Interviewed on this lunchtime’s Politics Show, David Cameron said that he didn’t get up every morning and think which minister should resign. He hadn’t called for Ruth Kelly to resign over January’s sex offenders scandal or for Tessa Jowell’s head over her "bizarre" mortgage arrangements. There were three main reasons why he had called for Charles Clarke to go for the prisoner release debacle:
- He had presided over the failure in the first place;
- He had not dealt with the failure when it was brought to his attention last summer; and
- He had misled the press and, perhaps, even the Prime Minister about the extent of the failure when it became public knowledge last week.
The pressure on Mr Clarke has only been increased by the Sunday newspapers. The Sunday Times reports that "a woman who was dragged from the street and raped at knifepoint by a foreign criminal freed from jail has called on Charles Clarke, the home secretary, to resign". The scale of Labour’s crisis has even stopped the Independent on Sunday talking about the issues of Islington dining rooms. "Cover up" cries its front page – referring to allegations that the embattled Home Secretary "tried to cover up the true scale of the threat posed by foreign prisoners wrongly released on to Britain’s streets".
The Conservative Party’s last Home Secretary – Michael Howard – writes that the whole affair has finally proved what many have long suspected… New Labour is good at politics but incompetent at governing:
"Tony Blair was the most brilliant Leader of the Opposition this country has ever seen. His knack for knowing how to get favourable coverage for himself and his party, and hostile publicity for the Government he was opposing, was quite beyond compare. The tragedy for him and the country is that he never made the transition from brilliant Opposition leader to competent Prime Minister. Mr Blair and his ministers have never taken the trouble to understand how government works. Instead of rolling up their sleeves and applying themselves to the often difficult task of bending the bureaucracy to their will, they have set up Delivery Units, Performance Units, Co-ordination Units and a host of other gimmicks that have, for the most part, just created confusion and chaos, and made things worse."
For those interested in an academic examination of the "corrective effects of ministerial resignations" please read this from the LSE.