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The Good Doctor Reid

John Reid’s tenure at the Home Office is already shaping up to be one
of the biggest disasters in the history of this government. Within the
space of weeks, Dr Reid has managed to demoralise his entire department
by declaring it "not fit for purpose", infuriate the Attorney General
by attacking a judge who had delivered a sentence on a child molester
that was actually determined by legislative contstraints, and now
declare an interest in releasing details of the whereabouts of
convicted paedophiles to local communities. The fact that this move has
been described as unworkable and dangerous by police chiefs, and as
counterproductive and likely to actually increase the danger to
children by child protection specialists is water off a duck’s back to
Dr Reid.

Dr Reid is, of course, driven entirely by seeking out headlines rather
than working out policies that will benefit the public. Take his
new-found committment to consider longer sentences for the carrying of
knives. The fact that less than a year ago, Dr Reid voted against a
Tory amendment that would have done just this is a flipflop that Olga
Korbut would have been proud of. But now that the issue is in the
papers, it must be responded to. Before, when it was only kids doing
something dangerous, it didn’t matter.

More worrying yet is that, by all accounts, Dr Reid is Blair’s
favourite minister. Elevated from transport (where he gave the rail
companies a free ride to carry on not investing) to health (where he
sponsored several initiatives that have been quietly dropped by his
successor in order to actually make the NHS work) to the Home Office,
Reid has followed the perfect Blairite pattern. This involves
forgetting about all notions of good governance in favour of responding
to the newspapers, in order to ensure you get relected.

The extent of the doublethink in doing all this is remarkable, and only
makes sense if you consider the business of the Labour Party to be
retaining power, rather than benefiting the country. The Home Office is
suddenly not fit for purpose – a fact that the Labour ministers of the
previous nine years somehow seemed to miss. Knives are a rising
problem, that suddenly appears, out of nowhere – something that a
minister could have found out by talking to teachers (perhaps they were
too busy demoralising and degrading the status of teachers to do that).
Judges deliver sentences in line with Labour-originated legislation,
and are scolded for it.

Six years ago, for the first time in my adult life and after having
been a Labour member in my teens and twenties, I did something
unthinkable: I didn’t turn out and vote Labour. Having been in the
party during the 1980’s, I knew that anyone capable of taming the
sprawling, radical mess (as Blair had done) was likely to have streaks
of ruthlessness and authoritarianism a mile wide. While I trusted such
a person to get the party on the right road, there was no way I could
trust them with governing the country. Blair hasn’t let me down: he has
simply proved that he should never have been given the keys to Number
10.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • http://www.allpointsnorth.co.uk Chris Brennan

    Even more scary we still don’t have an effective opposition. If we did the current govenrnment would be in all shades of shit but we have to rely upon the media that’s frightening.

  • http://aplacetosleep.blogspot.com/ Jane

    You forgot to mention his time at the Ministry of Defence where he said that we shouldn’t condemn soldiers beating seven shades out of iraqi civilian prisoners.

    He’s a right one for saying what he thinks will go down well with the “people”