Tag Archives: jacqui smith

The Home Secretary: an unacceptable risk?

I can’t help but feel that this statement reveals all too much about the mental state of our beloved Home Secretary:

Speaking during Home Office questions in the House of Commons, Ms Smith said: “I’ve spoken to him this morning about his comments. I’ve told him that I was surprised and profoundly disappointed by the article reported.”

She added: “I’m sure most people would simply not accept the link that he makes up in his article between horse riding and illegal drug taking.

“For me that makes light of a serious problem, trivialises the dangers of drugs, shows insensitivity to the families of victims of ecstasy and sends the wrong message to young people about the dangers of drugs.”

Ms Smith also said: “I made clear to Professor Nutt that I felt his comments went beyond the scientific advice that I expect of him as the chair of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs.

“He apologised to me for his comments and I’ve asked him to apologise to the families of the victims of ecstasy.”

No-one is questioning the validity of Professor Nutt’s statistics; indeed they are a matter of public record. However, simply mentioning them in the same paragraph is enough to get an “independent” advisor publicly excoriated. Talk about inconvenient truths.

If nothing else sums up madness raging within the Home Office and other government departments then this does the job. Faced with the choice between a hard headed risk assessment and an unquantifiable dread, Jacqui Smith goes for the fear and loathing every time. It reminded me of her petulant whinging at the end of the 42 days debate (which she lost). At least with our war on terror (which of course officially isn’t a war any more), they can hide behind that amorphous thing called “national security”. With the war on drugs (still officially a war as far as I know), she has no such safeguard.

Yet the fact is that you are more likely to die of ecstacy, however low those odds may be, than be killed by a terrorist. Think of all the billions of pounds, all those liberties compromised, all that unneccessary fear aroused, for something that remains an extremely low risk. A something that is intended to spread fear and dread and thus fulfils its objective if governments react in this way.

People die on the roads, fall off horses and die of preventable diseases every day. Smith accuses Prof Nutt of “trivialising” the deaths of ecstacy users, but since when were those deaths more significant than all the others? Ignoring the real risks of drug use (and terrorism) is to fetishise it. If anyone is in the business of trivialising deaths, it is Smith.

Jacqui Smith: It’s not my fault, it’s my contractors that are rubbish (whinge, whinge…)

Jacqui Smith’s startling insight into how the details of 84,000 prisoners managed to wind up on a memory stick which promptly went missing:

“This was data that was being held in a secure form, but was downloaded onto a memory stick by an external contractor,” she said.

“It runs against the rules set down both for the holding of government data and set down by the external contractor and certainly set down in the contract that we had with the external contractor.”

Well, duh.

more animals

You’ve got to marvel at how these bozos get out of the house in the morning. Based on this statement I can only assume that Jacqui Smith doesn’t actually walk around with her door keys on her, but instead keeps them under a potted plant by the door. To avoid being burgled she has figured out the genius ruse of writing personally to her neighbours and insisting that they don’t break in without her permission.

The point, Smith, is that if it is possible for a private contractor to leave the office with sensitive data on a flashdrive, your system isn’t fucking secure. Almost a year after the Customs and Excise debacle and you still haven’t figured that one out. And now you want to put the exact same fuckwits in charge of a national identity database??!?!?!?

Give. Me. Strength.

Is “42 days” a ruse for something else?

Say what you like about the Labour government, they are experts at the art of splitting the difference. Even when they lose, by and large they win. For example, the existing rules on allowing terrorist suspects to be locked up for 28 days without charge was a “compromise” eked out of the last time they tried getting their 90 days proposal through.

It looks as if the Labour backbenchers are in no mood to fall for that one again and enough of them will join the Lib Dems and Tories to block the 42 days proposal. But is that the whole story? I was not, for example, previously aware that the counter-terrorism bill included scope for Home Secretaries to ban coroner juries with a stroke of a pen in the interests of “national security“. It sounds like a dreadful idea, but in the kerfuffle over 42 days, how much attention will be paid to it? And for that matter, how many other clauses in this bill are we likely to be concerned about?

Could it be that Jacqui Smith is prepared to lose “42 days” so long as the debate surrounding it succeeds in obscuring all the other bad laws she intends to get through the backdoor? Scrutiny in the Lords can only block so much.