top down, they work on the principle of ruling by appearences rather than actually getting the job done.

The foreign prisoner debacle has clearly been going on a long time. Equally clearly, someone else in the Labour hierarchy has known about this and Prescott's stupidity for a long time, and when the "Cash for Peerages" thing blew up decided to really put the boot in.

It may have been Brown; I used to think it was, but now I tend to the idea of a Civil Service insider wishing revenge on an especially gormless lot of leaders.

What you have to remember is that whilst governments come and go regularly, and Home Secretaries are mere political mayflies, the Civil Service is a rock of stability. It is the Civil Service who have to implement the hare-brained schemes dreamed up by the politicians; it is they who are responsible for carrying the actions out, and it is they who exert a far larger influence on the system than anyone seems to think.

I now think that quite a lot of the ills of this government can be laid at the door of the Civil Service. New Labour has presided over an extraordinary expansion of the Civil Service in recent years, and with expansion comes Parkinson's Laws.

In a bureaucratic organisation that is in a state of expansion, a certain personality type tends to do well in middle management. This personality inhabits the hierarchy like a tapeworm in a gut; it has little intellect and uses what little it has to stay in post; it does almost no work save for obstructing others, and it is a past master at the art of buck-passing, issue obfuscation, pointless denial and corporate camoflage.

Times of bureaucratic expansion lead to such parasites flourishing in the Civil Service.

What you then end up with when the top management work on appearences only is a system that tells the bosses what they want to hear, absorbs money like a sponge and expands like a cancer. It is incredibly good at using resources, and completely useless at doing anything new (and pretty crap at doing old things).

Poor old Charlie Clarke got lumbered with this sort of a monster when he got stuck with the Home Office. Under shagger Blunkett the Home Office probably had an easy time of it; Blunkett was too busy dipping his wick and talking bollocks to actually monitor his department, and as a result it went to rack and ruin.

Then Charlie got given it, and got told to reform it. Odds are he cracked the whip a bit, tried to get things moving and then some insider decided to snuff his career for him, and give Prescott a boot for good measure.

And now Reid's been given it. He'll do no better than Clarke did, or Blunkett before them both; to reform a bloated monstrosity like the Home Office takes a dedicated and ruthless man a long time, even if he has many similarly dedicated and loyal friends to help. There's a dearth of such talent in New Labour; spin, deceit and lies breed a different sort of leader to the sort you need for a really effective reform.

Worse, the way New Labour is set up now it is almost impossible to get a reform programme going. Blair's said he'll be off some time, so his authority is ebbing away. Brown is looking ever less the economic genius and more a tax-greedy fool, and behind them a chorus line of sharks waits for blood. Everyone knows that this will be the last gasp for Labour for a while; short of a miracle they're going to lose the next election.

So, no reason not to infight and settle the old scores now. No reason not to put the boot into Reid at every turn for incompetence, since this'll be the last chance they ever get. No reason not to snipe at the Home Office, since the political wilderness awaits many a Labour politician (poor dears will have to find proper jobs soon) and they might as well settle those scores too.

So, I'll finish with this advice: get a nice comfy chair and a beer, we're set for the catfight of the decade as Labour tears its self apart.

One of the best blogs I have read, with a brilliant analysis of the malign influence of the civil service mindset. As soon as any government loses its drive and vision the bureaucrats take over and pursue their own agendas. It happened under John Major and it is happening again now. I only hope that David David one day becomes Home Secretary as he is one of the few politicians around who could sort this mess out.

or David Davis even. Must proofread my comments.

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