The trouble with Blunkett

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The Independent Online

Should we describe the Home Secretary as thuggish, he would no doubt take it as a compliment. He has never had much time for liberal broadsheet newspapers or their readers and has built his career on impressing the Prime Minister that he is unsqueamish about indulging the authoritarian press.

Should we describe the Home Secretary as thuggish, he would no doubt take it as a compliment. He has never had much time for liberal broadsheet newspapers or their readers and has built his career on impressing the Prime Minister that he is unsqueamish about indulging the authoritarian press.

We urge David Blunkett to consider whether this is, in fact, the astute politics that he seems to think it is. Most people in this country support tough policies based on the idea of rights and responsibilities; fair policies on immigration and asylum administered with rigour; and reform of the dire inefficiency of Britain's police forces. But is posing as a bruiser the way to achieve these ends? When even the Daily Mail demands a fair trial for Guantanamo detainees, what does the Home Secretary gain by interfering in the dispensation of impartial justice? His publicly expressed determination to "nail" an alleged football hooligan was not his first offence against the basic principles of British law. He casually prejudiced the trial of an alleged terrorist last year by declaring that "we" would not have arrested him if he were not a threat.

How is support for fair immigration laws assisted by saying some schools are "swamped" by the children of asylum-seekers: is that supposed to distract from the fact that his department cannot even issue work permits competently?

And how does it help to reform one of the bastions of public-sector inefficiency to play into the hands of police conservatives by such a confrontational stand-off with David Westwood, the Chief Constable of Humberside? Mr Westwood should clearly accept responsibility for his force's multiple failings and resign, but the Home Secretary has made the necessary radical change in police culture more difficult to achieve.

We have two words for Mr Blunkett; they are "counter" and "productive".

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