Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Charles Clarke's Career Hangs in the Balance


I've spent much of this evening trying to work out what Charles Clarke's strategy is. His interviews have been decidely lacking in confidence, and while he fully admits he has to take responsibility he shows little sign of 'doing the decent thing'. Slightly to my surprise, David Davis has resisted in going for the jugular. I suspect he thinks
that given enough rope Clarke will hang himself, and for him to call for his resignation would make the Conservatives look opportunistic and nasty. That's certainly been his strategy over Beverley Hughes and David Blunkett. Let us also spare a thought here for South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon without whom this scandal would never have come to light. He has proven himself to be a superb questioner of government departments, particularly in his role of the Public Accounts Committee. He was also a lone voice on the Tory benches who spoke out against Party policy on the war in Iraq. So while one Norfolk MP's career hangs in the balance, another's looks rather brighter this evening. Hat-tip for graphic to Beau Bo d'Or

UPDATE: 10.50pm I've seen Charles Clarke's Newsnight interview with Paxo. He looked as if he knew the game would soon be up. I speculated to my partner that he might be gone by this time tomorrow. "But doesn't he have the Prime Minister's full backing?" came the rather ironic reply.

UPDATE: 11.20pm It occurs to me that members of Her Majesty's Press will be spending the next 24 hours or so searching for a serious crime committed by one of the 1,000 people let loose by the Prison Directorate when they should have been deported. If they find evidence of a rape or murder, Clarke will face even greater pressure. Judging from his performance on Newsnight I doubt he'd hang around. But I may be wrong! I should make clear that I like Charles Clarke. He's one of the few Labour Ministers I have time for and in some ways I'd be sorry to see him go. But personal feelings must be outweighed by doing the right thing. And I'm quite clear what that is.

21 comments:

Hayek's Grandad said...

Perhaps DD is too busy chasing the BNP vote to bother with such trivial matters as murderers and rapists let loose in the UK? Seriously though I can't believe he as said nothing yet?!?

ian said...

Richard Bacon? Didn't he get fired from Blue Peter?

I have, if anyone's interested, blogged about the statistics of reoffending rates, and these 1,000 convicts - It's inconceivable that none of them have yet reoffended.

Ed R said...

I don't really see what he's fretting about. Blair has hardly been coy about giving second (and third...) chances to disgraced ministers even when he doesn't need all the allies he can get. If Clarke goes out swiftly and with dignity now, I expect he'll probably be parachuted back into a top post in the summer, while nobody's really looking.

Iain Dale said...

Hayek, he has - but hasn't called for Clarke's head.

Antony said...

I strongly believe that - for the sake of ministerial responsibility alone - Mr Clarke should resign.

As has been pointed out, with good behaviour on the backbenches he should be back within 12 months.

I agree with Iain that the Tories haven't rushed this in order to look more considered. The rantings of both Nick Clegg and Sir Ming were rather bizarre tonight. Davis looked very credible on this issue.

Clarke may well be gone by the morning.

Anonymous said...

watch out for cameron to fluff this by not raising it at PMQs tomorrow.

It won't only be Clarke that the press go for

The Morningstar said...

I don't think there is a strategy on this one, I think he's made an honest call about what has happened, and yes that is a startling view for a member of Blairs cabinet...

Will said...

I predict a David Blunket come back. You heard it hear first !
:-)

Serf said...

He was also a loan voice on the Tory benches

I assume you made a mistake here and he is not implicated in recent scandals.

esbonio said...

You like him? Why?

Greg said...

Davis probably reckons he has a chance to be Home Secretary in a few years time, and isn't overly keen to dig his own grave.

Ellee Seymour said...

What else don't we know about? It's such an obvious question to ask through the Freedom of Information Act. Well done RB for being doggedly persistent.

Theo Spark said...

Fatty Two Shags has provided the usual distraction!!

BlueistheColour said...

I agree with Antony for the sake of ministerial responsibility alone - Clarke should resign.

But under Blair the lack of any ministerial responsibility is truly staggering. The days of honourable resignations have I am afraid long gone – if you back to, was it, the Crickel Down affair and Falklands.

I suppose if Clarke does not go – the question should be how far a Minister can continue without resigning. New Labour has taken this to NEW limits . . .

Cynically speaking the story today on Two Jags affair and even Mark Oaten’s wife exclusive in Hello manage to take the focus off this story until investigation finds some serial criminal re-offending.

It would not surprise me that the Two Jags Mirror story was used to take the damage away. If you think the picture of PM in tracksuit today trying to bury the NHS Health Scandal from Monday’s press

If a betting man – my bet would be that Clarke will be “parachuted back into a top post” within the year.

Man in a shed said...

Oddly enough I suspect this may be good for Blair. He needs damaged ministers around him who's carreers will only last as long as he is in office. Rather than capable ministers looking for the main chance in the future.

Its Brown rather than DD who needs Charles Clarke to walk ....

alfie said...

Did you see his bolshy apprentice 'Tetchy Tony Nutter McNulty on the box last night. It was clear he was looking for a scapegoat - any scapegoat would do as long as it wasn't him - or his boss the Pilsbury Doughboy. I really do not like Nutter, he is such a bombastic git.

Regarding Clarke, I always get the impression that he is 'put upon' - rather like Ruth Kelly he is a Blair mouthpiece. He just does what he is told to by Blair and the sofa cabinet.

What most disheartened me last night was when the Doughboy and Tetchy both proclaimed how they were going to stay and 'sort the mess out'........ Good bloody grief.

And I must say, the Doughboy looked a little more dishevelled than normal last night. I don't know which charity shop he is getting his suites from - but he needs to be a bit more picky on the ones he chooses. One thing's for sure - Andrew Neill's Daily Politics programme and PMQs this lunchtime is going to be an absolute must view show. I wonder which NuLabour patsy will be wheeeled out to cross swords with the great Scot with the great rug?

Finally, I wonder what Margaret Hodge's white working class voters are thinking about this latest failure of a Government Department to implement the simplest of tasks, the most routine of jobs? Are they more likely to vote for the BNP?

Antony Calvert said...

I think Theo has hit the nail on the head, albeit rather inadvertantly.

It does seem a remarkable co-incidence that an extremely serious political story about rapists and murderers being let out and not deported is being clouded by harmless sex scandals.

This distraction has all the hallmarks of Campbell

The Remittance Man said...

Despite the may calls for charlie's resignation on the grounds of ministerial responsibility, it ain't going to happen. This crowd haven't a shred of decency or honour so waiting for the resignation announcement is likely to be pretty fruitless.

There is another approach that could be taken though:

ZanuLabour brought in the "crime" of corporate manslaughter with much fanfare. A classic peice of class warrior behaviour I'll admit, but it is on the statute books. Surely, if the CEO and directors of companies can be prosecuted for the failings of their companies/employees under this law, then so can ministers of the crown.

All we have to do is find that some poor victim has been murdered by one of the beneficiaries of Home Office incompetence and, bingo, decent grounds for hoisting an incompetent minister on his own petard.

Anyone closer to London care to tip off the Met? SOCA?

RM

Pulsar said...

PMQ's
Flip Osbourne looking pale and drawn
Glacier man-wishy washy-missed open goal!
DD-Superb!(Definition of what men can and boys can't do)
Still think Clarke is good until May 5th

Edward said...

He's only there because Blair wouldn't let him go...yet...he knows he should go and his behaviour is indefensible but he's there for his mate.

jafo said...

"To do the honourable thing and resign" presupposes one has some honour in the first place. Can you think of a Labour Minister that would apply to?