Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Jacqui Smith's Woes

This government is in a rather extraordinary position at the moment. By any measure, a nation's external and internal defence forces (the armed forces and the police) are a crucial part of the state system. Most governments expend considerable effort to keep them onside. Unusually, Gordon Brown's government seems to be going in the opposite direction.

Defence Secretary Des Browne has long been mocked as a part-timer (he is also Secretary of State for Scotland) who is unable to defend the armed forces against cuts that lead to the issuing of inadequate supplies and materiel. Gordon Brown himself was the target of a no holds barred attack by some five former Defence Chiefs for his apparent antagonism towards the forces during his time as Chancellor (although he's happy enough tp use them for a photo-shoot in Afghanistan and Iraq every so often).

Now, on the home front, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has unprecedentedly been the subject of an overwhelming vote of no confidence by the Police Federation. They want her to go, and while she's in this tenuous position she is also having to defend the increasingly indefensible government demand for an increase on the already draconian 28 days detention policy. While she is focused on these key macro areas, the police continue to be buried under bureaucracy, and the murders of teenagers in London continues apace.

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