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Liam_byrne_mpWhere shall we start today?
How about the plan to grant amnesty for 500,000 illegal immigrants? Or the fact that migrants have been wrongly paid £4 million in tax credits? Liam
Byrne MP has been Immigration Minister for all of 2 weeks now, so he may be due
for another move.  Watch out for claims that the pressure for an amnesty
"proves" that the UK needs ID cards.

Maybe immigration-related issues are a little too dog-whistley for you. 
After all, if an illegal immigrant can land a senior finance position at
Birmingham City Council and steal £1 million pounds, perhaps they can really integrate fully and rapidly into modern British life and culture.

So how about the revelation that 53 criminals sentenced to "life" have been
released on licence after less than 6 years? Does John Reid think the courts system is no longer "fit for purpose"? 
Probably he does, given his recent public remarks that the judge was too soft in
sentencing child abductor Craig Sweeney.  What a shame that the judge was in
fact only following the Home Office’s own rules in the matter.

And the Attorney-General isn’t pleased with Reid at all for skewing the
chances of a successful appeal
by the prosecution against the shortness of the
sentence. Isn’t it good that we now have joined-up government and no longer have to
suffer the shambles that existed under John Major?

Well, there’s always our old favourite: Sir Iain Blair.  He was noticeably
quiet yesterday, leaving it to his deputy Andy Hayman to apologise over the
invasion of Forest Gate
.

Sir_ian_blair_1
Given that Sir Ian has received a public vote of confidence from Tony
Blair, and even from that renowned crime-fighter Ken Livingstone, he was
probably too busy clearing his desk and wondering where to put the carriage
clock.  And despite The Sun’s continuing campaign to fire "soft judges",
it’s likely that of all the people involved in these various fiascos (Reid,
Goldsmith, Byrne, the Metropolitan Police, the judiciary), Sir Iain is the only
one who will go.
 
The press conference given yesterday by the two men involved in the Forest
Gate incident was very damaging, and perhaps the Metropolitan Police’s apology
could have been drafted more, ahem, tactfully.  It was particularly unfortunate
(and statistically impressive) that the Met managed to shoot someone thinking of
becoming a community support officer.  However (the shooting aside) it’s
difficult to see what else the Anti-Terrorism Squad could have done following a
tip off about a chemical weapons factory in a London Borough at the other end of
the Jubilee Line.  It wouldn’t have looked good in front of the Select Committee
after the bomb had gone off if Sir Iain rolled up to say his men were still
filling-in consent forms and planning to drop by for a genteel cup of tea with
the suspects.  Imagine The Sun’s campaign against that.

Yes, the Home Office is a mess (although it’s funny how Michael Howard
seemed to cope with the job of running it).  Yes, the criminal justice justice
system needs reform.  Yes, there needs to be more public involvement in its
operation.  Yes, the judges need to rethink the approach to sentencing.  No, you
don’t need a Sun-style lynch campaign against individual judges, just better
law.  No, you don’t need identity cards to handle immigration problems.  Yes,
Sir Iain Blair should probably go, and go now.

But get used to more Forest Gate-style operations.  Even after 7/7 public
perception of the nature of what is involved in the anti-terror campaign is
lagging behind  the facts (and the mainstream media aren’t exactly helping in
this regard).  Let’s hope it doesn’t take another bomb to educate the public
more fully.

William Norton

13 comments for: Another day, another home office crisis

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