Charles Clarke - Shifting Responsibility
Charles Clarke has been touring the TV studios tonight to explain why he isn't going to resign.
It appears to boil down to the fact that that although he accepts overall responsibility, that is outranked by his responsibility to put things right.
[It's Labour's interpretation of the concept of Ministerial Responsibility...]
The other mantra has been that is is a systemic failure. Not a personal failure on the safety elephants part. Have you got that? It's a systemic failure, and the workers that screwed up will take full responsibility [a line that he had avoided before tonights round of interviews] - presumably without the chance to stick around and put things right.
And finally, we should all understand it is a Historic failure. Charlie's Ministers were on the case even before the PAC committee where asking their awkward questions.
From a pre recorded interview for Newsnight:
Paxman - Are you saying no one was released after you had that meting with the PAC?
Clarke - I'm not prepared to say no one, but certainly very very few people. The bulk of the people we are talking about are from the period earlier than the last 9 or 10 months.
And it is the final point where the Safety Elephant has stumbled.
On the 10 pm bulletin tonight Nick Robinson was rather breathlesly reeling off the latest figures just released by the Home Office:
Since last summer [August] after the NAO raised the problem, after we heard from that backbench Tory MP raising worries ina parliamentary committee, still people were being released from prison without being deported when the could have been.
The figures just released; 288 since last August and leading up to this March.
Both of these cannot be true. Either Nick Robinson has lost the plot, or Charles Clarke was lying through his hind teeth when he told Newsnight that "not no one, but certainly very very few people" had been released but not deported over the last 9 or 10 months, sice Charlie became aware of the problem.
So lets be clear about this, assuming Nick Robinson is correct, the Home Office's attempts to deal with the problem, have made it worse.
Very roughly, 288 cases identified since August last year after the Charles Clarke became aware of the systemic problem, is an average of 36 cases a month, or just over one every day if you prefer.
The remaining 735 of the total averaged over the 77 months from Feb 99 to August last year, is approx 9.5 cases a month, just over a couple a week if you prefer.
[assuming the 288 are part of, not on top of the 1023]
This very approx calculation done on my fingers and toes, would suggest that this is very much Charles Clarke's problem, and was at it's peak on his watch, whilst he was aware of it and claimed to be dealing with it.