Thursday, 22 November 2007

More on the Data disks

I turn to the The Guardian again today (my comments in italics) -

"The Tories have demanded that Gordon Brown reveal the "whole truth" about the loss of the personal information of 25 million people after it emerged that senior Revenue & Customs officials authorised sending the sensitive data to the National Audit Office. Alistair Darling has blamed the loss of two CDs relating to child benefit claimants on a "junior official" who acted alone in breaching procedures.

Brown backed his chancellor's version of events during prime minister's questions yesterday."

He would, he is organ-grinder for Darling's monkey.

"But Sir John Bourn, the outgoing comptroller and auditor general, told a secret session of the public accounts committee yesterday that a senior business manager at Revenue & Customs had authorised the information to be released in its full form.
His email approving the sharing of the data was copied to an assistant director."

I would love to see that email, come on publish it.

"These startling revelations from the NAO call into question the entire defence mounted by the prime minister of this catastrophic failure in his government," said the shadow chancellor, George Osborne.

"This was systemic failure, not individual error by a junior official.

"Gordon Brown needs to tell us the whole truth of why the security of all families in the country has been put at risk."

Gordon Brown tell the truth, it's a long-shot.

"Bourn's submissions to the public accounts committee were revealed by the committee chair, Tory MP Edward Leigh."

Edward Leigh has a fine forensic mind, his stewardship of the Public Accounts Committee has been masterly.

"The NAO said yesterday that it specifically stated that it did not need all the information being offered by Revenue & Customs.

It asked for all child benefit numbers, national insurance numbers and but did not want bank accounts and addresses and dates of birth."

Why woudl they want those details and why indeed would they want extra data cluttering up their database?

"According to Bourn, Revenue & Customs told the NAO that removing the extra information would be too costly."

Too costly, too costly! So they just sent the whole file, brilliant. This is so incompetent that I could scream.

"Revenue & Customs yesterday denied it was at odds with the NAO over its version of events and the government is expected to release documents relating to the exchange today."

They also claimed that "black" was "white" and will be calling Michael Jackson as a witness.

"As the Tories stepped up pressure over the "catastrophic failure", concerns were also raised from within Labour's own ranks.

John McFall, a senior backbencher and chairman of the House of Commons Treasury committee, said that the government's "competence" had been called into question."

Competence and this government will soon be as closely linked in the public's mind as Heather Mills McCartney and black pudding eating.

""I think there is a serious issue here in terms of confidence in the government, and that has to be restored," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"The core issue is competence. I think there is a challenge here now for Gordon Brown in terms of leadership."

The first time I read that, I thought he was calling for a challenge to Gordon Brown's leadership, that will come soon enough...

"He has been good in crises since he took over. This is a crisis. Can he fix this department?"

Gordon Brown hasn't been good in a crisis, he has presided over many crises since becoming PM and most have been due to his and his predecessor's abject failures whilst in power - that's power and not control.

"Can he ensure it is fit for purpose? Can he ensure people have confidence in it?"

Too late, the answer to both of these questions is a resounding NO.

"He added: "Is there a fatal flaw in government? I don't think there is, but is it time for iron to get into the body politic? It is, and that is for Gordon Brown to do.""

In a few months time there will be a long list of people ready to put the iron, the steel, the wood and any other sharp object that comes to hand into the body politic, or more exactly the rather flabby body of Gordon Brown.

I have been accused recently of ranting in this blog and I think that might be fair. However, if I am ranting it is only because this government have gone from being a joke to being a serious danger to us all and I believe this needs pointing out.

As Mr Eugenides points out so astutely today -
"It's a well-worn rule of thumb in these situations that it's not the original crime or blunder that causes ministerial heads to roll, but the subsequent cover-up. For too many ministers in this government, lying seems to be the default position; they wear their mendacity like second skins. It's therefore unsurprising that cover-ups have claimed so many ministerial scalps over the last decade; they can't help themselves."

He is right it is the cover-up that tends to bring down the miscreant and in this case it should be both Gordon and his Darling. However I fear that Darling will be the sacrificial lamb, leaving Gordon to limp on for a while yet.

At some point the decision will be made that Gordon is a liability and that a replacement must be found to carry the BBC/NuLab government forward. At this point you will notice one minister getting a "bigging up" slightly too often by the BBC, he will be the chosen one and he will succeed Gordon Brown. I am sorry, you thought we lived in a democracy; you poor deluded fools...

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