28 April, 2006

Absolute shambles

The notion put forward by Charles Clarke that, despite being responsible for a gross error of ministerial judgement and profound incompetence, he must remain in his job to take responsibility for sorting out the crisis, implies nobody should be sacked from any political post ever. Never mind the qualities that so precipitated or led to such a monumental blunder and bureaucratic disaster, Charles argues; since I'm the one who made the mess, I'm the one who should clear it up.

It's the art of empirical reasoning and rational argument reduced to the level of the primary school artroom: you're the one who spilled paint on the floor, you're the one who should wipe it up. Applied to the arena of high politics, however, it's not merely illogical, it's also hugely patronising, in that it presumes we, the electorate, either can't grasp or aren't fussed about such things as cause and effect and the otherwise apparently trivial matter of culpability.

Surely those qualities which conspired to engender such chaos within the Home Office are the same ones which will conspire to prevent it being rapidly and efficiently resolved - not to say increase, rather than decrease, such a turn of events happening again? And whatever happened to such concepts as honour and dignity, of being aware of your guilt and of the need to show that you are aware of your guilt? Is it now the case that you can get away with any amount of bungling within the Government and stay in your job, simply because you're best placed to undo all the damage you yourself have caused?

The premise upon which Clarke's action is based is a tautology: it concedes incompetence, yet simultaneously refutes it by suggesting the protagonist is competent enough to do something about it having previously failed to do anything about it.

How can any kind of government be practiced upon such absurd a foundation? A kind, you can only conclude, that is desperate. A kind that is obsessed with the pursuit of power for its own sake, of eking out its existence beyond a point that appear to be in anybody's best interest. A kind that has no truck with being seen to keep its own house in order and knowing when it has done wrong.

The elasticity of the British political system can only be stretched so far. I remain convinced that Blair will be gone before the end of the year. This Thursday's coming local elections is our chance to effect such an outcome sooner rather than later.


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