THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
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Jacqui Smith at bay

Cur Her Indian counterpart resigned because his ministry was responsible for the forces responding to the Mumbai terrorist incident and there were criticisms about the speed of that response. No-one suggests that he was personally responsible for the errors. No-one suggests that he was consulted in advance about operational matters. However, he honourably accepted that he was politically responsible. Jacqui Smith's approach to her job is somewhat different.

Smith has political responsibility for a police force, which on the face of it has behaved disgracefully toward Damien Green MP and his family. In a wooden, coached performance during which her blink-rate was sufficient to fan Andrew Marr's wispy hair, she refused to apologise for Green's treatment. Holding herself rigidly (I suspect to suppress body language tell-tales of lying), she blanked Marr in classic New Labour style by repeating prepared phrases.

Worse, she slurred Damien Greeen by suggesting there were other leaks that were not "in the public domain" (thus confirming, in effect, that the leaks we know about could not justify the action taken). Pressed by Marr, she refused to say anything about other leaks - leaving Green's name blackened with no opportunity to defend himself. Asked if she had authorised wiretaps on her political opponent, she refused - understandably - to confirm or deny, but her eyes told the truth.

I do not believe for a second that the police acted independently in this case. Nor do I believe for a second that senior civil servants initiated the investigations without political direction. Why would a senior civil servant at the peak of his career take risks for political masters who would cast him aside without a thought if it suited them? Labour's paw-prints are all over this story.

Smith's performane was stilted and ultimately unconvincing. So many New Labour mediocrities seem not to understand the concept of civil liberties. It seems to me that she understands, but does not care. She is of the political "righteous" for whom the end always justifies the means. How long, I wonder, before the political master to whom she is such a fawning cur casts her to the wolves?