Luckily for Barbara Roche, formerly of the Home Office,
Easter reminds us that heaven loves the repenting sinner best

Plus: How about sending Balls to Transport?


On no day more keenly than yesterday do we celebrate the message of redemption. And so to Barbara Roche, the former Labour immigration minister, we offer a sincere and rousing hats off. Ms Roche’s Home Office stint, either side of the turn of the millennium, provided a classically incisive vignette of how power corrupts the most deeply held beliefs.

She had railed in opposition against the use of private security firms to deport illegal immigrants after the death, in 1993, of Joy Gardner. Six years later, as the relevant minister, she not only found herself defending the use of such firms, she also announced that asylum seekers would be moved from Kent without any choice of whither they would be relocated; introduced a pilot scheme obliging visitors from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh to pay a £5,000 bond to guarantee they would not outstay their welcome; and told The Guardian that there were “very many” asylum seekers trying to “string out  the process”.

Remembering all that, and while acknowledging the pain of the well-meaning minister compelled to defend policy they find repellent, it is a bit cheeky of her to attack Ed Miliband, in The Independent on Sunday, for lacking the courage to take on Ukip directly on immigration. She was not desperately brave herself in countering right-wing propaganda when at the Home Office. Yet we forgive her the amnesia, and honour the noble work she currently does heading a charity, Migration Matters Trust, devoted to doing just that. Heaven, we piously remember this bank holiday weekend, loveth nothing more than the sinner that repenteth.

It’s all so different in Florida. There’s no internet

News of an agricultural development vexes Richard Littlejohn, who offers Daily Mail readers his trenchant take on British life from behind the electric gates of his Florida mansion.

“Scientists are proposing to put cows on a diet to reduce the amount of saturated fat in dairy produce,” writes Richard. “What do they have in mind? Lean cuisine? Cows eat grass – and it doesn’t get more low fat than that.”

Floridean wi-fi must be very patchy indeed. With internet access, he would have read that tripling the proportion of maize silage in the diet was found, in a trial, to reduce methane emissions.

Happily, Richard is making a state visit next month to plug Littlejohn’s Lost World, in which magnum opus he dwells on “growing up in the Fifties and Sixties and how life has changed since. It’s a story of sweet shops, school dentists, Saturday morning pictures and innocent childhood freedom which has gone for ever.”

Don’t all pre-order at once. The internet here is reliable, by and large, and we do not want you crashing Amazon in the stampede.

Please stay, Gordon.  The banks still need you

The Harry H Corbett to whom Wee Dougie Alexander once played Sweep, Gordon Brown is credibly rumoured to be leaving parliament at the next election.

If so, the loss of so constant and vocal a post-2010 backbench presence will leave a colossal parliamentary gap. Filling the void in Gordon’s working life remains a difficult business. Speaking of difficult businesses, you wonder whether the man who saved the world from a global banking collapse might be the one to take on the challenge of rebuilding that once mighty testament to socialism in action, the  Co-operative Bank.

Don’t cry, grandad. Oh, I see, you’re not

Thanks to The Sun for an object lesson in headline distortion. The paper has been obsessing about the 12-year-old who had a baby. Tragically unable to name and shame the girl, its consolation prize was an interview with her sire, who finds himself a grandfather – and at his time of life, whose thoughts don’t fondly turn to jiggling a grandkid on the knee when watching Countdown – a year shy of turning 30.

“Tears of a grandad, 29”, was the headline, while the intro read: “The heartbroken dad of Britain’s youngest mum told yesterday how he wept when he learned he was going to be a grandad at 29.”

Inside, his recollection seemed rather different. “I didn’t say too much,” recalls dear old gramps. “I sort of cried, I suppose, as any dad would.” Can you sense the pre-emptive exchange that led to that?

“You must have cried when she told you?”

“Well, no, not really.”

“Come on, you must have done.”

“Erm, no.”

“Now look, we’re seeing you right for this, aren’t we?” “Yeah, well, OK, I sort of cried, I suppose…”

How about sending Balls to transport?

Also redeemed, and in one miraculous stroke, is Douglas Alexander, who until a few days ago was prey to the whispering campaign typified by the overhearing of colleagues Harriet Harman and Ed Balls bitching about his inadequacies as Labour election supremo. Today, Wee Dougie is raised alongside Keir Hardie and Nye Bevan on the top plinth of the pantheon by his coup in securing David Axelrod’s services. Although overjoyed by Dougie’s resurrection, Mr Balls has yet to be overheard celebrating this.

Now this may be outside the Axe’s sphere of influence, but if he wants to make a statement of his intent to steer Labour to power, he should propose this solution to Ed Miliband’s most grievous problem. In the light of the latest Balls vehicular fiasco, the leader should stand him down from front bench duty, for his own safety, until he has passed the Institute of Advanced Motorists’ test. This should take him well over a year, freeing the shadow chancellorship for someone the voters might trust with the economy (subtle code for Alistair Darling), and Balls may then return in triumph to join the cabinet in the fitting post of Transport Secretary.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Call Centre Manager - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This innovative online car purc...

Recruitment Genius: Subscriptions and Marketing Assistant

£12500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A subscriptions and marketing a...

Metail Ltd: Business Development Manager for Asia Pacific

£35,000 - £40,000 based on experience : Metail Ltd: As a Business Development ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Supervisor

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a well establis...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A memorial dedicated to the 52 people that were killed during the 7/7 terror attacks in London is cleaned in London's Hyde Park  

7/7 bombings: We cannot opt out of this fight, hoping that if we hide terrorism will leave us alone

Liz Kendall

There are no heroes in the Greek crisis that ended the euro

Steve Richards
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate