Leading article: An indispensable lord

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The Independent Online

You can say what you like about Lord Falconer, the Lord Chancellor, and we frequently do. It was not until last autumn, for instance, on the opposite side of the globe, that he finally condemned Guantanamo as a "shocking affront to the principles of democracy". What took him, we asked, so long. Stamina, however, is one quality the noble lord has in spades. Yesterday, after a lengthy interview on the BBC Today programme, he went on at once to BBC Breakfast, and from there to Radio Five Live - and all in defence of the Government's indefensible record on prisons and John Reid's little "reminder" to judges.

Margaret Thatcher once said that every Prime Minister "needs a Willie" (a tribute to her deputy prime minister, William Whitelaw). Perhaps that should be updated to "every Home Secretary needs a Charlie". Without his broadcasting marathon, Mr Reid's position would look even more shaky than it does.