Trouble at the Home Office

This week John Reid struggles with prison overcrowding and the debate on adoption by gay couples con

It was never going to be a quiet week for the Home Secretary, John Reid, after his announcement that the Home Office may have to be split into two separate departments. Three days later Mr Reid issued a plea to Britain’s legal chiefs to jail only the most serious offenders as Ellee Seymour detailed.

With news of a Judge in Wales giving only a suspended sentence to a man who downloaded child pornography to his computer, people are questioning just where the line can be drawn with the most dangerous and persistent criminals under Mr Reid’s new recommendations. Mr Eugenides says this is a case of the “government's monumental, almost unbelievable, incompetence.” Prisons are crowded – true. But too crowded for such a criminal? Answers on a postcard please (the comments link below will do).

Bloggers will never again be thought of in the same way after one was paid by Microsoft this week to “correct” their entry on Wikipedia, according to Dizzy. Microsoft said it had approached Rick Jelliffe and agreed to pay him but they had never paid anyone before to do this.

Credit also has to be given to Guido for publishing a story from David Cameron’s website two days before most of the Sunday papers caught up with it. Mr Cameron gave an unequivocal “no” to a general legalisation of cannabis but left the way open for it to be legalised for medical purposes.

Certainly little credit can go to Harriet Harman’s blog as she doesn’t seem to understand the need for regular posting. Two posts in a week just isn’t up to the job.

Regular as usual was Iain Dale who is drawing many similarities between Labour’s current cash for honours scandal and Nixon’s Watergate scandal. This comes as it is alleged that Labour officials have secretly deleted emails from a hidden computer system in an effort to try and destroy evidence. No doubt this will continue to rustle the feathers of many-a-blogger in the coming week.

And I leave you with some of the best blogs on the debate over gay couples and adoption. The Catholic church have been very explicit this week where they stand on this drawing in criticism from across the board. The Istanbul Tory said: “In truth, the Cabinet is hopelessly split over the issue of new equality laws.” And at Love and Liberty there was no beating around the bush. Alex Wilcock said: “after centuries of taking pot-shots at each other (often literally), the Catholic Church and the Church of England have found common ground: persecuting gay people and children.”

Adam Haigh studies on the postgraduate journalism diploma at Cardiff University. Last year he lived in Honduras and worked freelance for the newspaper, Honduras This Week.
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Beware, hard Brexiteers - Ruth Davidson is coming for you

The Scottish Conservative leader is well-positioned to fight. 

Wanted: Charismatic leader with working-class roots and a populist touch who can take on the Brexiteers, including some in the government, and do so convincingly.

Enter Ruth Davidson. 

While many Tory MPs quietly share her opposition to a hard Brexit, those who dare to be loud tend to be backbenchers like Anna Soubry and Nicky Morgan. 

By contrast, the Scottish Conservative leader already has huge credibility for rebuilding her party north of the border. Her appearances in the last days of the EU referendum campaign made her a star in the south as well. And she has no qualms about making a joke at Boris Johnson’s expense

Speaking at the Institute of Directors on Monday, Davidson said Brexiteers like Nigel Farage should stop “needling” European leaders.

“I say to the Ukip politicians, when they chuckle and bray about the result in June, grow up,” she declared. “Let us show a bit more respect for these European neighbours and allies.”

Davidson is particularly concerned that Brexiteers underestimate the deeply emotional and political response of other EU nations. 

The negotiations will be 27 to 1, she pointed out: “I would suggest that macho, beer swilling, posturing at the golf club bar isn’t going to get us anywhere.”

At a time when free trade is increasingly a dirty word, Davidson is also striking in her defence of the single market. As a child, she recalls, every plate of food on the table was there because her father, a self-made businessman, had "made stuff and sold it abroad". 

She attacked the Daily Mail for its front cover branding the judges who ruled against the government’s bid to trigger Article 50 “enemies of the people”. 

When the headline was published, Theresa May and Cabinet ministers stressed the freedom of the press. By contrast, Davidson, a former journalist, said that to undermine “the guardians of our democracy” in this way was “an utter disgrace”. 

Davidson might have chosen Ukip and the Daily Mail to skewer, but her attacks could apply to certain Brexiteers in her party as well. 

When The Staggers enquired whether this included the Italy-baiting Foreign Secretary Johnson, she launched a somewhat muted defence.

Saying she was “surprised by the way Boris has taken to the job”, she added: “To be honest, when you have got such a big thing happening and when you have a team in place that has been doing the preparatory work, it doesn’t make sense to reshuffle the benches."

Nevertheless, despite her outsider role, the team matters to Davidson. Part of her electoral success in Scotland is down the way she has capitalised on the anti-independence feeling after the Scottish referendum. If the UK heads for a hard Brexit, she too will have to fend off accusations that her party is the party of division. 

Indeed, for all her jibes at the Brexiteers, Davidson has a serious message. Since the EU referendum, she is “beginning to see embryos of where Scotland has gone post-referendum”. And, she warned: “I do not think we want that division.”

 

Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.