All at sea with the feel-safe factor

Whether or not Michael Howard ever gets the power to place bugs on unwitting people, we now know that unauthorised bugging of suspicious people already takes place.

I can actually give you an example.

For the past few weeks a bugging device has been placed experimentally in Michael Howard's office at the Home Office. Nobody knew it was there except, of course, my mole who put it there in the first place.

Judge for yourself whether it was a worthwhile experiment from these extracts from conversations on the tape, chosen carefully at random by me.

TAPE EXTRACT ONE

Mole: Testing, testing, testing. One two three.... Prison works! Put everyone behind bars! Hang the cost! And hang everyone else as well! Right, let's see if that's working ...

Playback: Prison works! Put everyone behind bars! Hang the cost ! ....

Mole: Perfect.

TAPE EXTRACT TWO

1st Aide: What's this meeting going to be all about?

2nd Aide: Search me. He can't be announcing more prisons, can he? There's nowhere left to put them.

1st Aide: Oh, come on - Howard can always think of somewhere else to put more prisoners. On floating hulks, in old holiday camps ....

2nd Aide: Underground at road-building protests ....

1st Aide: What is this mania he has to put everyone behind bars? Hold on - here he comes ....

Howard: Right, gentlemen, without further ado let's get down to business. And we only have one piece of business in front of us. Winning the election!

1st Aide: With the best will in the world, sir, it is no part of a civil servant's brief to help win an election.

Howard: To win the election we have to make people feel they're safe with us. I call it the feel-safe factor! And to do this we have to put various feel-safe factors into operation, such as cracking down on illegal immigrants and keeping Myra Hindley in jail for ever.

2nd Aide: Isn't there a danger that this may turn people in her favour, sir? Do people really think that if she is let out now, she is going to roam the countryside killing people? I mean, not even OJ Simpson has reoffended ....

Howard: Are you disagreeing with me ?

2nd Aide: No, sir. Merely pointing out ....

Howard: And another thing. If we can pin-point a public enemy for people to hate, that will also bring people on our side. I want you to find out who, in the last year, has committed the most offences in British courts. And name him publicly.

1st Aide: But ....

Howard: Do it, you recalcitrant bastards!

Sound of slamming door.

1st Aide: Well, I don't know about you, but I thought he was in an unusually good mood today.

TAPE EXTRACT THREE

Only the two aides are present. 1st Aide: Well, the Myra Hindley announcement hasn't materially altered the opinion polls.

2nd Aide: John ....

1st Aide: Yes ?

2nd Aide: Has it ever occurred to you that Myra Hindley and Michael Howard have the same initials?

1st Aide: No. But why should that ...?

2nd Aide: Well, the Home Secretary seems to have a bit of an obsession with her. I just wondered if in some strange way he identified with her, in a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde sort of way. The dark side of the moon ... the evil side of his own character ... In their own ways, Hindley and Howard have tried to put away as many people as possible ....

1st Aide: Are you going round the bend ?

2nd Aide: Maybe. Sometimes I think I've been here too long ....

TAPE EXTRACT FOUR

Howard: Well, any progress on the naming of the worst offender of the year ?

1st Aide: Yes, sir. We ran a search on the name singly most criticised by the courts and ... well, bad luck, sir. It's you, sir.

Howard: ME ?

2nd Aide: Yes, sir. Apparently you have been more ruled out of order and in contempt of the law than anyone else this past year.

1st Aide: Shall we put out a press release to that effect?

Howard: No, no ... Just make the announcement that I am buying lots of floating prisons.

1st Aide: Yes, sir. Incidentally, why are we doing this ?

Howard: Because I want to win the next election and I don't want prisoners voting against us.

2nd Aide: But, sir, prisoners don't have the vote anyway.

Howard: I'm taking no chances! I'm putting all the likely Labour voters in off-shore prisons so that they lose their residential right to vote in Britain as well! Now, move!

Slamming of door.

1st Aide: Well. What do you say to that ?

2nd Aide: Roll on the election, I say.

More tape extracts soon, unless an injunction descends on my mole.

Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv'The Last Kingdom' embraces politics, religion, warfare, courage, love and loyalty, say creators
Sport
Sergio Romero saves Wesley Sneijder's penalty
world cup 2014But after defeating the Dutch, Lionel Messi and Argentina will walk out at the Maracana on Sunday as underdogs against Germany
Sport
Scoreboard at the end of the semi-final World Cup match between Brazil and Germany at The Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte
Sport
'Saddest man in Brazil' takes defeat with good grace, handing replica trophy to German fans
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
peopleThe Game of Thrones author said speculation about his health and death was 'offensive'
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman and Lauren O'Neil in Jamie Lloyd's Richard III
theatreReview: The monarch's malign magnetism and diabolic effrontery aren’t felt
News
Glamour magazine hosts a yoga class with Yogalosophy author Mandy Ingber on June 10, 2013 in New York City.
newsFather Padraig O'Baoill said the exercise was 'unsavoury' in a weekly parish newsletter
Extras
indybest
News
people'She is unstoppable', says Jean Paul Gaultier at Paris show
Sport
Alexis Sanchez and apparently his barber Carlos Moles in Barcelona today
football
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has her magic LSD brain stolen in this crazy video produced with The Flaming Lips
video
Arts and Entertainment
In his own words: Oscar Wilde in 1882
theatreNew play by the Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials - and what they reveal about the man
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unless films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, pictured, can buck the trend, this summer could be the first in 13 years that not a single Hollywood blockbuster takes $300m
filmWith US films earning record-breaking amounts at the Chinese box office, Hollywood is more than happy to take its lead from its new-found Asian audience
News
The garage was up for sale in Canning Place Mews for £500,000
newsGarage for sale for £500,000
Life and Style
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Mobile App/IOS Developer (C#, ASP.NET, .NET, MVC)

£50000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Mobile App/IOS...

Front End Developer-JavaScript, Angular J.S, HTML, CSS, ASP.NET

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front End Deve...

Associate CXL Consultant

£40000 - £60000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: CXL, Triple Po...

Associate CXL Consultant

£40000 - £60000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: CXL, Triple Po...

Day In a Page

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil