Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Data Day Plus One

Prime Minister's Questions was bound to be a tense affair today. Labour MPs will have been concerned to see how Gordon Brown defended what must seem like the indefensible, while the Tories will have been anticipating more blood on the floor. Over the past few weeks, Cameron has been forcing the big clunking fist all round the ring. He was on form again this afternoon, particularly when Brown rather lamely took refuge in an old statement of Cameron's from the last election, but actually the Tory leader didn't really land a killer punch. Perhaps he didn't need to today. This story has a momentum of its own after all.
Brown, meanwhile, sought refuge in a plethora of reviews that reminded one of nothing so much as Neville Chamberlain offering defence pacts to all and sundry after the Nazis invaded Czechoslovakia. Chamberlain's defence pacts didn't help Europe then; Brown's reviews may be too late to stem the 'systemic failure' that many are identifying in the government's whole approach to data collection.

George Osborne has lost no time in claiming the death of the ID card scheme, which he was doing loud and clear on the morning news programmes. Meanwhile, although attention on the actual details of the incident has been muted, the question is now being asked (for example by blogger Iain Dale) whether an official with access to all the child benefit details can really have been so junior?

5 comments:

i spy strangers said...

The government is in a Catch-22 situation here. If the responsibility was at a senior level within HMRC, then that brings it so much closer to ministers. On the other hand, if access was granted to a lowly minion, we can legitimately ask why someone so junior had access to this material.

At PMQs, Brown made some play of the fact that the discs had not been handled in accordance with their protective marking (aka "classification"). It would be interesting to know what protective marking (if any) was applied to this material.

Richard Weatherill (aka "i spy strangers") said...

BTW (since I can't find an e-mail address for you), I was reassured by your comment on CH that "not all politics teachers are card-carrying lefties".

My son's politics teacher (an American) keep his own views fairly close to his chest, I'm glad to say. From what little I get to hear, I suspect he's about as inconsistent as the rest of us!

GM said...

What was it Churchill said? - 'consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds'!! I think I'll stay with that!

future tory PM said...

I, like many sane minded people am glad to see that ID cards are becoming more and more unlikely as the government bumbles along incompetently from one mistake to another. ALhough I must admit ID cards for sixth formers sounds like an interestin proposition...

medibot said...

You'll be delighted to know one of yer ex-students was bumbling around Parliament today.

Quite what the House of Lords wanted Mr Kyriakides from the Visiting Arts Council i don't know but still.

Interesting titbit.